Beautiful things don’t have to cost the earth.—Unknown
My invitation to Banff came just twenty-four hours after telling my mom I desperately wanted to go to the mountains to “think”. Getting lost in nature is the perfect way to appreciate the simple things in life, disconnect from the noise, and reconnect with self in mind, body and spirit. So, after a resounding “yes!” to said invitation, I arrived at the resort town in Alberta, Canada with my friend ten days later. It’s amazing how God works: a reminder to be cautious about the words you speak, and an invitation to be ready to receive all that you ask for, even if it’s just what you believe to be “casual” mountain talk with your mom.
Banff and its surrounds are incredibly breathtaking and picturesque. During the four days my friend and I were there, we experienced a lot: more than enough to leave us both vowing to return for a second visit. Together we explored Jasper and Yoho National Parks, marveled at all the mountains, walked on glaciers, spotted several grizzly and black bears, and discovered the pristine glacier-fed lakes that resemble Kool-Aid’s ice blue raspberry lemonade flavor. The pictures that one will find online of Peyto and Moraine Lakes are amazing, but it’s nothing quite like standing among these bodies of water in real life. I was so amazed that nature could be this perfect.
Climbing Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata was the highlight of the trip. The term “Via Ferrata” means iron road in Italian: a protected climbing style that includes cables and iron rung holds to accommodate beginner climbers, and enable dangerous routes to be undertaken with minimal risks. Scaling up the side of a mountain was a huge progression from my novice-level treks up Stone Mountain in Georgia and Enchanted Rock in Texas. We did the four-hour assisted climbing experience, which included ascending ladders, crossing suspended bridges and experiencing breath-taking views from 7,000 feet up.
Snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean in Mexico was my first experience where I truly felt humbled by the world’s natural wonders. I remember getting in the water and needing to catch my breath because I felt completely out of control: powerless against the water’s strong currents. In one massive wave, I could be pulled beneath the surface and disappear forever. My experience in Banff reminded me of that feeling: a feeling of being emotionally moved by nature’s magnitude. A feeling of being both overwhelmed and filled with so much gratitude because this world is beautiful and magical, just as much as it can be forceful and intimidating. This enormous world in all of its ambiguity reminds me that my life can also be examined through this lens: that I am unique just as much as I am one with everyone and everything around me. The personal challenges that I face can either be problematic or trivial, depending on how I observe them. And although we are all tiny parts that make up the universe, the ability we each have to use our gifts to make a remarkable impact in the world, are astronomical.
Experiencing the Canadian Rocky Mountains also reveals the glory found behind the ever-evolving process of transformation. There I was in Banff admiring these massive landforms that have taken on new sizes and shapes as a result of weathering and erosion. These mountains have essentially been “worn down” because of natural occurrences. But despite the result of this wear and tear, they are still admired for their beauty by people from all around the world.
How relatable I found this to be to the human condition.
No matter what we experience, or the “weathering” we endure from life’s challenges, we still have the opportunity to stand tall: reveling in all the beautiful outcomes as a result of our own individual transformations.