Last fall a friend had told me about a hike up to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. There’s a two-week period, in September, where all the Larch trees are golden yellow and just marvelous. The wild flower inside of me was saying “YES! We have to go up there to see this! It only happens once a year!” I came home from work and told my boyfriend about it. The very next day we were headed out to Lake Louise for an adventure!

We had no idea where we were going! Just that the trailhead was at Moraine Lake. Once we got out to the lake we found a trail map, gathered our bearings, and were set off in the right direction. It was a bit chilly out and overcast, so the lake was a gorgeous turquoise blue, and the mountains surrounding were a crisp white. The drive out there was worth that view alone! A short distance up the trail we came to another big sign. This one had a couple of trail maps on it, but the picture that caught my eye was of a Bear Warning. There was a Ranger at the sign talking to people and we overheard him say that only groups of four or more were allowed to hike up to the valley due to a Grizzly Bear hanging around the area. I was devastated until I felt a small tap on my shoulder. I turned around and this little spunky girl said to me “You guys are a group of two and we’re a group of two, we’ll hike up together!”

            We quickly learned that Ellie and her husband were from Australia and were traveling around North America touring and hiking along the way! They had just come from hiking through the Grand Canyon (which is a dream of mine!). Ellie ran her own wedding stationary business and Jack was a sports car salesman. I could have listened to them tell stories about their travels and their life halfway across the world forever!

            Once we got through the mighty switchbacks it was smooth sailing along a nice flat path through the trees. I couldn’t believe my eyes. All of the Larches were actually a gorgeous golden yellow. I always associate that color with the color of fall and crinkly leaves. I had to touch one, and it was so soft and feathery! I thought for sure it was going to be dry and brittle.

            We continued along the path until we saw the Pass. It was covered in snow, but we’d come too far to not hike it! We stopped at the bottom of the Pass at one of the small lakes for a quick bite to eat and to rest our legs. We soon finished up and continued up the snowy path. About 10 minutes into our trek up the pass we quickly found out how awful it is to walk up an icy path with only hiking boots on. Luckily another hiker coming down offered Ellie and myself her Cramp-Ons. They were definitely our lifesavers! We each put one on one of our boots.

The hike up Sentinel Pass was actually a little scary for me. But what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you right? The view from the top of the Pass was breath taking! 100% worth the internal struggle I had with myself going up there. We stayed up there for about 30 minutes and just took in the views before starting our descent. Let me tell you, it was much easier going down than going up!

            After we reached the bottom all four of us went for coffee at this little café in Lake Louise and just chatted about life. We talked about our hiking goals, our dreams for our futures, and stories from our past. It was one of my favorite moments in my life so far and I will always cherish that memory.

            If it weren’t for Ellie telling me stories about running her own business and her successes, I don’t think I would have had the courage to start my own business! The moral of this story is to always go on adventures and explore and step out of your comfort zone! You never know who’ll you’ll meet and how they’ll influence your life. There are so many wonderful people in this world.

 

- Shelby

 

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