On Tuesday afternoon I made my way back home to Guelph, having spent the prior week visiting Rick in Calgary. The adventure was amazing – but that really wasn’t a difficult bar to pass given that the trip involved mountains, hiking, meeting up with friends, good food, a drink known as Better Than Folgers, more mountains, Banff, hanging with both Rick and my brother, and basically celebrating the anniversary of the grandest of adventures known as the Big Mountain Challenge.
Since I returned I’ve been running around a little crazy – doing last-minute and final prep for the course that I’m teaching this semester, organizing my undergrad and grad students1, organizing several projects, organizing the Farm To Fork launch party, trying to come up with a prioritized list of things to do, and basically doing whatever I can to make sure the next several weeks/months aren’t too stressful2.
Easier said than done, obviously.
Despite all of this (and the occasional build up of anxiety3) I’m feeling good. I think my trip has a lot to do with that. There’s something special about mountain air that does my body good – providing me with better focus, more energy, and the drive to crush whatever obstacle might be in my way. And I’m going to need that this semester, because my list of projects and papers and grants and talks and posters and events could be overwhelming. I just have to remember to take the time – especially when the anxiety and stress start building – to stop and reflect on my mountain-top adventures. Because nothing destroys my stress quite like the mountains.
And I think that’s why I miss them so much.
I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures and a video below – some of these are new, some you’ve likely seen before, and some are courtesy of Rick. Enjoy.
Laughing at the top of Sparrowhawk
Enjoying the views at the top of Mount Sparrowhawk
1 Which really means organizing myself.
2 Such as snuggling with Elliot.
3 Apologies to Julie who had to hear a mild rant today.
In just over 12 hours I’ll be jumping into a Red Car taxi to head to the airport. In just over 15 hours I’ll be safely on board my WestJet flight to Calgary with seatbelt buckled, tray & chair both in their upright position, and all electronic devices securely stowed beneath me or in the overhead compartment above. In fact, in just over 15 hours I’ll probably be listening to the flight attendants as they give me the rundown of the safety features of the aircraft.
Sadly, I’m so excited about my trip I’m pretty sure I won’t hear a word they say.
Fortunately this is not my first flight and I’m rather confident that if I need to respond to a serious emergency, I’ll do so with an appropriate sense of style, decorum, and logic1, 2.
This means that I have only a few hours left in which to finish packing all of the various things that I need for my 9 day mountain climbing adventure, and only a few hours to wrap up several work-related loose-ends. Most of those loose-ends are related to the course that I’ll be teaching this semester3. Fortunately they aren’t very taxing so I plan to make quick work of them before I head to bed.
But work-related things are not the point of this post, especially given the fact that I technically started vacation the minute I left the office on Friday.
Instead, this preamble is all a rather long and winding build up to the point of this post. As you all know, Rick and I will be climbing three epic mountains. We’ll also be hiking around Banff and Lake Louise on our non-mountain-climbing and non-massage-getting days. And of course we’ll be taking many photos because the mountains are just too damn amazing not to photograph. There will be jump shots, and pictures of us overlooking vast expanses of nature. There will probably be silly and ridiculous photos. There may even be some cl-ass-y photos5.
But, dear readers, what photos do you want to see? What shenanigannery should we get up to? We’re looking for any ideas. Serious, thought-provoking, hilarious, dangerous-looking but not really dangerous6, cl-ass-y.
I can’t promise that we’ll do everything that you might suggest, but we’ll give it our best.
1 In other words, I’m likely to piss myself and cry like a baby.
2 As an aside, some people have asked me in the past whether or not I label myself as Dr. when I purchase a flight. In short – no. In the event of a medical emergency, I don’t want anyone wasting time coming to me to say “Doctor, Doctor, someone’s bleeding from their left phalange4. Please help us.”
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.
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.