• Blaine Hoppenrath

BAMF, I Mean BANFF

I mean Banff is a BAMF, let's be real. I have always heard how amazing Banff is and I needed to get out of the desert. So I called up R2 (or IG'd up rather) to see if she's let me crash with her up North for a weekend. She graciously agreed and I booked my ticket to head up to the the great white north for the weekend.



The trip started out with a mix up at the airport, but ended up with me a) sweating my butt off and b) a nonstop from sunny, sunny Phoenix to Calgary. I aced customs and headed to the Inglewood neighborhood of Calgary for some coffee and shopping. I had a few hours to kill while I was waiting for R2 to get off work. But when she was done for the day she swooped my up and we headed to Banff, her hometown.


The drive to Banff is a lot like the drive from Denver to Vail (with about 1/4 of the traffic). The plains subtly morph into the Canadian Rockies and then, before you know it, you are in Banff. The town is significantly smaller than I thought it was and pulled into her childhood home. We took a stroll around town, checking out Ribbon Bow Falls (which included a very treacherous trek) and the cute downtown area.



We came back to dinner being made by Barb (and R2 helped finish up) and had a wonderful dinner. I was so tired that I crashed pretty early and slept in a little while R2 ran 22k the next morning. While R2 finished up her run, I walked downtown and grabbed a latte which was followed by some shopping downtown.


Then we headed headed to the mountains and did some cross county skiing. It has been years since I had been cross country skiing. I learned when I was living in Minnesota on some very icy snow one year when my friend Tori found a meet up and invited me. We picked up some classic skis and headed to do a 12k out and back in the Lake Minnewanka area. It was very cloudy and even snowed a little bit. But we had a great time. We made to a cute little bridge then turned around and skied back. Upside, I only crashed once, an accomplishment that I am very proud of.



The next day R2's dad, Eric, made us waffles and we enjoyed breakfast before setting off to Lake Louise. We took the scenic route and grabbed some skates and found a frozen lake to skate on. It was very busy, but I still enjoyed it very much. The Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise keeps a portion of the frozen lake clear for visitors to enjoy skating on the picturesque lake. And, most importantly we stopped at one of the most picturesque places to photograph trains (I can admit that I am a foamer).



R2 made me wear hockey skates, which was fine, but I grew up on figure skates, and the two are very different. Most importantly the way one stops is very different. I managed, fell once, and chased R2 who basically did circles around me. Barb and Roscoe (the family pooch came) and turns out Roscoe was not a fan of the ice and Barb doesn't love skating so the two took off on a walk across the lake while we finished up on skates. Once we were done we grabbed some hot chocolate and headed back to Banff.



Like the legend that she is, R2 had a 13k run she needed to tackle so I wandered around downtown Banff and then walked to the Fairmont Banff Springs to check out and have a drink at the historic hotel. Now, I am a fan of railroad hotels in the states, but the Canadien Pacific sure did know how to build a hotel. The grandness of both the Lake Louise and Banff Springs hotels is bar none. And wandering around the hotel was amazing. It was the epitome of luxury, the rich sure do know how to live.



After wandering around the hotel I walked back to R2's place and spent the rest of the night eating Indian food and watched the Oscars and went to bed. We left early the next morning back to Calgary so that R2 could get back to work and I could catch a flight back to warmer weather.


The trip was amazing, I needed to be in winter mountains because its just good for the soul. But more than that I needed to be with my friend. My friend who I wouldn't have finished the trail without. I needed to be able to have a two way conversation about five months of my life that I miss on a daily basis. It was what my soul needed.


More than that R2 gave me the motivation and inspiration to keep chasing mountains and running towards my goals. I will never be able to thank her enough for the weekend because I know I will never forget it.

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© 2020 Blaine Hoppenrath