Friday, May 21, 2021

The Rockies Diary, Week 3: 70 km Endeavour ft. My Banff Shirt

May 10, 2021 - May 16, 2021

The weather this week was amazing!  Finally, the sun came out and the town was beginning to come alive.    Also witnessed a rainbow new the end of one of my shifts at the shop (pictured below)!

On May 10, I spent the entire day in Banff.  Allow me to elaborate - I biked two hours to Banff, plus another hour (of uphill climb) to get to the Banff Gondola, hiked Sulphur Mountain for two hours, then biked a subsequent two hours back to Canmore.  All in a day's work, right?

I look back on that strenuous day as a huge feat.  It seems as though I always have to try something at least once, just to say 'I did it'.  As accomplished as I feel, I don't think I would ever put myself through such exertion ever again!  In total, I clocked in an impressive 70 km when combining both biking and hiking distances.

The Legacy trail takes you from Canmore to Banff and back.  It is a paved lane next to the highway with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.  I am always the slowest cycler on the road!  I do not know if it is the gear settings on my bikes, but I swear it took me twice as long to bike the Legacy trail than it should have.  One thing that I did manage to pass was a crow that was standing about two meters away from me and it was huge - about a foot in length!  I never realized how big crows were until then.  Based on my observations, I would say that crows and black-billed magpies are almost equivalent to pigeons back home - except prettier and they do not flock in large groups.

Halfway along the Legacy trail is a gorgeous park with picnic benches overlooking a vast landscape of mountain.  I was in need of a quick pit stop and I also took the opportunity to set up my camera take a few pictures of myself in front of the gorgeous view.  As promised in Week 2's post, you can catch a glimpse of my beloved Banff shirt, which I purchased after hiking Tunnel Mountain.

Biking to the Banff Gondola was brutal!  I was biking up a steady incline for a solid hour and seeing the local bus pass me by several times.  Once there, I decided to try my hand at hiking up Sulphur Mountain (where the gondola is situated).  Sulphur Mountain Trail is 5.5 km one way wth an elevation gain of 655 m.  There are numerous switchbacks on the slope to provide a steady uphill hike to the summit.  The base of the mountain was a fairly moderate hike as the trail was wide and free of snow.  But after about a kilometre in, the trail soon became covered in snow.  I knew going into this hike that I probably would not be able to make it to the summit without proper equipment.  However, I did manage an impressive climb up half the mountain - and was overlooking Tunnel Mountain!  The views along the climb were stellar, but I am sure the summit has even more breathtaking views.  I am hoping to take the gondola ride up one day.
On May 13, Nicole and I visited a lot of the shops on Main Street.  First stop was Hello Vintage, where I tried on a few pieces, but ultimately left empty handed.  (Peep my Spencer Reid shirt!) I am also on the hunt for a new running cap, but I have yet to find one.  I did end up buying some sea salt and caramel fudge from Black Rock Fudge and Gift - I really do not understand why I feel inclined to buy so much fudge.  Then for lunch we stoped by Canary for a light breakfast burrito with smoked salmon (7/10) and a cold brew.
On May 14, I was not due to start work until late n the afternoon so I finally went to Bella Crusta for a Heartstopper sandwich (10/10).  Oh my - their focaccia bread is mouthwatering-good!  I took my sandwich and biked to the Bow River - a highly appropriate location to enjoy a beautifully tasting sandwich on a beautiful, sunny day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Rockies Diary, Week 2: Tunnel Mountain + Mexican Lunch in Banff

May 3, 2021 - May 9, 2021

My room has two skylights.  Every morning around 6am, the sunlight begins to peek through, causing me to wake up before my 8am alarm.  You'll find me pulling the covers over my head in an attempt to get an extra hour of sleep.  Some mornings I can hear the birds chirping, other times, it's people working away on a roof or doing road construction somewhere nearby.

The past couple days, I managed to go for a nice hour long bike ride in the morning, through the Bow River Loop (pictured above), although there have been many rainy days this week.  While the weather may not be conducive for lunch outside and strolling down the streets, I love how the fog hovers over the mountains in an almost doomsday fashion.

I have been working at the shop by myself for the most part.  It's funny, when I accepted the position as a supervisor I was told that I would be responsible for 3-5 people.  So far, I have just been supervising myself (not complaining).  The weather is not the best right now - gloomy, raining, sometimes snowing - and Covid restrictions certainly do not entertain much of a food scene.  We serve from the door, so there is no indoor/outdoor dining.  But, for those restaurants and cafes with patios, the last day for outdoor dining is this Sunday.  And I have yet to try any in the area because I'm just waiting for a nice sunny day to enjoy my lunch out in the warm sun!  

As much as I try to restrain myself from grocery shopping too often, I could not help myself this week - there were some good deals!  Amongst the many items bought were 4 cheese tortellinis pasta to be mixed with pesto (what a treat) and a lemon flavoured, filipino, instant noodle I've never tried before (pictured below).  Spoiler, it was not good.

Kate also bought some batteries for the wii and ps3, so the three of us played a bit of Mario cart and Mario bros.  I am really horrible at it - although in my defence I have never really played before.

On May 5, a Wednesday, the shop was terribly slow because of the gloomy weather.  For the last 3 hours of my shift, I did not get a single customer!  On the up side, all that down time allowed me to make some headway on my book Catch me if you can by Frank Abagnale.  I am really pleased that I have been able to read so much since this summer began.  At the beginning of the year, I only had the mental capacity to listen to audiobooks, which always feels like a cheat and is usually less enjoyable to consume.  Now, if I am not reading at work, I make sure to read a certain number of pages by the end of the day.

On May 6, the three of us had the day off so we woke up extra early to catch the 8:30am bus to Banff!  Thirty minutes later, we arrived and headed straight for Tunnel Mountain, also known as Sleeping Buffalo, its Stoney Nakoda name.  The first survey engineers for the Canadian Pacific Railway thought they would have to tunnel through the mountain.  Instead, the railway goes around it.  This summit stands at an elevation of 1,692 m/ 5,543 ft.  

What an uphill climb it was!  After frequent rest stops, we made it to the top, and the view overlooked the Town of Banff.  We felt incredibly accomplished (and my glutes were quite sore the next day).  Passing the climbers heading up the mountain as we were heading back down felt almost nostalgic as we recalled the sweats and heavy breathing we endured just minutes earlier.  Lots of cute chipmunks and baby squirrels were spotted.  Apparently, local Banff resident, Anne Ness is credited with hiking to the top of Tunnel Mountain more that 8,000 times in 40 years, sometimes twice in one day.  I'd also like to imagine myself as a 70 year old lady, going for my daily hike up a mountain at 6am - no excuses.  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth also stood on this summit in 1939.  Later, the lookout was sometimes called King's Lookout in remembrance of their visit.

After our two hour hike, we wandered through the shops of downtown Banff - where I impulsively bought a touristy Banff shirt.  In my defence, it is my favourite colour, and stands as my favourite shirt (you'll see it in Week 3's write up) along with my Timothee shirt.

For lunch, we chose Magpie and Stump for a taco and nacho feast.  It was also the only restaurant that offered a roof top patio.  With the weather being mildly overcast, but not chilly, we followed the host upstairs where we were greeted with a vibrant lounge and loud music.  Kate and I split the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T) nachos.  I also got a single order of the Pollo (chicken) Tinga taco.  The group's census: a definite favourite spot (and next time we're sharing the nachos and queso)!

Exhausted and ready for a nap, we headed back to Canmore.  I haven't mentioned this yet, but there's a Candy shop right across my place and everyday I would yearn to check it out.  Well, after a day of money well spent, I figured I'd go for a final hurrah.  At the Old Thyme Candy Shoppe, I bought some sponge toffee and locally made chocolate mint fudge.  Would recommend both!

On May 9, the last day of the week, I eagerly tried to book a Covid vaccine appointment to no avail.  But in better news, I also went for a late afternoon bike ride.  It snowed this day and managed to leave a light dusting over the mountains (similar to icing powder).  The mountains really looked black and white.  During my ride, I spontaneously rode over to Millennium Park (pictured below) where I discovered a bike park (unfortunately not pictured below)!  It consisted of many dirt hills and was quite fun to ride through, albeit tiring.
ps. I refuse to pay $3 for a load of laundry, so I brought up an empty ice cream bucket to hand wash my clothes.