Rest Days in Banff between sections B and C
My first morning in Banff, I awake early on hiker time, and limp out onto the main street while the town still sleeps. The streets are eerily empty, save for the town clean up crews - a mixture of tattooed austrailan kids and newcomer workers dressed in orange reflective vests, sweeping up the trash and hosing down the vomit of last nights partiers. It’s quiet. The oily-backed magpies argue in the bushes, the bow river flows to the prairies, the shop windows gleam in the early morning light.
I find a nice coffee shop, and savour a coffee with almost religious attention and walk out onto the streets in search of a diner for breakfast. Within half an hour, the clean-up crews have disappeared, and the tourists begin to filter out onto the wet and sparkling sidewalks. I have a strange sensation, as though I am invisible. After so many days without human interaction, humans seem precious. Anyone you run into on the trails, you make a point of stopping and having an animated conversation with. Here, the crowds part around me, no one makes eye contact, i could very well not be here. It feels lonely, but also enchanted. To walk through so much: The music playing from cars, the sharp smell of cosmetic products on the people who pass me, street lights and walk signals, displays in shop windows, and idling sightseeing busses.
People take pictures of everything: The mountains, the river, buildings, displays of bearspray in the shop windows, and mostly themselves. Everyone is wearing shirts that say things like "The Mountains Are Calling" and "Take A Hike."
I devour an enormous breakfast. Return to my hotel room and sleep. I spend the next two days alternating eating and sleeping, eating and sleeping. When I do my laundry I realize, with horror, that my hiking socks have turned green. My feet have been wet so constantly on this hike, that they are growing algae. I am very thankful for hot water and soap.