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Everything seemed beautiful in Banff.

I was in a constant state of wonderment while enjoying the outdoors. I would walk or hike around with a goofy grin on my face about 99% of the time. I probably looked like a complete idiot.

These YouTube videos come to mind of a child experiencing rain for the first time in her life or this other one of a baby laughing hysterically as her dad feeds her dog popcorn.

That’s how I felt while staying in Banff. I asked myself what made the outdoors different in Banff verses say Glacier or the Tetons. I realized it was snow.

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I’ve never experienced snow like this before. It’s big, fat, beautiful, fluffy snow, and similar to the child experiencing rain for the first time, I was awed while hiking around as the beautiful snowflakes surrounded me.

When it covered the trees I found myself stopping on hikes just to admire the forest. My focus, up until that point, had always been the mountains but it was now the trees stealing the show. The contrast of the dark, emerald-green against the bright white, was mesmerizing and my eye didn’t know where to focus.

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The mountains and the lakes are breathtaking here too. While hiking around Lake Louise in Banff National Park it felt like someone was gifting me with this beautiful experience. It was snowing in the morning but by the time I’d started working up a good sweat on the trail, the sun had already started to shine. In a matter of an hour all the low hanging clouds that were hiding much of the scenery lifted like a veil. By this point I was already well above the lake, so when I turned around, what was once a white cloud was a view of the brilliant blue body of water below me.

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I felt like I was a woodland princess in a play. Someone from above me would yell, “Cue the reflecting pool!” and there I would be skipping along, and stumble upon Lake Agnes in all its reflecting glory. “Cue the chatty chipmunk!” and up comes along this adorable chipmunk chattering away at me, so I could say my hellos on the trail. “Cue the tea house!” Now this one surprised me. The idea of enjoying a warm beverage, while still in the mountain never even popped into my mind. And I got to enjoy it twice as I visited not one but both tea houses located in the mountains near Lake Louise. Enjoying hot cocoa or a cup of Oolong after a snowy hike is now my new favorite thing.

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As if I hadn’t seen enough beautiful things in this play, that I call my life, I stumbled upon the boat house at Lake Louise. “Cue the solitary boat ride!” Here I am, the only boat on Lake Louise, soaking in this amazingly blue water. It brought me to tears…both because it was such a humbling experience that I was so appreciative for and because it was damn cold on the water!

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Even the people in Banff were beautiful. I don’t mean the outside-the-book-cover-beautiful we’re most accustomed to (although they were that too; beautifully tattooed and effortlessly hipster-cool) but good-hearted and friendly. While enjoying a Blood Orange Hefeweizen at the Banff Ave. Brewing Co., I hit it off with some locals. One of them had the most gorgeous lashes I’d ever seen so I took note of her mascara of choice. Another bar patron and I shared stories of our international travels. The three of us shared a shot together courtesy of the sexy and knowledgeable bartender. He educated me about the shot we were taking called a “Shaft” and it’s origin from a bar in the Lake Louise area. Being a Black Russian (who knew these existed?!) with espresso, it was one of the yummiest drinks I’ve ever tried. “Cue the drunken fun!”

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