It’s now officially summer in Banff, which means it is SUPER BUSY. From time to time it’s good to take a weekend to regroup, catch up on life things and get projects done you’ve been putting off for a while (read: video editing)
Back in May we went out on a horseback adventure, a 2 hour trail ride with a stop for a bbq dinner. I’m not really comfortable on horses, it’s about the only outdoorsy thing I’m not a huge fan of, but it’s great to get out of your comfort zone once in a while and try something new!
It’s a nice follow on from the Cowboy theme from last week, and a lead in to 24 of my #150for150…
19 – COWBOY COOKOUTS
My horse was named Spanky and he was a mischevious little thing. I was one of the last to leave the corral and he did NOT like being at the back of the queue. I made sure we were at the front of the line going back and he seemed much happier with that. The food was amazing (more on that later!) and it was a nice relaxing way to see the mountains.
All in all a lovely, relaxing way to spend the evening with good friends, great food and wonderful scenery.
20 – SMELL OF SUMMER
With the cold, dark, long winters Canada enjoys, when summer comes everything kind of goes a little nuts. This includes the people, the animals, the weather… mother nature really makes the most of it! Daylight lasts for 16+ hours, and temperatures soar to 30 degrees celsius. The mountains shed their snowy coats, rivers swell in varying vivid hues of blue and turquoise, and animals come out of hibernation. All this activity makes the air thick with smells of life, each one unique, captivating and evocative of a particular time and place.
Mmmm steak… and corn on the cob… and other things that just smell SO GOOD cooked outside! We were treated to amazing AAA Alberta steak on the Cowboy Cookout, served with the traditional beans, caesar salad and baked potato with all the trimmings.
As you walk or cycle around Banff in the summer, from about lunch time onward each street produces mouth watering smells of locals enjoying food cooked al fresco.
Long, hot, dry days build into incredibly dramatic storms in the mountains, reaching out onto the Prairie. Alberta experiences all kinds of crazy storms, including tornadoes out on the flat lands. They are quite common, and people don’t let it phase them. I love that you can watch the storm approaching down the valley, the mountains in the distance being enveloped by the dark black storm clouds as you approach. After 8 years here I’ve worked out roughly how long it takes for a storm to arrive, but sometimes you see it coming but still know you’re going to get really, really well. The wind blowing ahead of the storm has it’s own unique, dusty, warm smell, and the scent of fat raindrops hitting the hot asphalt is so evocative it will always remind me of Banff.
23. FOREST FIRE
Both the previous two items lead to another natural and terrifying phenomenon: forest fires. An integral part of the natural cycle in the Rocky Mountains, this year has been particularly bad with fires threatening communities and infrastructures across the Pacific northwest. The Verdant Creek fire is currently burning a few valleys across from Banff and is fortunately not threatening anything in the Bow Valley. Huge thanks to the Parks teams for managing this fire and making sure it’s course goes away from Banff and not towards it.
This fire was triggered by lightening strikes that smouldered for days before the right combination of wind and hot weather caused it to flare up. Others fires in BC have been caused by human negligence, putting undue pressure on the teams that are trying to manage the hundreds of fires raging out there.
One of the results of forest fire is a huge regeneration of great swathes of forest, burning down the trees that take up all the space and light and nutrients and allowing smaller trees, plants and flowers to spring up in their place. A diverse forest is a healthy forest, provider greater variety of food and grazing space for its residents.
When you get to this time of year, looking up into the avalanche paths and burned areas you can see them filling with bright pink carpets of flowers. This is Fireweed, 2-3 feet of gorgeous flowers that brighten up the forest floor.