Our Incredible Day in Banff National Park
As usual we were up at the crack of dawn and eager to go hiking in Banff National Park in hopes getting our fitness back and shedding a few of the extra “postre” pounds we put on in Panama.
We hopped in the car and were going to make a beeline to our destination…until we rounded a corner and came upon a wolf lying in the middle of the road.
(Gray Wolf – female)
At first we were concerned she was injured–she had her head down, eyes closed and was unmoving. Then, as she slowly raised her head, we realized she was merely content and basking in the early morning rays of sun that hit the tarmac. To encounter a wolf so calm and undaunted by our presence has never happened before (they are always on the move and in a hurry to get away from people). Usually we have to work very hard to track a wolf in the Rocky Mountains but this time she presented herself on a silver platter. We sat for several minutes watching each other until she slowly got up and ambled away.
Driving slower now, our senses heightened, we became mindful of our surroundings and left our usual sense of time and urgency behind us. Seeing a serene pond, we decided to stop and appreciate some loons that were swimming gracefully nearby. While standing on the bank a mink suddenly popped out and scurried between us into the shelter of a grassy mound. We even engaged in a conversation with some adventurous travellers from New Zealand for an hour. It was definitely an unusual day…
Finally arriving at Lake Minnewanka several hours later than intended, we began our hike. Normally we’d be marching down the trail trying to make up for lost time or commenting on how “boring” flat hikes are, but not this time. We appreciated things more, including this little squirrel. This little guy was not the usual “twitchy” type. It was so content munching on a mushroom it didn’t seem to mind us watching and even posed for us.
(Two Jack Lake and Mount Rundle)
The weather was nice and the scenery lovely. There is something about spring in the Rocky Mountains. While stopping to enjoy the view, we heard chirping sounds and spent a further 30 minutes trying to ID a Tennessee Warbler and photographing White-Crowned Sparrows.
We actually didn’t complete the entire hike we had originally intended, but looking back at the day there is no doubt it was the journey, not the destination that lead to a fulfilling day in nature’s playground. It was a good reminder that sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses. Which is exactly what we did on the way back!
Marcy & Ray Stader