Banff National Park: The spirit of reflection

avatar of @ladyrainbow
24 min read

Goodday Fellow explorers

I like to try different things and blindly see where it goes and I thought I would throw a curveball from my traditional travel posts where I take you on the external journey I'm experiencing to rather the internal one. If it's not allowed in the community just let me know and I wont do this style again. I have had a bunch of photos from multiple trips over the course of 2 years that I haven't shared yet because I don't know how to maybe this is the key.

Cascade Garden, Downtown Banff. The mountain in the background is Mount Rundle.

*Lake Minnewanka

*Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lake

One of the main reason I haven't been posting them is because somethings causing me to have really negative experiences on the trip regardless of the breathtaking views ad photos. I have the ability to just bear with crappy things as in eyes on the prize and ignore the external white noise, I guess it depends what I want more. With that being said, it's been hard for me to find words to describe a positive experience I really didn't have. I don't want to get into details but some of these things would put a sour taste in anyone's mouth on traveling, also the reason why I haven't travelled much this last year.

*Obviously not my video or music as usual but some Cree Pow Wow drumming from Northern Cree to set the tone while you read the post. This from the Canadian Plains, Cree Nation. this is what would be expected at ceremonial gatherings along with feasting and dancing. *An example of ceremonial dancing competitions also from external sources.

*This one is a home video from a vacation. Cree Canaries, a young family we encountered at Lake Louise during the height of the Residential school controversy, a stain on Canada's claims as a human rights champion as many repercussions persist today. The orange T-shirts are part of the Every Child Matters campaign. their goal was to visit across Canada and provide an educational performance to relay their message, honor the lives lost and reclaim their culture where there was attempts to eradicate it. Why it's important to learn the history of the places we visit. There are powerful stories of determination and perseverance hidden all over the landscape.

Since I preach all about silver linings, I also like to practice it. It's not just fluffy advice, it's not even advice in the first place, just sharing my experience and the results, you the reader interpret what you want out of it. Making it up as I live it like the next poor shmuck. It took me some time to find it but I think I have. Sometimes it's not about the good time but the lessons I may have learned from it like trusting my own intuition more. Frankly , all those weird things, a little birdie was telling me but I let others influence me into things I didn't really want and bad things happened as a result.

*Taken on a frosty November morning still in pj's exploring after sunrise with a coffee and a bonfire socializing with other visitors. The public park is the middle point between downtown and Sulfur mountain and Cave and Basin (3 separate set of popular attractions clustered together.

*There is now a pedestrian bridge built in front of this view to facilitate access to both sides of the park divided by a river in located in a park near Banff's downtown area. I'm undecided if the bridge adds elements to photography or wrecks it yet but speaking of changing landscapes, this unaltered view will never be seen again.

When we travel, we easily get caught up on the external factors and excitement of things that we often miss important aspects of our experience. How many of us take the time to observe and appreciate every detail and how it impacts us on the inside, what we feel, what we can learn and how we can use that experience to grow. Experiences are supposed to be about growth but if we don't take time to build an awareness to it, how do we really learn natures lessons? Good or bad.

Obviously with my eclectic reads, it will play an important role on how I present my connections between the internal transformation based on nature experiences. A weird mix of of a journey taken both in the mountains and in my pj's at home. For years I have been searching for words to describe this relationship in a public way as I speak on how I find myself in nature but never really able to elaborate how. Over the last year in my quiet tine, nothing has been wasted, all my readings has simply built my perspective and maybe now I have a few tools to properly explain thru the penmanship of other writers for a more complete understanding. This could turn into a 2 part post but we'll see, I'm not good at planning these things since I just let the words/energy/emotions flow in however way they manifest.

*This is the same park and view as a above but the day before, what a difference a day can make in the mountains. I much prefer the view with the fresh dusting of snow. Obviously this is an every morning ritual when I visit after I go watch the sunrise at Lake Minnewanka.

DISCLAIMER: Before I go any further, let me state that I'm not a trained or practicing shaman, I just like the knowledge and implement the things I find could be beneficial to me as tools to learn and proceed in life on my own journey to self/soul discovery to be a better person to myself and others around me, developing my perspective. In a sense that is the whole point of the tradition in the first place, use nature and it's wisdom to heal and protect. Some of the techniques talked about in these books I may or may not agree with all and sharing for informative/entertainment purpose but it's like anything else, take what resonates and leave the rest. Any of my opinions expressed are just that, my own interpretations and how I choose to incorporate it, not necessarily as a traditional value or historical standpoint or that of the authors of the books shared in this post

*This book is filled with wisdom and various meditation techniques and how to use our perceptions and natural surroundings along with other helpful tips on how to explore our inner selves, a helpful tool to bring on trips where some outdoor quiet time will be enjoyed.

Being an over thinker, every single thing I experience leaves an impact on me good or bad, I like to dissect and analyze every aspect of everything. sometimes it's a strength, sometimes it's my own a double edge sword. Many around the world say Canada doesn't have a culture of our own we are just a mix of everywhere else but that couldn't be further from the truth. The lack of Canadian culture is based on the colonization , residential school and all that other not so human rights oriented actions. Natives have been living here for millennia's far before Columbus or Hudson's Bay Company involvement into anything.

*These 2 pics were taken much earlier obviously along with posted under my @ladybug146 account but I provided a link below the second photo for a full tour of the Buffalo Nations museum where many traditional cultural pieces are displayed in the same location as the bonfire park location, they share a parking lot. It's a quick but worthy view, much history to learn here, i was pretty proud of that piece and fits nicely here.

Although their settling did change the landscape significantly forever altering the path Canada takes as a nation. The Native tradition also got overshadowed because White man is about written records and innovation meanwhile the Native traditions are centered around Oral traditions and a more organic culture around the surrounding nature that surrounds and sustains us. I can't say I'm an expert on the topic but I take in whatever information I can, since I like to study implement multiple concepts at once, it helps me keep a more neutral and objective view of the world and society.

*Cascade pond, another favorite morning coffee location. On the lucky days some amazing reflections can be caught here soon after sunrise, it's generally quiet this early in the morning.

I have yet to learn more about this concept or set of beliefs centered around Native American traditions, an area in particular is the concept of ALL MY RELATIONS. Although it's been difficult to find something that precisely explains it, I took a brief online course like a free introductory to an actual university program given at the UofA surrounding traditions and preservation. It doesn't make me an expert but establishes a direction. My personal understanding of it is analyzing our personal relationship with our environment, plants, animals, things, events, relationship with other humans, our impact on the future with our current actions.

If you delve into more new age concepts...Law of One or We are all One is a similar way of interpreting an old concept lost in time as we all got busy with materialism and shiny things, we lost our natural side of our humanity and it reflects on the world we live in today, divided at war with everyone having a vendetta to pursue until every last one of us exterminate ourselves for the sake of money and glory/titles. when we trample on the nature around us we trample on our own nature in return. Better understanding our relationship with nature means we take better care of it, in return we also better our own nature as individuals. Everything is a symbiotic relationship even if we lack the awareness of it.

*A really fat magpie waiting on the truck after a hike. They are pretty common everywhere here, like crows, a bit of a nuisance but totally cute nonetheless.

While I have been sitting here over the last few years, picking apart and analyzing my own duality vs natures duality to every tiny minute details, every aspect of life, every living thing has a duality sometimes it's the basic concepts of light and dark but human life consists of balance far more than concepts of morality within us but the concepts we also interact with as our actions can unknowingly upset the balance of something else.

*This isn't Banff, but in the near-by town of Canmore and water reservoir who shares a similar landscape than Banff but part of a Kananaskis Country Provincial Park that borders the Boundaries of Banff. I guess one could say, this is where the locals live. this view is part of a both dreadful drive and magnificent view. the road takes you up the mountain, it's a bit sketch with the avalanche risk on the road until you come back down, then it should make you heart stop in fear for about 30 seconds until you get used to the view of that high descending right on it and after the turn, the view from the passenger window for a few minutes. I swear my heart stops beating a little while every time, it's an eerie feeling but the view is well worth the discomfort. I think you have to pay now to access, there is a recreational park up there so there is stuff to do for a full day of mountain fun, it's less busy than Banff anyway.

*I know, he's not wild life but I couldn't resist that gaze, no doubt he was a good boi! I don't have the patience for owning a dog but I do like them occasionally as long as I don't have to live with them, I take advantage when I meet one at the parks.

In Native traditions, everything has a spirit even animals plants and inanimate objects. Inanimate spirits are the teachers, the ancestors. They know of all the mistakes that have been made as humans including their own as they watch. Rather than concept of above like Christian traditions, they walk with us in the same realm of earth just in a different form we do not understand. They are the spirit of Mountains, lakes, trees, plants, animals, fire and water, air and earth. I can go on but You get it. Grand Mother spirit maybe be = to Mother Earth and Grand Father Spirit = sky spirit aka God or Creator. Our human nature is selfish and it can be hard to relate to something that are different than us and attribute it either a lesser or higher standing than ourselves. Seeing the spirit of everything is a different way of placing things in equal importance and alike.

Seeing the spirit in things is creating a "like understands like" as humans, we have a spirit too, we are no different. The animal part of us often prevents us from seeing such, why we feel like we are lost in the sauce with life's chaos. The Father creates us and the Mother sustains us, every animated thing on it is our kin. It is our duty as humans to respect these relationships when we travel. Everyone of our steps or actions leave an impact like it or not, if one is unable to recognize the impact we leave is a manifestation of a disconnect within our own self. Being responsible like picking up our trash, respecting safe distances with animals, respecting our boundaries with nature, understanding the human impact and minimizing it is a collective effort that begins with the man or woman in the mirror.

As humans, to be more relatable with one another, we share points in common and find similarities and that becomes the basis of a relationship of some sort between two or more people where understanding grows over time and discovery. Nature is no different learning it's similarities with us, we can only learn if we take time to observe both in the wilderness as we explore on our fun filled mountain and nature escapes or by learning on them via books. What do we have in common? Instincts, survival, triggers.

Next to nature, since they embody the ancestors, having an understanding and respect for the cultures past on how to proceed either learn from their wisdom or from their mistakes. Leaving the observer to decide how to align one's own destiny or personality since both also have an interpersonal dualistic relationship we seldom recognize. By aligning our destiny, we align those of the people and things around us unknowingly like ripples in a pond. Understanding our impact on nature becomes a way of "thoughtfulness" that we transcend into our human relationships and understanding of the events and their relationship outside of ourselves. In other words, learning to put ourselves in other people's shoes but also in natures shoes.

*Water reservoir part of the local hydro dam on the way to Lake Minnewanka.

It's often difficult to see ourselves and our own spirit because it's something we are suppose to work at discovering not a knowing we are born with. That is the point of the human journey, discovering our own spirit and how to merge our animal selves and our spirit in a cohesive middle ground in our material reality. Often watching animals, I found myself wondering, how am I like them in behavior? Why do I admire them? Esthetically? Personality? Why do I associate with such values? If I dislike , the same discourse but in reverse...Is it natural opposites values? Is it a trigger of something I don't like within myself that I should observe? Is it simply due to lack of perspective yet to be gained? What is the animal/plant trying telling me about myself?

Native traditions often have colorful displays of carved animals stacked one on top of another on a long wooden pole called a Totem Pole, the theory behind it is we can also build our own to better understand ourselves. We all have our own personal Totem pole to discover for but we must take the time to observe all our relations to build it. Some represent your own strengths while others the path aka those you must acquire or those you want to reflect but not have the tools yet. Every plant and animal or bird and insects alike have values and skills to teach us. The things we recognize are the things our souls resonate with. Is it good? is it bad? is it helpful? Is it perfect the way it is or does it need a intentional tweak?

The traditional knowledge varies from tribe to tribe, culture to culture across the Americas but the essence and concept remains the same. I don't stand behind or question the significance attributed to each of the animals and other like spirits but you can also make your own based on traditional understanding like I do for myself, the internet is also a useful tool in discovering your own spirit animal and other power animals. Learning both it's spiritual and material attributes is important along with our own natural observations and opinions of them. Everything we think is a reflection of our current true selves but nothing is permanent and always subject to change. Will you expand your relationship with your souls as a passive bystander or do you want to take charge of what you put in it?

This book here offered a good deal of insight on how the author choses to interpret his own version of ALL MY RELATIONS based on oral tradition and his own experiences and interpretation of life. It was an interesting read and he reminded me of the concept of ALL MY RELATIONS that I had learned a few years back in that previously mentioned online course and had to smirk at the similarities to how I interpret my own experiences on my hikes and encounters without even thinking where this behavior comes from. Perhaps we are born with it after all, it's just a matter of taking the time to understand this gift!

Although the book offered a perspective I already held, that's the one concept I didn't know how to put into words and he does a good job at sharing his relationship to help others build theirs since we are all different and it is part of a personal journey in a better way I ever could. I recommend anyone looking to build their own personal relationship with the nature of our spirit using omens to tell us about ourselves.

Movies and fantasy stories have made the concept of omens and interpretation of such a sinister supernatural taboo but it really is what you make it or in the eye of the observer. Perhaps it is magic, our own magic we keep from ourselves within ourselves, our best kept secret that we keep it from ourselves...It must be valuable if it's well hidden in the last place we would instinctually look, perhaps why it's important to learn and understand our own instincts. On the other hand, our peace likes to hide there, perhaps it doesn't wan to be disturbed by our animal selves. We can be a bit scary as a species.

*Raven over the rainbow, they must have an omen interpretation for that. Pretty lucky strike tho! Most of the pictures I tried to stick to the townsite of Banff but this went too well with omens, still takenin the park but saving the drive for another post. can you imagine, all of this and we didn't even leave town for the most part! The photos in this post are a collection of photos from several trips to display it's full beauty at all times of year.

Current grand lesson of this portion of the post is, when we don't respect the nature of all things it creates chaos. The chaos we live as a society is based on a disconnect with our own true selves, if you don't understand your spirit can you be at peace with yourself? If you are not at peace with yourself, how can expect another to be? The world we share as one large human entity we call a society? Peace within yourself creates peace radiating out. Much like when feeling chaotic finding peace in nature where all it's creatures observe and respect the proper balance instinctually. Like everything was born knowing what we spend lifetime to seek. It's hard to stay angry next to the gentle soothing signs of the river.

*Banff's famous historical Cascade Garden. This is a view including the popular natural landmark of Cascade mountain looking towards downtown we expect to see when we think iconic Banff photo. It's just across the street from the Buffalo Nations museum and morning coffee and bonfire park. Cascade mountain is also the feature mountain seen with Lake Minnewanka, this is just on the opposite side of the mountain, yes most of the features displayed here are directly in town.

Once you understand your own relationship with nature and yourself you can intentionally use to create the state of mind , emotions and wisdom desired, learning to override your own limiting brain or thoughts. That's how we get epiphanies, when we take time to listen and observe both inside and outside equally, not when we run from our own selves. Let the courage of the Grizzly spirit lead you thru your own battles internal or external.

Now the above is only a small part of the equation. The land we live on or explore has equal importance. The land spirits like lakes, mountains, waterfalls and the likes are much bigger spirits with larger authority akin to what Abrahamic religions would attribute to the values of guardian angels and the likes. Storm spirits belong in that category as well and their purpose is to observe and maintain the order of things, Mother Earth's bodyguards. They can be favorable or unfavorable based on our own personal nature representing God's dualistic nature. We cannot fool these spirits as they know our nature better than ourselves.

I used to think it was a nice concept to look upon but one personal experience led me to truly observe and explore this concept in a more personal way. Spending the last few days on youtube to take a break from reading and get a chance to think of how to put words to what is currently brewing inside of me as more like an inner personal knowing, I came across a series of mountaineering videos and tragedies surrounding Everest and K2 and the effects of tourism and commercialization of the landscape and the repercussions both on the landscape and the community ( climbers and local residents), many of them based on stubbornness and inexperience much like we see in our very own national parks.

Perhaps our lack of understanding their moods and triggers and interpreting them not only in a spiritual way but their material aspects is why unsuspecting visitors. Story after story, tragedy after tragedy, it was a series of pride before the fall, the consequences of acting out of ego and ignorance of the landscape is a killer in the mountains and becoming more common, once again displaying a disconnect between human and nature.

Thinking we can control things we simply cannot. We have no control over avalanches, storms, floods, forest fires or even a slip of the foot that lead to our demise. Often times we can mitigate these things by interpreting omens once again. Carelessness only adds to the already existing dangers and put the safety of others at risk causing further harm as seen in many of the stories I watched or even read on our local news. Often never by intention but by careless actions.

*More from Cascade Mountain near Cascade ponds, that thing is a behemoth. Love it. everything in the mountains is about trying to understand a 360 view of an object and pinpointing your location around it, it's a lot to wrap your brain around to fully get it.

Omens can be simple things, you feel wind picking up and clouds forming over a mountain in the fall, you can assume that there is a storm you don't want to encounter perhaps delaying travel until conditions clear. Another would be, it feels eerie and staticky in the air, perhaps a thunderstorm is coming and should turn around from our hike so we can seek shelter before it becomes a hazard. Perfect examples of interpreting omens. That simple and can still be scientific in nature rather than mystical. Everything in nature has tell tale signs much like we do, you can use that gift to know what you might encounter on the trail in just about every sense. the more you understand and relate to all aspects of nature, the safer exploring becomes. Getting to know each aspect as if it was someone you wanted to get to know and be friends with.

Now to my own slip of a foot mountain experience. I have a good deal of experience getting around the Rockies and do my best to learn and take every precaution required for my safety but sometimes we truly are at the mercy of the mountain and lake spirits and this incidents stood out as strange for me. I was at Lake Minnewanka on a pretty popular hike that millions have done before me. At a specific section, to continue around the lake, we must cross a narrow pathway that has tendencies to erode so there are no physical barriers to prevent a cold plunge into the lake of about 20 or 30 feet making an immediate rescue impossible.

I was standing on the narrow pathway but it wasn't that bad. I wasn't even walking or moving, just standing waiting for others to pass when suddenly both my feet started slipping backwards towards the lake for no reason then suddenly something also unseen grabbed my clothing and pulled me down flat on my chest and face. That saved me from plunging into the lake and no injury. It all happened so fast.

Seconds after the incident and started to process wtf just happened and that I was down on the ground, I became aware of where my feet where and they were dangling on the cliff almost to my knees...over the cliff ready for the plunge. It was that close. After I came back from my vacay, I did some research on the Native American folklore surrounding the area and the name translates into English as "Devil's Lake" where the ancient tribes used to offer a ritualistic sacrifice ceremony to ask for safe passage of their members on the then important trade corridor between Blackfoot tribes of the British- Columbia mountains and the Banff tribes.

Sacrificial offering are not necessarily animal or life taking. An offering of tobaco, burning of a certain herb like sage or sweet grass as a fire/purification offering to cleanse the dirty spirits we encounter and carry, a libation other non destructive things are preferred as taking life is only for sustenance and is considered mother nature's sacrifice to us in the form of sustenance and the relationship must be honored for a balanced relationship and favor with the particular spirit for safety.

An omen of the spirit of whatever sustenance being abused results in a lack there of prime example the overhunting of the Buffalo to near extinction. It was a direct result of dishonoring the species' life so it almost got taken away. Buffalo was the main protein consumed until the colonization along with providing warm furs in a harsh climate until it was over consumed as part of a lucrative trading commodity with the arrival of settlers and The Hudson Bay company's early exploration expeditions.

*Not from the Banff herd but it's parent herd in Elk Island National Park near Edmonton. The Banff herd is secluded to limit human interference and allow them to reclaim their territory with only related care personnel and conservancy research groups involved with the rehabilitation.

Now we must prove we are worthy of the buffalo spirit and respect it to rebuild the once precious commodity. Buffalo is often associated as an embodiment of the Creator spirit, so is the bull Elk in others. both are important local traditional food sources. In other words a Christian could interpret it as we wasted God's sacrifice to us so he took back his gift from us. Any species going extinct would be considered Gods wrath on our human misdeeds and taking things for granted. Water is also considered an embodiment of the Creator spirit. Nature has so much to teach us!

*Mount Rundle, hoping for a sunset I didn't quite get. I like to finish my days here if I have daylight time to kill, it's a nice viewing area that tends to be pretty popular equipped with a paved hiking trail for nice lakeshore walk.

*All my time spent birdwatching, I always what kind of nest they live in but could never find one. Thank you spirits of Vermillion Lake for revealing this hidden secret. I could see some shuffling in the tall grass and ducks seemed attracted to it. This was taken from a good distance with a 300mm lens as any other wildlife.

The Bison don't roam the Banff landscape like they once did but efforts have been made to raise a segregated herd in attempts to bring them back naturally. The process included air lifting a herd from Elk Island National Park with both males and pregnant females to give birth on their ancestral land to encourage them to stay. During the first attempt to repopulate, they all dispersed to never be seen again.

*There is a saying about birds in the bush, is there one for tourists in the bush? I was hiding another photographer with the bush, he was one the same unfruitful quest I was to catch a sunset. I actually ended up working out visually with the red foliage to cut the space of the lake a little.

I thought this would be a nice opportunity to present both aspects of my beloved mountains. The landscape is nice and all but the local culture and finding my own personal ways to incorporate into my own values along with displaying a few traditions or teachings I have encountered even tho I grew up Catholic and this was taught as a culture to be removed and offensive, it's important to highlight it to welcome/invite the spirit of reconciliation in a meaningful way is to also honor the people that came before. I think it was offensive to try to remove such a beautiful culture.

*An early fall Vermillion Lake as it begins to freeze up compared to the above fall and summer views. Obviously my sunset hunt also not a hit this time either but it is one of the most likely place to catch a colorful end to an eventful day.

Today, across the Rockies, Indigenous tribes are reclaiming their rights and ancestral trade routes, museums along with reclaiming and displaying their history where it should have always belonged in the first place. More of the ancestral knowings and oral traditions knowledge is being written and published to help re-introduce Canadians to a part of heritage we should have valued and almost lost due to religious mis-understanding and mis-interpretation of something they labeled sinister before trying to even understand. They read a book by it's cover.

To Native Americans, these special landscapes are sacred sites to be protected that are of equivalent value of a temple or a church. Finding a balance between the sacredness of the land and resources it provides with the damage of the high profile tourism industry is a complex and delicate endeavor. As damaging as the tourism is to the local eco system, the revenue is necessary to continue conservation efforts and facilitate research and accessibility.

As we tackle realities like climate change an receding glaciers responsible for much of Western North America's fresh water supply with a lucrative tourism endeavor that further aggravates the health of the glacier experiencing melting rates never before seen. I have been on it for the experience but only once because of my struggle of the morality of it. a balance must be struck sooner rather than later between profits and actual preservation as it was intended to do.

Banff was the very first national park in Canada after the exploitation of a rare habitant's Banff's smallest wildlife habitant... It's so small you might miss it. Banff spring snails are an endangered species of snails only found in Banff's Sulphur hot springs. They almost went unnoticed and people used to bathe in the hotspring for it's healing benefits whom was also sacred to the local Indigenous disturbing and killing the snail's environment.

*Outside spring, the grey-ish sand in the middle called grey sand bubbles up at random to release underground gas produced by various underground living organisms. This pool is the slow trickle that feeds the pool inside the cave I will display in just a little bit.

*A surface close up of the grey sand bubbling action. that weird reflection in the middle left bottom isn't a weird reflection, it's stream of gas bubbles rising to the surface to cause the collection of ripples.

*Although not the most pleasing to the eye in terms of photography but if you look closely on top of the mess, there is tiny snails that maybe hard to spot to the untrained eye. They like to sunbathe on floaties in the pools, typical place to find them along with the upper portion of the boardwalk tour where the spring water is warmer. A park attendant is generally present to help with education and also as their own personal body guard as they are under constant surveillance due to their endangered status.

*A giant museum replica of the Banff Snail for display so we can know what they look like and what to look for if on a self guided endeavor.

*The rock build up in the middle is an accumulation of minerals where a faint trickle quietly supplies the pond inside the cave. A tunnel was later made for easier access to the cave to facilitate tourism and share this precious gem, the tunnel isn't a natural formation. The second photo where there is a hole at the top, that was it's only entrance for thousands of years. It has been considered a ceremonial sacred site for healing rituals by Indigenous.

*Museum mural displaying ancient and early settler/railroad workers access to the cave.

***Bring a flashlight if you want to take photos inside the cave, the only light source is the hole at the top.

*The cave and the tunnel access can get crowded pretty quickly being such a small space but the turn over is pretty fast, just don't expect this gem to yourself unless it's slow season aka shoulder season. prefer going during those times as accommodations can be cheaper. During the covid times, we took advantage of that , we even found $300 hotel rooms for $60 cad...just image, being able to afford a series of stylish stay-cations! Thankfully I have a friend with a spare apartment in the near by Canmore that help keep travel accommodations manageable.

The spring is part of a larger network that can be accessed by boardwalk down where lukewarm water from the sulfur springs pools and supports a completely different eco system with various warm water minnows along with a variety of waterfowls that feed from them. Along the boardwalk, there is bird boxes long the way where you can disappear from the wildlife to facilitate photography with a wall equipped with slots to stick your camera without scaring them. The area is pretty accessible and maintained year round.

*This is another eco system supported by the sulfur hot springs, despite winter conditions, green aquatic plants continue to grow with the lukewarm water supplying a rich diet for minnows.

Although Cave and Basin is protected, the benefits of it's healing sacred sulfur waters can be experienced higher up on sulfur mountain, same place as the gondola, as a more tourist appropriate solution was implemented to preserve the snail's eco system. It resembles a pool equipped with modern sanitation practices and very crowded but doesn't stop me from enjoying it. Don't expect a private exotic rock pool that's all. Open year round, the water is naturally heated by the sulfur from the mountain and temperatures may vary and smells like sulfur.

*Look at that view, I can manage to eliminate 100 ppl out of my surroundings like they are not even there for the enjoyment of bathing here! Worth the hassle and crowds.

*This used to be the old Sulphur pool located at Cave and Basin before it's current location but sanitation standards and size along with access to more water higher up on the mountain, it remains a historical building, education center and museum along with providing controlled access to the actual cave and natural sulfur pool that host the endangered snails.

*The two black and white photo are a painting on the museum door that replicate Historical images of the good ol pool days. Gorgeous view again! Which do you prefer? Things can change so fast over the decades, the older Iget, the more I value my photography and using hive to document it, maybe one day my pictures will be looked at as the good old days of something.

There it is my friends, a tour of the townsite of Banff and the region that gave birth to Canada's first National preserve. All for a snail we can't even see. Banff maybe too busy with tourists for my taste but no wonder, look at this place and we didn't even leave downtown. Don't worry I have road mountains and an over abundance of photos yet to share that I've been lazy about posting. My next part to this post will focus more on the books rather than the landscape so I'll keep that separate because this is a lot as it is.

*All images taken with Nikon Z6