Today I had a realization that prompted this post: this is the first summer in 8 years that I haven’t hiked in the Rockies. It all started back in 2008 when I made a move that, at the time, seemed like a simple change in scenery. In reality, it ended up changing so many things in my life. I was sort of tired of my work and, on a total whim, decided to look for a “real job” (i.e. non-hospitality gig) in Banff. I didn’t think I would find anything that fit the bill but fate intervened. I stumbled upon a job in my profession and, within a few short months, I was on my way to the Rockies.
I won’t say it was an easy transition. I’ve never been great at moving to new places and making friends easily, and I don’t cope well with major changes in general (think chronic second-guesser and worry-wart). But I’ll leave all those stories for another time and focus on the big changes to my life. Banff was where I discovered the type of work I really wanted to do, and it’s also where I discovered a love for the trail.
At first, I barely hiked. I was a pretty hard core runner, at that point, averaging about 55 kilometres per week including a 20-22 km run every single weekend, just for “fun.” I remember trying to run in Banff and discovering the great equalizer: altitude. I couldn’t run for more than 35 minutes without feeling like I was going to die. I hadn’t yet discovered the concept of adjusting my pace and, like most young people, I assumed that the whole altitude thing was an elaborate conspiracy to help people feel better about having a bad run.
After many a frustrating run, and seeking some alternative form of exercise, I started to hike some of the short, local trails like Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur Mountain. It, too, was hard but at least offered scenic rewards at the end whereas the end of the run only offered the reward of knowing my workout was done for the day.
It took the better part of a year before I really started to venture out and explore more interesting terrain, but once I started I couldn’t stop myself. With every new trail I discovered, every new vista I saw, I had to see more. I became obsessed. I never imagined that one moment of wondering ‘are there jobs for me in Banff?’ would lead to the passion for hiking I have today. Eight years later and, though the level of trail obsession has ebbed and flowed at times, I cannot imagine a life that doesn’t include at least the occasional hike.