“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.”Gandalf in his letter to Froda, Book 1, Chapter 10, “The Riddle of Strider” in The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R.Tolkien
I arrived safely home from my first international trip since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s been such a long time that I almost felt like a travel newbie again! Add the complications of frequent airline changes and COVID documentation and I felt that I had to stay constantly alert for plan adjustments. As I told a friend, international travel these days is like brain exercises. And that’s a good thing because I need it—pandemic solitude has put me in a stupor most days this past year or two.
The trip started with thunderstorms that I was afraid would create another flight delay but not to worry. We flew through the storm clouds. I was really glad I had my monochrome camera with me. I just kept clicking and clicking and luckily, caught one of the thunderbolts that kept illuminating my plane window. I’ve always said I would rather be lucky than good, it’s more reliable. And this photo was definitely one of luck.
Banff was staggeringly beautiful, of course. The last time I was in Banff was with my two wonderful kiwi friends, Anne and Roger, so this revisit prompted many fond memories. And on this trip, I was with a small group of very kind, talented photographers whose company was very enjoyable and added to the adventure.
What I did NOT anticipate were the physical problems I had to cope with. As I have also told friends, physicians make the worst patients. I’ve had a moderate iron deficiency anemia for the last two years that will require an in-hospital stay for iron transfusion. I’ve been putting the intervention off because, well, it’s been a pandemic. And it hasn’t really caused me many problems at home (other than possibly being a co-factor in the stupor previously mentioned ? ).
However, it was a big problem at altitude. My resting saturations were less than 92% most of the time which meant that my heart rate was pretty consistently in the 80-100 range. My normals at rest and at home are saturations greater than 95% and a heart rate in the 50s. So, it was a big change and I felt myself huffing and puffing on all our hikes. Grrrrrrrr! Getting old is no fun! Being unfit is no fun! I guess I’ll have to address the anemia issue sooner rather than later. Particularly if I travel again to altitude and cold.
But the unique glacial blue mountain lakes around Banff glimmered in the sun and reflected gorgeous colors at sunrise. Elk and Bighorn sheep frolicked along the roads we traveled. And despite the fact that I was slow and languished behind my travel compatriots, I got to see and enjoy it all.
Peyto Lake is one of the phenomenally impressive glacial lakes right outside Banff. Unfortunately, the road to Peyto Lake has been closed for two years because of construction in the park but we were fortunate to be in Banff when it opened this year. The first day we tried to visit, we had to turn away because of severe weather conditions negatively impacting the access road. No problem! Plan B involved photographing luminous cypress trees alongside the road.
But by the next day, conditions had improved and we revisited Peyto Lake. We hiked through a winter wonderland of snow-covered trees to get to the elevated view. And then…there it was! The ‘wolf head’ that is Peyto Lakes identity. Someone said only children are able to see the wolf head naturally. That the only reason adults see it is because they’ve been told to look for it. Regardless, it was beautiful.
And we were so fortunate on our last night to have the opportunity to photograph the aurora over Emerald Lake. Stunning visuals and one of those memories that you file away to be savored in the future, over and over again.
All in all, a memorable start to, once again, begin my ‘wanderings’. Next stop? Kenya!
Good light and safe travels to all!