Tag Archives: banff

reboot365-6

Choo-choo-choose your own adventure day! Too cold, too wet, and too tired to do anything more than post this photo I took the other day when I was in Banff and the train roared past me…

 

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Train in the Snow at Argenteuil, by Claude Monet – 1875

 

Mountain Trivia (Reboot365-4)

Did you know that more than half of humanity depends on mountains for water? (This fact comes from this article on The Telegraph website).

 

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At this time of year we have plenty of both mountains and water… 

 

Why am I thinking about water (where it comes from and where it goes)? It so happens that my ghost walkers last night wanted to know about Banff’s water supply and sewage system, not something I had come prepared to talk about (ghosts neither drink nor pee).

I figured there had to be some kind of waste-water treatment going on (there’s no way all those hotels have some funky septic system under  Banff Avenue) and, sure enough, Banff has a pretty skookum system. Because the town is in a National Park, they are pretty particular about what they consider to be a clean end product. Here’s a list of what Banff suggests you do NOT flush down the toilet. I’d say it’s a pretty good list for all of us to keep in mind.

 

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I try not to forget how lucky I am to be able to enjoy a glass of good, clean water whenever I’m thirsty. 

 

On the incoming end, Banff’s (quite delicious) drinking water comes from very deep underground wells. It’s pumped up to a reservoir on Tunnel Moutain and given a bit of chlorine treatment before trickling back down into the townsite and into drinking glasses and refillable water bottles all over town.

 

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The Town of Banff provides filling stations so you can tank up with great Banff water free of charge. 

Here in Canmore, there’s a rather ambitious action plan in place that hopes to reduce per capita water consumption by 50% by 2035 (from 200 rates). I love drinking the water here (tasty!) and I enjoy long showers… I guess I will have some work to do if I am going to do my part.

Do you have any great water conservation tips to share? I might as well start now…

 

 

 

Useless Factoid 2 (Reboot365-3)

One of the things I chat about on the ghost walk in Banff (just got in from doing one this evening) is where I might like to haunt should I come back (the Harmon Residence in Banff – a house I LOVED as a kid and which haunts my dreams to this day…)

 

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Hey! Come back here with Walter!!!!!

 

And that made me wonder about other people coming back somewhere, after… or wanting to come back as something… which is how I stumbled on this gem.

Did you know that Walter Morrison, inventor of the Frisbee, had his cremated ashes baked into a Frisbee after he died? One would hope he is well identified so someone doesn’t accidentally send him sailing off a cliff or out to sea…

 

Oh, the Merman!! (44/365)

He’s still there at the Banff Indian Trading Post!!!!! Just got home after leading a Ghost Walk in Banff, which followed a full day of writing and editing. Half fish, half human, this little dude haunts my childhood memories and today when I popped in to say hello he transported me back across the decades to the first time I saw him so long ago…

No doubt he will now follow me into the world of dreams…

We Know Better Now (42/365)

A very long, very busy day again – so today I’ve gone into the archives for a couple of quick photos in the ‘hm, good thing we don’t do this any more’ department.

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Back in the day, feeding wildlife was a thing… I think I even read recently  (can’t think now where) that long ago people came to Banff to feed the bears! That seems like an eminently stupid thing to do, but then, when I look at us (that’s me and my brother, Peter) feeding the bighorn sheep, that wasn’t too smart either.

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There’s a dramatic painting by Charles M. Russell, c. 1904 called Big Horn Sheep… It’s the males that have the full-on horn curl going on. 

 

 

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This Big Horn buck is mounted and hung at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. I’m not sure of the stats regarding trophy hunting and how popular it is then versus now, but I can’t say I understand why anyone would hunt just for sport. I’m not opposed for hunting for meat as long as one does so in season and following proper game management protocols but as a source of decorations? Um. No. 

And, yes, probably somewhat less dangerous but also not a good idea is the chipmunk-feeding craze we enjoyed as kids. I loved the feel of their tiny, delicate claws every so gently scratching the palm of my hand as they would take an offered peanut. They were pretty brazen (I think this one was on the top of Sulphur Mountain) and would sit back on their haunches, cheeks bulging and enjoy their feast.

 

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These days I have quite a different relationship with the little monsters. They know when climbers are busy belaying and can’t chase them off, so they blithely crawl all over our packs, chew holes in food bags, and generally make a menace of themselves while we are distracted.

They are still cute, yes, but I have a lot less patience with them now and have no patience whatsoever with people who feed them and make the problem worse.

 

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There’s a dramatic painting by Charles M. Russell, c. 1904 called Big Horn Sheep… It’s the males that have the full-on horn curl going on. 

 

And that, as they say, is all she wrote…

Anybody else want to confess they used to feed the animals? As in, a long time ago before we knew better? I think there’s a statute of limitations on such misdemeanors (though today, there’s also a hefty fine). If you are a current offender, perhaps best you keep your head down and stay quiet.

 

Sad News in the Bow Valley (38/365)

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Yesterday while Fabio and Joe were climbing Tonka (a multi-pitch route on Tunnel Mountain), I was in Banff working on a couple of articles and putting together material for Ghost Walks. At one point as I was at the car dropping off a costume I’d procured from the Thrift Shop, an ambulance tore up the road with lights and sirens going. Not long after, a Parks Canada vehicle also raced up the road. Both vehicles turned up Tunnel Mountain Road. I’d driven down that road a bit earlier after having dropped off Fabio and Joe.

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Of course, my mind jumped to the worst case scenario. Rock fall? A miscommunication? Had something gone wrong? Were they ok? I texted to see how they were doing and … no response. That was a long 15 minutes before I finally had a reply saying they were fine and had just reached the top of a pitch where they could do things like answer texts. But, from their perch high above the Bow Valley, they were watching a helicopter and emergency vehicles in action. Something was going on but they weren’t close enough to know exactly what.

We heard today that another climber a little farther along on Tunnel Mountain had been in an accident. Sadly, the climber didn’t survive.

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Sadness (Two in boat), by Nicholas Roerich, 1939

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the accident victim. It’s always a sickening shock to the system when one hears of someone being badly hurt or killed in a climbing accident.

This evening as I turn in for the night I see the stark black silhouette of the mountain peaks outside my window. They are beautiful, to be sure, but unforgiving. Stay safe out there, my friends.

 

 

 

 

Time to Reflect – in Banff (36/365)

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I spent much of the day today hiking from end to end of Banff (and back), reflecting. Ostensibly, I was figuring out exactly where I need to go when I lead my first ghost walk, planning where to tell which story… But there was lots more going on than just deciding when to mention the various apparitions. Wandering around the streets and alleys, peering into back yards, reading all the plaques (they weren’t there when I lived there, way back when), catching glimpses of the familiar, being shaken by all that has changed… I kept alternating between regret and sadness that we ever left and delight to be back and looking at my old hometown with fresh eyes.

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All day today the world kept shifting between the intense colours of early summer and the black and white filter of powerful childhood memories. 

When I was a kid sometimes the guys (they were mostly men back then) would let me ride my horse at the back of the string of horses when they were brought down from the Banff Springs Hotel to the barn near the rec grounds. I pretended like I was actually important and had a proper job to do, though I was really just following along. I loved the way the tourists would point and say, “Look how small she is!” as I sat astride my much-too-big-for me horse, Ace.

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Ace in front of Cascade Mountain. About 1970. 

As a family, we travelled a lot when I was young and until recently I was hard pressed to say what place I considered to be ‘home.’ Now that I am back in the mountains, though, I feel like I have come home, in geographic terms at least. Walking around in Banff, I think that’s perhaps the closest I will ever come to identifying with a specific place in such a way that I feel that’s where I come from. It’s a very strange feeling because I don’t even live in Banff (and probably never will again) – I live down the road in Canmore. But Canmore feels like the place I live at the moment that’s very similar geologically speaking to a place I once called home. And that is different to actually being back at home.

Oh, it’s confusing. I keep finding myself time-slipping, taken back almost five decades to the first summer we spent in Banff in a cabin not much different to one of these:

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Banff Beaver Cabins on Beaver Street

Back in the day, accommodations for visitors were in short supply (actually, that hasn’t changed much). Enterprising locals built cabins behind their homes and rented them out. When we first arrived in 1969, we lived in just such a cabin for the first summer until we moved into a small house on Grizzly Street a couple of blocks over.

My most vivid memory of that first summer was being awakened at dawn by banging noises behind the cabin. No, it wasn’t a ghost… it was a female grizzly and her two cubs raiding our garbage cans. Mom, my brother and I watched through the window until they had taken what they wanted and ambled off.

Those were the days before animal-proof garbage cans and, actually, before feeding the wildlife was strictly verboten. Somewhere, I have photos of us feeding crackers to elk outside the back door of the Grizzly Street house. On my next trip to the coast, I’ll dig through the boxes of old photos and find a few to post…

For now, though, my memories from long ago and the new impressions from today are doing a strange dance, not quite in synch but not quite not in synch either. Do you know what I mean?

I am too tired to think any more about this tonight (and, my jaw still hurts so I just want to go to bed), but I’ll leave you with a question or two: How far away from ‘home’ do you live? In our ever more mobile world, what does home mean?