Despite setting off to travel by myself again, I was far from solo. In Banff I was reunited with Joe and Jess, their hospitality and comfy couch. With Aus, a Milford Bestie, we caught up on the past two years over sushi and cider. Miki and I toured Canada’s first heritage site, Cave and Basin, the birthplace of Parks Canada as the new inhabitants sought to preserve and showcase the incredible, natural features of this ancient land.
The cave, which had long been a bathing place of the first nations people in the area was “discovered” in 1883 by 3 railway workers. It became popular with the new wave of tourism to the area and as they sought to showcase it to train passengers. Conversations about preservation and tourism brought were new for the new settlers of Canada and brought about the birth of Parks Canada. The Cave itself if home to Banff National Park’s most endangered species, the Banff Snail. Its shell is spun in reverse to other, more familiar snails and it lives next to the hot, nutrient rich waters measuring up to be about the same as half a grain of rice.
Along with Banff’s many coffee shops to explore, it is surrounded by lakes, or as Miki expressed, “it has a lot of holes.” We took an afternoon walk to its closest ‘puddle,’ Vermillion Lakes. With high grasses surrounding it and mountains at its fringe, it had a vast, moody beauty.
Feeling fancy, Joe and I enjoyed his perks of working at the Fairmont, fraternising with the well to do at the hotels pools. Adjacent to the hotel, the Bow River rushes along and spills dramatically over the Bow Falls. Bex and I had visited Joe and Jess here in November’s frozen wonderland and it was incredible to see it with its summer energy, the banks of the water much higher. Miki, Cat and I surveyed the town from above. A short but steep jaunt from the town, Tunnel Mountain overlooks Banff centre, so named as it was once destined to be burrowed through to make way for the train. A much more thrifty soul proposed circumnavigating the mountain, leaving it be, free to look out one way into the valley and the other to gaze adoringly at the imposing Mt Rundle.