Two days to break up the trip from Halifax to Vancouver. Two days to see some mountains, drink some beers with an old friend and maybe see if I can’t hurt myself giving snowboarding a go.
That was four years ago – but sometimes still feels like yesterday.
Coming in from Calgary on the Greyhound as the sun starts to rise, in my opinion is the only way to experience the Canadian Rockies for the first time – in mid-January it takes your mind far from the cold window you’ve been leaning against for the better half of a week and somehow seems to put everything in perspective.
I arrived early and took the taxi up to the HI-Banff Alpine Centre, as a friend of mine worked there and had promised me mates rates so figured couldn’t really go wrong. I’d extended my stay a couple of times as I was having a brilliant time in the hostel bar, and the newer part of the hostel was by far some of the best hostel digs I’d ever slept in. After a week or so of not even really looking for a job the hostel offered me a job mopping floors overnight – a true application of my marketing degree which allowed me to snowboard every day which was the real goal at the time.
Changes in work visas for Australians meant that I could easily get a second work visa so figured I’d stick around for the summer, just to spend another winter and quickly found that hiking to the top of a mountain was almost as fun as riding down them. Standing on top of a mountain amplified the feeling I got seeing the mountains peek over the top of the horizon heading towards Banff that cold day and once again every little problem and concern just sort of slipped away.
Banff is best experienced over a couple of seasons – to say you spent a winter in Banff and really got a feel for the place is a lie, replacing chair lifts for rafts and skis for mountain bikes and you’ve got a completely different world of activities at your fingertips. Then there’s the wildlife, if you got excited seeing a deer or an elk for the first time, imagine your excitement catching a glimpse of a grizzly from a car window. It’s a completely different world as all those frozen lakes, rivers and waterfalls slowly turn blue.
Even though I don’t mop floors anymore so I really don’t get up on the hill as much as I should, I’m still happy I never got back on the bus.
Thank you Shaun for sharing this excellent experience! You can see more photos of Banff by following Shaun on Flickr.