Banff, Canada – The road less travelled, or to Goat Creek…
Travelling. For me it’s all about discovering new experiences, getting off the beaten track and finding unexpected treasures round every corner.
But sometimes things don’t quite work out as you expect.
Personally, those times are summed up by two words: Goat Creek.
Cradled in the Rocky Mountains, Banff is a spectacular place to visit. It’s not everywhere that a town’s high street is overlooked by snowy mountain peaks, that glacier-fed lakes glisten all around you or that a walk in the woods can end up with you being face to face with Mr Bear.
But then not everywhere is part of Banff National Park, a jewel in the crown of the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains.
One thing that Banff isn’t is hard to find your way around, and one nearby landmark that is almost impossible to miss is the towering Sulphur Mountain.
Clue: It’s the very tall pointy thing with gondolas going up and down the side, and snow on top.
And yet, on taking the short walk to the mountain, I did, somehow, manage to miss it. Instead, I decided to walk to Goat Creek.
To this day I don’t know how I missed the way to Sulphur Mountain. I tried again the next day and managed to find it within roughly two-and-a-half minutes, by walking in a fairly straight line.
Nevertheless, my initial attempt saw me trudging into the woods surrounding Banff with only one signpost ahead of me: Goat Creek.
Well, I thought, it must be near somewhere, there must be a reason it is signposted – and I started off in search of Goat Creek.
Two hours of walking later, the seemingly mythical creek was apparently no closer and my route consisted of a tiny track through the no doubt bear infested woods.
Newspaper headlines started to flash across my brain: ‘Tourist found eaten by bears’ and ‘IndIANna Rhodes and the Goat Creek of Doom’.
It took a lot of back tracking, hiking over fallen trees and scrambling along trails to find my way back to civilisation. This was one ‘far from the beaten’ track that I wasn’t going to be searching for again in a hurry.
It was only months later that I discovered that the Goat Creek Trail is a bike route through the Rockies that ends up at Canmore – 18km from Banff.
Goat Creek itself is based at Canmore, and I was trying to get there not along a scenic cycling track, but through the middle of the wood.
Sometimes it worth remembering that the corner your unexpected treasure lurks around can be a very long bend…
> Picture of Banff.
Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Wikimedia Commons. Picture by Jiří Eischmann.