I travelled to Banff last November for a work trip at The Banff Centre. My time to sightsee was short but when you’re surrounded by mountains, you feel like you need to do something magical. It was still too early in the season to dog-sled, so I decided on a solo trip up Sulphur Mountain.
I’m a city girl all the way, so there was no hiking up. There’s a gondola option! I bought a ticket, and then boarded the four-person gondola at the base of the mountain.
The Sulphur Mountain tourist centre was suprisingly empty, but the cab driver had told me earlier it was low tourist season.
It takes about 8 minutes to get to the top. I watched the trees disappear and the mountain tops come into focus. I juggled my DSLR and my iPhone, snapping equal parts mountain ranges, equal parts selfies. Yes, wiFi works, even at this high altitude!
And then I reached the summit ridge. It was a beautiful, sunny, winter day and you could see for miles. I saw more mountains in a 5-second, 360 degree turn than I have in my lifetime. For just one moment, those mountains and those unforgettable views belonged to me.
There was no one around, just me and the howling wind.
Mountain love letters (I might have left my own).
I took the snow-covered path which leads to Sanson’s Peak and the Cosmic Ray Station, stopping to take in the view or to collect pine cones along the way. Looks like a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep had been there before me.
On one side you can see Bow Valley, on another you can see the town of Banff, on another you can see the famous Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It’s supposedly haunted.
Spot the inukshuk (or inuksuit).
Being surrounded by majestic mountains can inspire you to dream big, but also the opposite effect of making you feel small. You realize just how much we are at the mercy of nature. And I was alone. It was like arriving at the Eiffel Tower and the hoardes of tourists you expect are nowhere in sight.
If a person climbs a mountain and no one is at the top to hear about it, does it still count?
Being so high up might in the Rockies was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The vistas will be etched into your brain forever.