Banff Snapshots and Final Thoughts on Leaving

Bow Falls Selfie - Banff National Park - Canada

First selfie with the GoPro taken on the trail around Tunnel Mountain.

Banff was blissfully quiet. Nothing but sunshine, Autumn winds, chirping crickets, and my own thoughts to accompany me on the trails. Not having to think about anything except putting one foot in front of the other and using my curiosity as my compass whenever I came to a fork in the trail was a welcome mental reset. What’s more, I found that it was easier to be detached from technology when others around me weren’t breaking out their phones every 5 seconds or setting up shop in a cafe on a beautiful day. People wanted to be present, and for good reason. Seeing the the same landscapes through a camera’s viewfinder can get old quick, but my own eyes never tire of the different angles and sublime scenery.


Halfway point on the trail up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse

If I have any advice to offer it’s that in order to move at your own pace, the early bird gets the worm. That means hitting the trails between 6-9am. For me, on the steep, all uphill trail up to Lake Agnes Teahouse, I kept asking myself why I thought this was a good idea first thing in the morning. Huffing and puffing the whole way, constantly looking up to gauge how much further I had to go, I could only hope the trip was worth it. Well, when I saw the sun rising over the mountains, I got the answer to my question. A majestic sunrise plus the morning’s cool temperatures had a cleansing effect that made it worth sacrificing the sleep. On top of that, it seemed like I was only 1 of 2 people on the trail, until my descent where I passed dozens and dozens only getting started on their hike and a massive crowd at Lake Louise. SO, as I said, to avoid heavy foot traffic on the trails, the earlier you start, the more relaxed your hike will be.

As for food, while the town has a wide variety of dining options, eating out is expensive and the food is disappointingly mediocre. It is cheaper and healthier to stock up on groceries and cook for yourself during your trip. And I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. My recommendation is to have at least 1 liter of water on you at all times. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug repellent, and bear spray either.

All that said, enjoy a few of my favorite photos from my trip.


Early morning hike around Tunnel Mountain.


Lower Canyon trail at Johnston Canyon. If you go to Banff, this is a good trail to start off with. Not too strenuous, gorgeous scenery, refreshing breeze, and an ice cream stand at the entrance/exit.


On the road to Yoho National Park with my friends Steven and Tanya. Traffic was at a dead stop so everyone got out of their cars to stretch and take pictures.


More selfies near Yoho Hi-Hostel tucked away in the woods.


Found paradise at Barrier Lake.


This last selfie in Kananaskis Country ROCKS.


Natural born explorers.


Kokuma enjoyed all the hiking and scenery too.


  • Axed the newsletter – I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should continue the Wandering Souldier newsletter, and I’ve finally decided to axe it. It has been a crazy year and with the future showing no signs of slowing down, something had to go. For now, writing and photography are my two main priorities. Perhaps I’ll revive the newsletter one day when WS gains more traction, but until then, it’s one less thing to worry about. As for my free photo e-book, the current version will still be available to anyone who wants it, but I’m working on making it “100 Snapshots from Around the World” instead of 75. When the new version is ready, I’ll let you know!
  • T-shirts – Remember those t-shirt designs I showed you a while back? I have yet to do anything with them, but since I’ve got some quality time in airports ahead of me, it will be a good opportunity to finally get the Teespring campaigns up and running. When I do, you’ll see a post here on WS as well as updates on all my social media accounts.
  • Go Pro – If you read the captions on the photos in this post, you’ll know that I bought a GoPro. It was an early birthday present to myself. My trip to Banff was the first test run with this camera, and I’m VERY happy with the results. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to exploring the world through a new lens and taking lots of photographs to ignite your wanderlust (might even start doing videos).
  • Wandering Nippon – Given that I’m relocating to Japan, it’s safe to say that, moving forward, posts will be Japan focused. Not all of them, but with a new series called Wandering Nippon, I hope to showcase everything I love about Japan through photos, food, and stories. It will be my effort to entice as many friends and readers to come visit.

On the drive back to Banff, we saw deer, goats, and my favorite, a moose! So cool to see wildlife up close in their natural habitat.

Final Thoughts on Leaving

When I sit down and try to muddle my way through a Japanese newspaper, I end up just staring at the page, hoping that my brain will magically translate the content. As I dig further into the nitty gritty of the language, I edge closer to a mental breakdown. Maybe I’m in over my head. Scratch that, I’m definitely in over my head. There’s no denying that I have my work cut out for me learning the language and adapting to life and customs in a new country. But, just when I think I should call this whole thing off, I see pictures online, watch my favorite Japanese television shows and remember just how badly I want to move to Japan. I sit back and let my mind succumb to all the possibilities, learning opportunities, and travels that await on the other side of this anxiousness. I’m ready. I’ve been ready, and I remind myself that the first step is always the hardest.

At work, they asked me what I’ll miss when I leave. Friends and family, that’s it. Things like favorite foods, phones, books, etc. can be replaced, but people cannot. The last few days have been full of farewells, each goodbye leaving me feeling more somber than the last. More than that, I’m left with a sense that there’s not a place here for me anymore, I’ve outgrown my old life. I’m overdue for moving on, starting anew somewhere with people my own age, a fresh environment for my creativity and curiosity to run wild. So I’m jumping in with both feet ready to work hard to keep my dreams alive.

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