Being in the Moment at Our Rocky Mountain Retreat


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North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff National Park » Johnston Canyon
September 14th 2017
Published: November 29th 2017
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Ramblin' RoseRamblin' RoseRamblin' Rose

Ain't she pretty?
We have been here before, at this particular Castle Mountain overflow campsite, many times. It is our favourite hangout destination in the Rockies, although we have certainly ventured to other areas in Alberta and British Columbia over the decades. We have travelled to the mountains before children, with children, and now return, full circle, just the two of us again. We have cycled through the mountains, climbing the daunting Roger's Pass not once, but twice. We have motorbiked from Saskatchewan through the Rockies to the west coast; we have hiked Banff’s Sulphur Mountain at least a dozen times, as well as taken on the far more ominous challenge of hiking Castle Mountain. We have canoed the mountain lakes and attempted to kayak the swift flowing streams 😊 We have not been short on adventures.

But the mountains now offer quite a different experience for us. It seems when we go there, we stop our busy-ness for a few days. We slow down, and simply enjoy being in one place, staying outdoors all the time, not feeling pressed to go anywhere in particular, and we often do not, for days. We still take along our ten speed bikes, but only for
Castle MountainCastle MountainCastle Mountain

Took us seven hours to hike this, if I recall correctly, back in 2001. It was our first trip to the mountains by ourselves (i.e.without kids ) in 15 years. We were obviously embracing the freedom and craziness of the moment, as we neither trained for this, nor even so much as purchased the proper footgear. We actually made the decision to do this one day before. But we did indeed reach the interior of its 9,075 ft. summit, from where we enjoyed the exhilaration of a 360 degree view of the mountain peaks. I will never forget the feeling of that moment.
short non-goal -driven rides. We spend a lot of time at the campsite, cooking, hanging in the hammock, doing yoga under the forest canopy, and of course, strumming the guitar and sharing music with campers we meet, often enjoying having the entire campgrounds to ourselves for most of the day time hours because everyone else has gotten up early and left to do stuff. It feels quite unusual to come here without the busy activity agenda that is the culture of adventurous mountain travellers, because being busy is, in fact, our norm - being occupied with something at all times. Having this time to simply enjoy BEING in the moment is a rare and very special treat. Or, more accurately, a retreat. And so we have named it just that - Our Rocky Mountain Retreat - and have stopped feeling guilty about not doing a thousand things while we are here. We have done that consistently, and will continue to be adventurous explorers when we head back to Asia in January - but for now, this is our quiet, very beautiful, outdoor retreat.


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The foothillsThe foothills
The foothills

"There they are! I saw them first!" The typical comment somebody in the car always says when heading to the mountains.
Follow that bikeFollow that bike
Follow that bike

Yes, it was good to be going against the traffic, heading into the mountains at the end of a long weekend, watching all the bumper to bumper traffic of weekend campers returning home.
Bow River Train PassingBow River Train Passing
Bow River Train Passing

Sweet to catch this shot in time to capture the engine.
Camping with RoseCamping with Rose
Camping with Rose

We snagged the best site in the campgrounds. Large, private, complete with our own private waterfall and running brook. What's not to love?
Our Daily VisitorsOur Daily Visitors
Our Daily Visitors

This was one of the morning rituals - chatting with the local birds, who came to enjoy our granola breakfast with us, eating out of my hand. Of course this required chasing away the tenacious little squirrel who never missed a beat of the action.
Really? Its Warm Enough for Yoga?Really? Its Warm Enough for Yoga?
Really? Its Warm Enough for Yoga?

I do not recall many, if any times, I felt warm enough in the past to practice yoga outdoors at our campsite while here. But then again, we would have been off doing a pile of other mountain adventures all day long, wouldn't we have?
Lost in the Giant PinesLost in the Giant Pines
Lost in the Giant Pines

Such a lovely spot.
Leaving the MountainsLeaving the Mountains
Leaving the Mountains

And so another trip ends. Although we love to visit the mountains, in all their dramatic beauty and intensity, it is always refreshing to return to our wide open prairies skies.


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