Before you read any further, if you haven’t read the other posts in this series, do so now!
Our last day in Banff National Park was bittersweet. In only the two days we had already spent there, I had lost my heart to this beautiful place. I knew we would be leaving that day, and I wanted to cry at the thought. We camped beneath tall trees, and as soon as I could see the sun rising through the material of the tent, I snuck outside. I wrote a little something down in my journal while I sat beside the lake that morning, which you can read below.
‘The sun has risen. I pull the sleeping bag loose from my body and unzip the flaps of my tent, and I step out into the cool morning air. There is still a haze of smoke in the atmosphere, though it has dissipated somewhat from how it was the day before. I wrap my blanket around my shoulders and walk through the campsite, to the edge of a lake. The water is calm, still, like glass, and I step into the frigid water. I shiver. Everything around me is quiet; campers are still asleep in their tents; it is blue hour. The only sound to be heard is the distant flapping of a bird’s wings and the gentle slosh of a canoe launching into the lake a few yards away. The day is new, and I am here to greet it. Good morning.’
We ventured out of our camp site that morning, and then continued on to our last day of adventure through the park. Our last stops before we left Banff was Bow and Peyto Lakes. Driving through Banff was like driving through a postcard, filled with the most gorgeous mountain images you have ever seen. The smoke had cleared and we could finally see the views for what they were, and I was blown away.
We arrived at Bow Lake, and hiked around the water’s edge for a bit, taking in the view and feeling the warm rays of sunlight on our tired bodies.
(Click the images to view them larger.)
The lodge at Bow Lake was so beautiful!! I loved the red roof and deck chairs.
After leaving Bow, we made our way further up into the mountains to get to the Peyto Lake overlook. It was so amazing to see this place in person for the first time! I had seen it in photos a thousand times, but there was nothing quite like actually standing there looking at the wolf’s head from above. Once again, I was astounded by the bright blue color in the water. It didn’t even look real.
We left Peyto and headed back towards Bow Lake, to get a few shots of our group together. I don’t think we had gotten a full group shot before this point, and it was more than necessary. Rock Rugged is the startup company we were shooting content for, so it also made sense to grab some good shots of the shirts.
We traveled on through toward the exit of the park, and our last stop was in Banff Village, which reminded me a little bit of Park City. So many cute shops and restaurants, and a whole lot of Banff paraphernalia. We drove by the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, which was gigantic and gorgeous. I wished we could have toured the inside of it, but we had to be on our way. We wanted to reach our Airbnb before nightfall.
And I’m so glad we did. This place, just outside of Cochrane, Alberta, was straight out of a storybook. It was a little side-home, located on a horse ranch, and surrounded by rolling green hills.
Our Airbnb hosts were this sweet older couple, and they wanted to teach us a little bit about training horses. We followed them to their enclosure, and we played games with the horses for a few hours. It was definitely one of the more entertaining nights of my life. We stayed there until the sun hung low in the sky, and then we ventured into town to grab a bite to eat.
When we returned, our hosts had started a bonfire for us, with s’mores at the ready. The husband of this couple had spent so much of his life traveling all over the world, so he was full of amazing stories to tell us. We sat and talked to them until the small hours of the evening (at least that’s what it felt like) and then we went to sleep.
In the morning, we said goodbye to the horses and our kind hosts, and headed back on the road again.
Our last stop on the journey was Yellowstone National Park. I had only been once before, and it was just like I remembered it. Beautiful, cold, and steamy beyond belief. After camping in the park when we arrived late the night before, the next morning we walked around the steaming hot springs and fields, and I took photos of everything I saw. Yellowstone is such an otherworldly place.
Before long, we were on the road again. This was the homestretch; only a few hours to go until we were back at the starting place. We drove across fields and through canyon passes, and saw the Tetons and Wasatch mountains rise around us.
Even coming up on six months later, this trip is still one of my absolute favorites I have ever taken. I was so blown away by everything I saw and did, and I feel so grateful and lucky for the opportunity I had to join this group on this amazing adventure.
A huge thank you goes out to my friend Jake Gibson for organizing this trip, mapping it all out, and feeding us along the way. I will forever be grateful I was introduced to this group of people, none of whom I had ever met before. Gentri and Delaina, thank you for being my adventure buddies and fellow photographers. I love you all, my friends, and thank you for making this a trip I will always cherish and remember.