Posted September 17, 2018 – Narrated by Carmen
Like a rock, we’ve fallen for Banff.
Is this what it’s like to have Alice in Wonderland Syndrome …
this strange shrinking sensation …?
The last time we felt this way was at The Teton Range in Wyoming where elevations are much higher than in Alberta.
The Canadian side of The Rocky Mountain Range is lower than the American side, yet these mountains are more imposing and confrontational in stature because glacial forces cut out the valleys so the mountains rise more drastically from floor to peak.
Whether it’s sheer wonder, geographical illusion, the energy of vortexes or, perhaps, the thin air – most people, when enveloped by mountains in a wilderness setting, experience a reduction in the sense of self.
Throughout the centuries people have reported the benefits of these encounters with mountains … negativity is set adrift, ailments healed and creativity awakened as the heart opens to beauty and wonder.
This phenomenon deserves some serious thought and reflection.
Awareness of one’s insignificance is an opportunity to discover what its like to give yourself permission to relax and just be …
National Parks are a response to this need for modern people to interact with the environment.
It is well documented that contact with wilderness – even the illusion of wilderness – renews the spirit and boosts health and emotional well-being.
In any rugged outdoor area, the risk of danger is real but worthwhile. Nature itself sends the message: Prepare!
Bear spray is a no-brainer, hiking poles (naturally), and I can’t say enough about the long silk underwear and alpaca socks that have saved my bacon more than once during this last, exhilarating 40-30 degrees week.
In Banff, the weather can riff the entire seasonal spectrum within twelve hours.
Every day is a new weather adventure.
So, we layer up. Easier to peel off what we don’t need and toss it in the backpack than to be without.
Banff, which means “Holy Woman” in Scots Gaelic, is named for the village in Scotland.
Wrapped around Tunnel Mountain – which the indigenous people call Sleeping Buffalo Guardian Mountain – Banff is Canada’s first National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This part of Banff National Park is not as sprawling as Jasper.
We’d already visited Lake Louise, so once we were here – we were here.
From the campground, everything is within reach – arts and culture, community, and recreation.
If the weather permits, it’s preferable to ride bikes to town from Tunnel Mountain Campground. After dark, the shuttle is a good bet and free parking is available in the village.
Banff is a no-worries kind of town.
You can go paddling in the morning …
Shopping in the afternoon …
and, out to dinner with friends at night.
And, every season is spoken fluently here!
Within our two-week Shoulder Season in Banff we experienced Spring …
and, now, Winter …
Clearly, we are not in charge.
There’s nothing like winter to set your priorities straight.
Warmth units are raw currency … homemade cheese toast, stews, the firepit, Crown Royal, propane (which, for the last four days, we had to purchase on a daily basis in the beautiful town of Canmore) and our wonderful butt warming seats in The Beast!
Yes, we avoided crowds by arriving after Labor Day and cold weather set in before we could do some stuff – like cycle The Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail – but Pico has no regrets about that because he’s still traumatized by the hailstorm in Drumheller.
Nope. Never would we have planned it, but we were lucky to experience the early snow.
The quiet woods all glistening and romantic (just like that scene in Camelot) enhance the echoes of bull elk bellowing across the Bow River in the valley below.
When Jim opens the door, the sharp scent of pine rushes in on the muscular mountain air, devouring the fragrance of baking bread.
The warmth of home. Gratitude. Peace.
Yesterday, before hitching up, we drove a couple of miles to Banff Upper Hot Springs for a steamy morning dip.
What’s that I hear in the distance … an avalanche?
Yep, we’ve fallen.