Big Beehive

Elevation: 2270 m
Elevation Gain: 520 m
Lake Agnes is bracketed by two large rock buttresses (the Little Beehive to the north and the Big Beehive to the south). The Big Beehive was named by J. Willoughby Astley in 1890 for its resemblance to a beehive. Willoughby was the manager of the first “Château” on the shores of Lake Louise from 1890 to 1894. Samuel Allen was credited with the Big Beehive’s first ascent in 1891. A shelter built atop the Beehive in 1916 by the Canadian Pacific Railway is the oldest surviving structure in the Rocky Mountain National Parks.
My Ascents:
August 7 2016.
GPS Track: Big Beehive

Having just acquired a fancy second-hand baby carrier (thanks Kel!), Brianne and I were eager to get Mera out to the mountains for a “field trial.” With forecasts ranging from “mainly crappy” to “90% chance of god-awful,” we decided to head to Lake Louise and hope for the best! Unfortunately, our drive to Lake Louise was filled with low clouds; I’m not sure that we saw a single mountain along the way…

Having resigned ourselves to a high likelihood of hiking in a cold, viewless mist, we were thrilled to arrive at the crowded Lake Louise shoreline just in time to watch the thick veil of fog lift! I’ve snapped many a photo of this postcard-worthy locale and I can honestly say that this might be the prettiest that I’ve ever seen Lake Louise. With wisps of cloud granting glacial glimpses, the ephemeral scene was powerful to witness.

Brianne and Mera were also pleased by the morning’s ethereal beauty (and look who already has her frickin’ hat off!).

As it became apparent that the morning would be beautiful, we decided to hike towards Lake Agnes (and possibly beyond). After a few km shrouded in forest, we paused to admire the beautiful view of the Bow Valley (still veiled in cloud) from a clearing just above Mirror Lake.

That same clearing also granted us a great look at, what would end up being, our objective for the day: the Big Beehive (left).

The Devil’s Thumb (center) and Mount Whyte (right) tower above Lake Agnes as we arrive at the scenic but crowded teahouse.

By the time we got to Lake Agnes, little Mera was starting to get fairly fussy. Not wanting to feed her amongst the scone-munching hordes, however, we quickly made for the less crowded BOTL (back of the lake).

That’s more like it! Mera, Crux and Brianne enjoy their respective lunches in a peaceful alpine meadow below Mount Niblock.

Looking back towards the famous teahouse from the BOTL.

You’re supposed to “leave no trace” in the Rockies but from the looks of this photo, we may have accidentally left a sock…

Family photo at lovely Lake Agnes.

Having all enjoyed a well-earned repast and rest, we resumed our journey up the talus trail. While the break certainly made Brianne less fussy, it (unfortunately) did little to appease the baby who was quite vocal with her displeasure.

Ascending steep switchbacks on the Beehive’s north flank to the chorus of: “Please fall asleep, please fall asleep, please fall asleep…”

As we reached the crest of the Beehive, the views towards Lake Agnes were as welcome as the revelation that someone had finally gone down for her nap!

After strolling a surprising distance along the Beehive’s crest, our destination is finally in sight!

The impressive drop at the Beehive’s east end reveals a fine panorama. Click to see larger.

Enjoying the shade of the oldest surviving structure in Banff National Park.

Up from her (very brief) nap and showing off her (new) toothy grin.

Crux shows off his toothy grin as well.

Unlike the nearby Devil’s Thumb, the views from the Beehive are somewhat obscured by larch trees. If one wanders about, one can, nevertheless, find some pretty panoramas (like this one of the aforementioned Devil’s Thumb, Mount Whyte, Mount Niblock and Mount St. Piran above Lake Agnes). Click to see larger.

Fairview Mountain, Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen highlight the view above Lake Louise’s spectacular turquoise waters. Click to see larger.

A closer look at Haddo Peak (left) and Mount Aberdeen (right) – 2 of the more impressive peaks visible from the Beehive.

After a brief summit stay, Brianne, Mera, Crux and I started down the south side of the Beehive towards the Plain of Six Glaciers trail and Lake Louise. While this alternate descent was largely in the trees, occasional views of Mount Victoria added to the variety of going down a different way than we had come up.

Rather than descend all the way to the Plain of Six Glaciers trail, we opted to take the connecting trail back to Mirror Lake. This trail traverses some impressive ledges which grant equally impressive views of Lake Louise far below.

A final stop for someone to cool down at Mirror Lake! Who would have thought that it would be too hot given the weather forecasts and cloudy start to the day?!