Banff Anniversary Trip! (part 1)
Nathan and I have been married for FIVE YEARS! What?! We have lived in four different houses, both completed grad school, started jobs, got a dog, traveled, cried, loved, grown. Five years seemed like a big milestone, and we were ready for a vacation after just buying a house this summer (!!!!) so we took a dream vacation to Banff, Alberta, Canada.
I have seen so many pictures of this place recently. Definitely seems like the place to go. When we were there, a local told us that the tourism boomed after a picture of Moraine Lake made it on the cover of National Geographic five years ago. Most people that live there love the mountains and the snow. Visitors come to ski in the winter and see some incredible scenery and wildlife in the summer.
Nathan and I are drawn to the mountains, for sure. We spent our honeymoon in the Smokey Mountains and loved hiking and exploring out there. For our anniversary, we explored the Rocky Mountains, and I am SO happy that we did!
We stayed in a smaller town called Canmore, about 20 minutes outside of Banff. I loved this little town, and was so glad we stayed there as it was a little quieter than downtown Banff. We ate several delicious meals in Canmore, and enjoyed walking down the streets, and eating BEAVERTAILS!! This is a dessert that is a must have. I of course got nutella on mine, Nate got strawberry cheesecake flavor.
For our first full day in town we mostly just relaxed, explored, and got acclimated to the the altitude. We enjoyed resting after a long day of travel. It also helped us prepare for an early start to the next day! The time to see the famous lakes is eaaarrrlllyyyyy. Like before sunrise early. This ensures that you will actually have a parking spot and not have to shuttle in later in the day. It also ensures that you will have a peaceful and quiet view before buses full of people start arriving! I absolutely loved these quiet starts to our day. However, sometimes the quiet can be a little eerie after learning about bears and how to use bear spray! So, to "announce our presence" to any surrounding hungry grizzlies, Nathan and I talked and got to spend some great time together! When we were too winded to talk, we would whistle or clap to make a little noise. Later in the day after miles of hiking, I think our presence was definitely known by our....aromas.
Maybe we were a little excited, or a little crazy, but we hiked 15 miles on our first hike day! We did the Plain of Six Glaciers trail and ate at the tea house at the top, which was such a cool traditional thing that everyone HAS to do. (Maybe not necessarily because the food was amazing, but because of the tradition.) We ate some biscuits and had some hot tea, and then continued our trek. We completed our most difficult portion of hiking in order to get to Big Beehive, an incredible lookout of Lake Louise! We passed by several hikers that encouraged us not with, "You're almost there!" but "I promise it's worth it! Keep going!" That is one thing that was so refreshing on this trip. Every hiker that we passed by, especially early in the morning, we greeted with a "Hi" or "Morning" and a smile. Everyone was so pleasant and friendly, and we picked up on several accents even in these short greetings. People come from all over the world to travel to this beautiful place!
The lookout definitely was worth it and completely amazing. It's hard not to stare at the turquiose waters of Lake Louise, but if you look around, you can also see several mountain peaks, woods, and glaciers as well! From the lookout, we made our way down to Lake Agnes, where another tea house awaited. This was later in the afternoon, and an easier destination for not as experienced hikers to reach, so there were people everywhere! We stopped inside for a reprieve, and I got a MARS bar as a snack!! For anyone that studied abroad with me in Italy in college, you know I was crazy obsessed with these delicious chocolate bars of caramel goodness. But, I haven't had one since, so this was as sentimental as it was mouth-watering.
We finished our hike mid-afternoon and made our way back to town for some food and a little rest time! Nathan and I enjoyed our schedule of early adventure-packed mornings, and then a slower paced evening. We tried to balance everything and still enjoy our vacation without coming back home too exhausted.
More details to come in future posts about our favorite vacation!!