Tag Archives: Banff

Banff 2.0 and Lake Louise

I was so excited to hear a good friend of mine from Houston was coming up to Banff for a few days for a team building retreat with her company. Incidentally, she also works in the oil and gas industry. Let’s call her H.

H had this Saturday completely free, so I was all too happy to take her up on the offer to spend the day exploring. After my first mini-exposure to the Rockies, I can easily say I don’t think I’ll ever get enough.

Drive from Calgary to Banff

Driving through the plains outside of Calgary to Banff at sunrise. Purple mountains majesty ahead in the blurry background.

We decided to embrace the brisk fresh air on an ambitious hike up Sulphur Mountain. While I’ve done my fair share of hiking over the past year in Lake Tahoe and in Quebec, it’s definitely not on my list of regular activities. So it’s completely safe and accurate to assume that I was not really prepared for a 3.4mile (5.5km) hike up one of the ROCKIE MOUNTAINS.  Widely considered a strenuous hike and with an acute danger of avalanches in the winter-time, the pathway up the mountain included several switchbacks that made the steep elevation somewhat tolerable on my virgin legs. As I mentioned in my previous post, the summit of Sulphur Mountain reaches 7,486ft (2,281m) high.

Hike up Sulphur Mountain

Tame section of the hike up. Was too busy trying to catch my breath at the hard parts to worry about pictures.

While we had the absolute best of intentions, H and I had not considered the vigorous nature of the hike ahead of us while making fundamental wardrobe decisions that morning. H was sporting a pretty, white, bubble jacket from BCBG, jeans, and a pair of very nice Ugg boots.  I did not come to disappoint either. I had on a down jacket from Saks, skinny jeans, and a Michael Kors sweater. My only saving grace was that I had decided to change into sneakers.

Half-way up Sulphur Mountain.

About half-way up Sulphur Mountain.

Hike Sulphur Mountain

Pitt-stop, picture break. Hoping we’re three quarters of the way there. Starting to drizzle.

Two of H’s colleagues decided to join us on our hike.  One older man accepted his limits and made the very smart decision to head back after about 25minutes. Our other companion was a woman considerably older than we are, almost double my age, but absolutely in way better shape than I’ll most likely ever be!  With much more experience under her belt in the hiking department, she could only hold back so many chuckles at our moans and groans up the mountain. By the way, there’s something quite intimate about huffing and puffing with a stranger.

We ran into several super friendly hikers on the way up, who we proceeded to plague with “Are we there yet?” and “How much farther?” type questions. After seeing how much we were struggling, one couple from the Netherlands, on vacation from Seattle, were actually kind enough to lend us a pair of their ski poles they were using as walking sticks. I’m loving Canadians! I always knew it was a good idea to marry one (the husband is from Montreal.)

Sulphur Mountain

Taken from the very top. We started way down at that white building.

After about an hour and fifty minutes, we reached the summit. The hike was grueling but the views were out of this world. And so was the feeling once we reached the top. We made it and we were on top of the world.

Lake Louise

We drove the 50 minutes from Banff to Lake Louise, a must-see in the area.

Crystal clear waters of Lake Louise, surrounded by the Rockies, glaciers in the background.

Crystal clear waters of Lake Louise, surrounded by the Rockies, glaciers in the background.

Pretty Husky

Pretty Husky

Rotation Vacation: Beautiful Banff

So many emotions and to-do lists run through my mind when my husband is due home from his rotation. Excitement tops the list, with makeup in check, hair in order, and dinner on the table.  On some visits, those magical moments of rekindling affection really only last until the following day, when you realize he actually wants dinner again. Honey, don’t you know I’ve been eating cereal every night?  But other times, like our most recent visit together, are so romantic and fun with laughter-filled moments that I’d gladly cook up a daily five-course feast for just a few more days.

We’ve been living with a 10 & 4 rotation since April. That means my bread-winner works for 10 days straight and gets 4 days off. Unfortunately on our Canadian assignment, my husband is needed on site (where they produce that dark, smelly, valuable stuff) which happens to be an hour-plane ride from Calgary. For 10 days straight, give or take a few depending on the circumstances, we lead separate lives. Me in my luxury furnished apartment, while he sleeps in a smelly old campsite.  Guilt and longing for my partner are just a few of the emotions running through me.

But one of the perks of rotation-based life are those blissful 4 days you get together. Like a break from reality, we try to make the most of our time and use those few days as mini-vacations. This time around we decided to explore beautiful Banff, only 1.5 hours away from our apartment. We decided against staying there for the evening, instead we went late afternoon for a leisurely day of exploration.

Banff roadside scenery

From the car, on the way to Banff National Park.

Banff is a quaint little town located in Banff National Park right along the Rockies in Alberta.

Banff Avenue

Walking along Banff Avenue downtown.

Banff Avenue 2

Very cute old town feeling, with coffee shops, fudgeries and restaurants on either side of Banff Avenue.

We started by riding the gondola up to the summit of Sulphur mountain, reaching 7,486ft (2,281m) high.  It’s a bit pricey at Canadian $35 for an 8 minute ride, but once you reach the top you realize it’s completely worth it. It’s breathtaking. You feel completely secluded, surrounded by the majestic mountains that remain vastly untouched by man.Thank you trip advisor reviewers for the adamant recommendations!

Summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park

From the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park.

Summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff 2

More scenery from the very top.

We traded cameras with more than a few couples, taking pictures for one another. Because that’s how friendly tourists in Canada roll.

Summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff 3

Even more scenery.

Houston at the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff

Look what we found!

Afterwards we tried to have dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in Banff, but realized we sort of dropped the ball by not making a reservation (bad move on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.)  So funnily enough, we ended up having dinner at Chili’s. Just a little taste of home! Finally we ended the evening at Evelyn’s Coffee House on Banff Avenue. I tasted the pumpkin spiced latte which is all the rage during this time of year. I’ll go for anything pumpkin, by the way. Don’t get me started on pumpkin pie.

Elk in Banff

Look who we found after dinner!

While trying to capture the scenery with my husband’s old android, and actually do it some justice, a part of me wished I had taken up some proper photography lessons. I may need to invest into something like that for the future. I have so many trips planned to share with you, dear readers. Until then, I’ll be on my own for the next 10 days, filling my days with random contemplations and attempted adventures. Tune in!

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