What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place
Passage from ‘Ends of the Earth’ by Lord Huron
Both nostalgia and wanderlust have hit me hard this week. I feel almost restless and not in a bad way. But in a ‘I really want to travel for months at a time’ sort of way.
I woke up this morning with the realization that a year ago today I climbed up Mount Rundle in Banff alongside my friends Steph and Lukas. Oddly enough, I had a dream last night that I was in Banff and I was proudly looking up at the summit of that very mountain.
I’ve spent more time today than I’d like to admit, looking back at pictures from that trip. Though it was only a week long, it had a profound effect on me and changed me for the better. I know that much. I’d always been found of travel prior to this trip. But my experience in the Rockies taught me to make the most out of my travels, to get off the beaten path and to say yes. To say yes to crazy, unexpected and impulsive ideas and suggestions. Because in the end it’s always worth it.
There’s so much more out there than just the typical touristy attractions. Take Lake Louise for instance. It’s an incredibly beautiful landmark, but the vast majority of people that lay eyes on those gorgeous waters do so for a few moments and then instantly head back to the car or tour bus. Take a hike. Literally. There’s tons of trails branching out from the Chateau, and the best part is, the further into the woods you go, the less people there are.
I remember being in Greece seven years ago and visiting these spectacular ancient sites. While visiting these places was an amazing experience, I remember being thrown off by the amount of people there. How there were crowds and crowds of people darting to and from. I pondered how different a place like Delphi must have been to those encountering its ruins for the first time. How awe inspiring it must have been, to have had it all to yourself and whoever followed. Without the stands propped up aiming to monetize such landmarks.
Fast forward to 2016 and I was determined to get the most out of my time in Alberta and BC. I was lucky enough to have travelled with a friend that was just as adventurous, if not more, than I was. The funny thing was, we had planned an itinerary prior to our trip which we had quickly thrown out the window. And for the better. Many of the highlights of our trip would not have happened had we stuck by the book and stuck to the beaten trail.
I remember hiking around Emerald Lake and getting away from the Lodge, sinking in knee deep snow and being terrified that we would encounter a grizzly at any moment. My heart was beating so fast and I was uncharacteristically anxious in a setting that typically calms me. The second we reached the lake shore, however, it all went away. We had this stunning view all to ourselves. No tourists, no bears, no worries, just silence and beauty.
My first true camping experience would not have happened the way it did had things gone by the book. I would not have fallen in love with Jasper and Jacques Lake the way I did had things not happened the way they did. And that’d be a damn shame because it’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been lucky to lay my eyes on. I would not have seen a sky that had more stars than black space had things transpired differently.
It’s all subjective of course but I love the feeling of associating travel with adventure as opposed to pure relaxation, like at a resort. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with staying at a resort during a vacation and taking it easy, but it’s just not for me. If I’m going to travel somewhere, I want to experience as much of it as authentically as I can.
Steph and I joked last year that our trip consisted of us doing anything but relaxing. We pushed ourselves hard, day after day. So much for a vacation eh? Truthfully, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Because if that weren’t the case then I wouldn’t have found myself above the clouds, on beautiful peaks, while inadvertently falling into turquoise lakes, and chasing mountain goats up cliffs. I wouldn’t have met my friend Rory and my pals from other countries. I wouldn’t have had all the adventures I had if I didn’t say yes to a crazy idea and followed that up by sticking to the book.
It’s always worth it in the end, so don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and say yes to outlandish ideas. Time is fleeting, make the most of it.