Hostel life in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff was a bit difficult concerning the social contacts as most people were there for skiing or snowboarding and stuck together in their groups and pairs. It wasn’t surprising therefore that I found some company for Banff outside the hostel. And maybe also not surprising it happened in a brewery .
It was Chelsea’s spilled beer across their table and over a couple of my things which got us – Chelsea, Laura and me – into talking and joking if that was the beer she didn’t like on her taster tray and if my bag with the beer smell now attracts bears. Both work in the consulting or consulting close field and we talked a lot about work and traveling. They were actually going to San Diego for a work event and “did a little detour to Banff” from Boston and Denver. “It’s practically on the way”, Laura said with a smile on her lips. That’s how life should be. Enjoying smaller and bigger detours and making something special out of your time off. So I had company on two nights as we joined again the next evening for a gin and vodka tasting and good food.
With the evenings been taken care of I filled my days again with trails and sport on my own – yes, of course I found another activity center with a gym, a pool and a hot tube.
And part of me is still waiting to find another hostel like New Zealand or Fiji where people in the hostel teamed up naturally for fun days and nights.
The weather is sunny and not too cold when I arrive on the first morning in Banff. The view reaches wide so I decide to throw my stuff off at the hostel and go for the short hike uphill the Tunnel Mountain – aka “Everyone who lives in Banff has to do it at least once” trail.
It’s a steady but not too exhausting walk. A couple of people are on the trail as well this morning. The ground is iced and I miss my shoe crampons that I wore in Iceland last year while I slither along the paths. When I packed my backpack in September I had them in my hands for a second. But with going to all these warm places for the first 6 months it made no sense to carry the extra weight.
I’m sitting on the top of the mountain as I write these lines. The sun has revealed a couple of stones from the snow covered summit. And so I sit on the black surface of one, the warm sun on my back and breathe in the view across the valley. People arrive, find their stones and do the same. Slowing down. Breathing.
It’s interesting how so often in life after a dark day full of doubts and questions there’s more than often a light day following where everything seems possible again and ideas start to form in your head.
As I descent more and more people are coming uphill, most with crampons on their feet. Smart them. They give me encouraging small talk and I slide on. An old lady with a pierced nose and a kick ass hairstyle passes me by and I have to clap clap her. Inwardly of course as one real clap would have sent me on my bum down for a ride.
Just after I added a second walk along the Bow river which was flat but even icier. I just wanted to use the cloudy but beautiful weather as it should turn in the afternoon.
And just when I exited the Arts & Creativity Center Banff from fitness and swimming the snow started to fall. Enough and continuously that you’d call it a night and hope for better weather tomorrow.
I’m walking on perfectly untouched new snow. No one has walked here today or since it snowed the last time. I entered the trailhead gracefully with sliding the steps down on my butt because of the layers and layers of ice. The fresh snow is grippy and good now for most of the parts. There will be another part where I decide to sit down and go downhill controlled with my imaginary toboggan than trying to walk.
I’m following the track of a coyote I guess. He picked the same trail as me. Everything is covered in snow. Only my tracks and the coyote’s are proof that someone was here and disturbed the morning. Sometimes deer prints getting across and then away from it. I stop in my own tracks. And listen to the forest. I hear nothing around. Nothing. Not even birds. Just the slight roar of the river down below. “Maybe I should have told someone where I am.” A thought passes my mind so I text a fast message to Bridget about my whereabouts and plans. As I lift my head again I’m glad about the footprints I left in the snow and the ones leading forward by my friend in thought, the coyote, to know where I came from and where I have to go.
The hoodoos. It’s the same with the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, north of Sydney. If you just drive there it’s seems rather boring looking at these stones just by getting out of the car and taking a pic. But if you hike here through untouched terrain (on that morning at least) you feel like you accomplished something and the pics I take give me way more memories. Well, for you it’s just a bunch of stones anyway.
The way back I take the path following the road. It’s already passed noon. A good lunch and a nice coffee afterwards are waiting for me. (Hashtags: #nopeanutbutter #nohummus)
I didn’t plan to go one another walk today when I woke up. But the tiny bit of sun and blue sky lured me out after I finished breakfast and set my itinerary for today. I started a habit tracker a couple of weeks ago after I saw Anne doing this on Instagram. And I started the last days with using the first 30 minutes of the day in a calm way without cellular phone just preparing breakfast and setting my 3 goals for the day that I will be accountable for towards myself in the evening.
And then I was ready to go outside!
Hiking in the end of winter brings the joy of being mostly alone on the paths. Today my way to the Sundance Canyon was no difference. You have to leave the idea of seeing beautiful blue and turquoise lakes and rivers, reflecting the high mountains with white tips, behind. But you’ll get a peaceful recharging time out.
A photographer made his way down along the river as well this morning and we exchanged a short “what a beautiful day and view” to each other. And I know that this was my last walk through the Banff National Park as I will leave tomorrow towards Calgary – leaving the mountains behind.
It’s funny how the days in Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff recharged and gave me my spirit back. “Recharge, from what? He’s just traveling”, you might legitimately think. Spending so much time with myself, my thoughts and all these new experiences drains. I can’t explain it differently. In my life I have loved to be occupied with many different things at the same time – work, sports, friends, band or show group, anything to fill more than just my week.
Being “without a specific meaning” during the last months and just travelling stressed me out a little and let my head the freedom to bring on thoughts in a sheer endless loop. The days in the Rockies let me tryout a new rhythm and offered me a load of energy again. And I’m excited to forward this energy in the next workplace – wherever and whatever this may be.
I will miss these mountains surrounding Banff and Jasper which left me every time in wow when I lifted my head. I’m a bit sad to leave without getting a glimpse of a bear. But maybe it’s better that way. To quote one of my friends:
“I would really like to see a bear. Well, I’d like to sit in a car and see a bear. And the car is driving. But then I’d really like to see one.” ~ Sandra S., 2017
Thanks to everyone who suggested me to come here. It was worth it.
P.S.: I had just a small coffee this time in a tiny cup.