Yesterday I continued my mini-vacation by heading to Banff, Alberta with Rick. We woke up relatively early1 and puttered about the house before getting on the road around lunch. Before getting on the highway, we made our requisite pit stop at Starbucks for coffee deliciousness and snacks2.
While we made our way to Banff – about 1.5 hours away – we chatted, laughed, and took in the scenery as it whizzed by us. I’m always awed whenever I make my way through the mountains. I really can’t put into words how beautiful and majestic they are. Nor can I fully describe how at home they make me feel.
I really am a lucky bastard that I get to experience them as often as I do.
The weather was once again absolutely perfect – blue skies with just a few clouds. And when a larger concentration of clouds did appear, they were off over the mountains wherever we weren’t. Brilliant!
Arriving in Banff, our first mission was to check out travel gear for Rick. He’s going to be doing the same Peru trip that I did when I turned 30 way-back-when. We also figured given all the end-of-season sales, we’d probably score some sweet deals.
After arriving in Banff, picking up some new hiking/running gear, stuffing ourselves with burgers at Wild Bill’s, and enjoying some lattes from Evelyn’s, we decided to hike up the Tunnel Mountain trail3.
The hike was a bit slippery given melting snow and ice, but overall not too bad. I think we made it to the top in about an hour, including several stops for pictures and shenanigans.
The top of the trail offered some pretty spectacular views of Banff. In fact, if not for this hike I would never have known about some of the amazing hotels in the city. Rick was surprised I’d never seen the hotels, but after chatting about it we realized that this was probably the first major touristy thing we’ve done on any of my visits. Sure, we did the bobsledding thing, but I’d suggest that wasn’t exactly the typical tourist activity.
While the views of Banff were stunning – especially as the sun was setting – the views on the opposite side4 of the mountain were insane!
Standing there looking out over the valley, Rick spotted what we assumed were either a small herd of caribou or elk or some other large elk-like animal. Perhaps deer – but from where we were they looked too large. We also decided that should we return to Banff for hiking, that one particular mountain – Mount Rundle – was going to be the one we would next crush. It looks epic.
After descending the trail but before we left town, we made sure to check out one of the hotels – Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – that I had spied from the top of Tunnel Mountain. The hotel was stunning, and afforded us some excellent views of Mount Rundle, as well as some deer that were feeding on the grounds.
The day ended with a quick stop at Bow Falls and some more coffee from Evelyn’s.
On the way home, I couldn’t help but stop and reflect on what I’d seen and done. To say that I’m a lucky bastard is a huge understatement. Thanks again Rick for another excellent adventure. You sir, are a huge slice of awesome5.
1 Well, I woke up around 5:30 but lounged on the couch until about 6:30 before I started working. Rick got up a bit later. On average, we were up relatively early.
2 Of course.
3 I use the term hike loosely. The hike is actually more of a vigourous walk. I don’t normally consider anything a hike if the trail has been basically smoothed completely for ease of tourist traffic.
- Bear sightings prompt warnings to Banff residents and visitors (calgaryherald.com)
- The Beauty that is Banff (mbmphotography.wordpress.com)
- Oot And Aboot (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)
- I Want More (consumedbywanderlust.wordpress.com)