Hiking in Banff: My Treadmill

Canada is a country with many natural wonders and diverse environments changing from coast to coast. I’ve experienced but a very small fraction of these landscapes, but I have to say the Rocky Mountains are hard to beat when it comes to beauty (but don’t be afraid to call me biased). As someone that grew up in the plains and coulees of Southern Alberta, I find the Rockies both miraculous and extremely daunting as they begin to surround me. I’m curious about the life that must be hiding in the fuzzy lawn of trees stretching up across the rocks, enthralled by the waterfalls and impossible peaks that some people have the incredible bravery to scale.

I myself am not a hiker: I am someone that is beginning to enjoy hiking much more as an option for physical activity now that I’ve started enjoying the summer more. Winter used to be my favourite season, and I tried to make a habit of making it out to Banff for a snowboarding trip at least once a year, but that became a lot less feasible once I moved away from home and started at the University. The financial reality of adulthood as well as experiencing a couple of Edmonton winters while transiting has dragged spring and even summer back into my favour. Between work, school, household chores, and recuperation, getting outside and breathing fresh(er) air takes a conscious effort, and that effort is much more easily gratified in the warmer weather. Besides, walking outside and enjoying the environment is free (unless you’re in a national park) and something I’ve started to gain a lot more appreciation for, which was the reason I took this trip.

This was my first time going to Banff for the sole purpose of hiking/walking, and it was an experience I wish I had much easier access to because I honestly enjoyed myself. As someone that consistently struggles to find the time and energy for physical activity, hiking opens a door for enjoyment that a sweaty and painful run on the treadmill just can’t give me. The hiking experience is a constant exchange of effort and reward between you and your environment, wherein the beautiful scenery and awaited view-from-the-top create a driving force to get you up the mountain. Both the destination and the journey are a treat. I also appreciate the diversity available to people of varying levels of ability and experience- if trekking uphill for a few hours at a time isn’t your forte, there are more level options with just as beautiful views. My first day there we did the Tunnel Mountain hike, a moderate trail accessible from town with zigzagging paths going up and across the mountain. The reward was an expansive view of the town centre and surrounding areas, but I definitely needed a few moments of rest before reaching the top. The next day we drove to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and walked from there to the Sundance Canyon trail. This trail was much more moderate, a relatively flat hike along a small waterfall and creek, nestled in between the mountains. This was much more easy-going but still shot me to almost triple my step goal for the day. We finished that day off with Marsh Loop, another flat and very short trail, just for the scenery. Basically, there’s something for everyone and if you’re like me and struggle to follow a typical fitness regiment, hiking might be a way to get more excited about moving. Regardless of health though, I’m very thankful to live in a place that has such amazing landscapes like this to offer and aim to appreciate and experience them much more going forward.