Date: 15th March 2015
It took well over a year of planning – making sure we secured visas, saving and getting our lives in order – but Anne Marie and I have finally made it back to Canada. After a quick stop over in Toronto visiting relatives, we hopped over to the west coast and Vancouver to catch up with friends and enjoy some more of the city. It felt like we’d never left; street pizza, Granville Island, hipster restaurants, beer served in jam jars and of course city views with that awesome mountain backdrop.
We could have spent this year living in Vancouver, but the call of the mountains was just too strong. Why just look at them when you can live IN them? So we took the bus for fifteen hours through the Rockies to the small town of Banff. If we had any reservations about venturing into the ‘wilderness’ they were soon quashed as dawn broke to mountains of snow. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen so much of the white stuff; the conifers in some places were completely loaded, barely a green branch visible. Drifts piled down mountainsides and covered everything below in fluffy plumes. We craned our necks to look up at the peaks overhead and I kept bugging Anne Marie to ‘look’, ‘look!’ out the window like an excited child.
The snow seemed to peak just north of Lake Louise and by the time we reached Banff town there was not quite as much on the ground, perhaps a few inches. Still, we arrived with a sense of adventure and the prospect of a fresh start.
As I write this now we’re well settled in. In just over six weeks we have both secured work and a small rental apartment in the heart of town. Although we’ve spent a few days hiking, snowboarding and exploring, our focus has been on ‘setting up’ and now that we’re getting over the necessary life chores we can concentrate on really enjoying what Banff National Park has to offer.
Thankfully the snow is currently falling again; the season hasn’t been great so far really. In fact, it’s well reported that the west coast of Canada is experiencing its worst snow season in over 100 years, forcing most of the ski fields to close early. On the other hand, the east coast has been snowbound for months, with minus 20 and below temperatures. Global warming is certainly starting to have a real affect on the ski industry. If the balance can return, we might still have a couple months of snowboarding here in Banff so fingers crossed X.
Some highlights in Banff so far include a romantic day spent on a horse-drawn sleigh ride, going up the Banff Gondola to the peak of Sulphur Mountain, then soaking in the warm waters of Banff Hot Springs. Several walks along the Bow River have seen encounters with the local Elk or Mule Deer, and just last week we spotted a group of Coyotes howling on the shore of Vermillion Lakes. You don’t have to venture far out of town before you start encountering the wildlife of the park.
Another draw to Banff is that it is home to the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival, which tours the world annually, showcasing the very best in mountain cinema and literature. Our first special viewing of short films at the Banff Centre was an emotional one, with the main feature ‘Mending the Line’ causing the whole theatre to choke up! The tale of Frank Moore, a 90 year old World War Two veteran returning to fish a river he stopped at during the invasion of Normandy, is as heart warming and life affirming as anything you’ll ever watch.
Needless to say that Banff has already made a great impression, and we have only scratched the surface. There’s a whole mountain range out there just waiting to be explored. Watch this space for updates!
Tags: Banff, Banff Gondola, Banff Hot Springs, Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival, Banff National Park, Blackfoot, Mending The Line, Rockies, Rocky Mountains, The Banff Centre, Tipi, Treffry Deerfoot