There's always a point in the journey to health and wellness where things can feel a little stagnant, maybe a bit too routine. I've never been one to follow a particular schedule because the wandering rising Sagittarius in me always yearns to discover something new. And you know what? That's ok! I've made peace with what works for me and I realized that when I hit a plateau it's time to head to a plateau, or in this case, a mountain.
When I started to focus more on health and wellness and put that first as a priority in my life, I learned fast that the most simple changes and actions are the most effective. As I started traveling and meeting people across the world one of the most common things they reference for positive health and wellness is the connection with nature. It's about getting outside and experiencing the beauty that exists in the world. It's about living adventure and challenging personal limits to make progress. In that revelation comes the most perfect partnership with Eddie Bauer for the fall/winter to do just that. The commitment to active travel and healthy adventure is a common thread between us and I welcomed the challenge to challenge myself. So as I started off October in a post-summer rut I decided to use nature to push my body and mind to make a change. That decision led me to the magical Canadian Rockies where legends of vibrant blue lakes, glaciers and tea houses only accessible by hiking trails actually do exist. It would be the perfect way to reset my batteries.
We started off the journey in Banff then to Lake Louise and onto Emerald Lake near Yoho National Park. We hiked around 8 hours a day wandering through grizzly bear country taking in the changing landscape and scenic peaks and valleys. We based ourselves at Lake Louise for the first part of the trip. It's the most gorgeous lake I've ever seen and the hiking trails that lead off of it are some of the best in the area. We wandered our way up the Plain of Six Glaciers and found a teahouse from the early 1900's that still serves the warm brew to weary travelers hiking up to catch a view of the receding glacier.
The most refreshing thing about hiking is how subtle changes in the body happen when your body realizes it actually can handle more than you think it can. The first 20 minutes of a hike to me feels incredibly overwhelming and then something beautiful happens: the muscles settle into the task at hand and everything comes together mentally and physically to push me to the end goal, which is usually the most incredibly beautiful sight the eyes have ever seen making the pain and exhaustion worth it.
The second hike took us up above the tree line, past waterfalls and around steep switchbacks to a rock structure that is aptly named Big Beehive lookout. For longer hikes I prefer to have the lightest layers possible that help climate control my body, stay breathable and stand up to the elements without restricting my movement. We had one backpack between us (me and my boyfriend) and we were able to fit multiple layers, healthy snacks, tons of water and one bear bell to keep us comfortable, safe and happy hikers. I can't stress enough the importance of choosing the right gear for hiking in areas like this because anything can happen at any time and it's a real environment with real dangers.
Even after exhausting myself on steep inclines, and so, so much walking, I slept the best I have in weeks, my skin felt clear and glowy and my body was forced to kick into action and rebuild muscle and tone. It was one of the most incredible and most challenging hiking experiences I've been on so far and because it was slightly off-season by about a week, we had the trails practically to ourselves allowing us to just be with nature.
Here's some info on the area and trails:
- Wander through the town of Banff and eat at The Grizzly House steak & fondue restaurant where they serve raw veggies to dip in homemade swiss fondue. There's also a healthy restaurant called Nourish that has amazing Vegan food.
- At Lake Louise there were two hikes we loved:
- The Plain of Six Glaciers- Not too many tough inclines but a diverse landscape and an up close view of a very old Glacier. It was so quiet that we could hear avalanches happening miles away. Be aware that the tea house closes after the Canadian thanksgiving (early October). 14km roundtrip
- Lake Agnes + Big Beehive- A shorter but much tougher climb with steady inclines and more in the tree line with a few moments of gorgeous Lake Louise views. Two lakes (Mirror and Lake Agnes) and the tea house is also not open past early October. These lakes are not nearly as gorgeous as Lake Louise but still beautiful in their own right. The extra hike up to the Beehive lookout is not to be missed. The first photo on the post is the lookout from there. It's gorgeous! About 9 km roundtrip.
- If I were to time it again I would have booked the trip in early-mid September to catch the Larch trees turn golden yellow/orange and be able to enjoy the teahouses and some of the other lakes that were closed to let the animals have space to prep for winter. It's definitely more crowded during the summer so I did enjoy the quiet but I wanted to also enjoy more lake sport activities and other scenic hikes (Lake Moraine, Sentinal Pass/Larch Valley, and Lake O'Hara).
- It's a super easy flight to Calgary. Rent a car and think about having one big enough for bike space if you decide to take mountain/road bikes out. A lot of the good trails and areas are off the beaten path which makes them even more special!
More on the second half of the trip coming soon xx
Shop the Trip
Big thanks to Eddie Bauer for letting me experience the Banff/Yoho Area. Here's what I recommend: