The other week my friend, Sarah and I, headed up to Banff (a mountain town in the Rockies about an hour away from Calgary) for a bit of an escape day from the city. I had planned to go up and see an old friend of mine, Catie, who I worked with at a ranch in Nanton. She is now a guide, and manager, up at Warner's Guiding and Outfitting in Banff. It was a happy coincidence an old-riding leader from my other Ranch, Bates, was working there as well this summer. Unfortunately, both friends had to work, but we figured we'd make a day out of it anyway!
Once we got there and said hi, we were told that if we wanted to, we could go on one of the one hour trail rides that Warner's Guiding and Outfitting does from the Banff Springs Hotel. This is like the epitome of a "tacky" tourist ride, but, we thought - heck might as well, a ride is a ride! and to top it all off, our old friend Garry was to lead it!
We got onto our trusty mounts, I was riding Zorro! Our ride-mates were a mother and her two children, a brother and sister, both who started hysterically crying before the ride began. My friend on the ground, Catie, promptly handed me a lead-rope attached to the girl and with a bit of a grimace said, "would you mind ponying her?". I agreed, apparently, you can take the camp away from the counsellor, but you can't take the counsellor out of the girl.
It was actually quite the stunning ride, it was a bit surreal walking a horse alongside a highway, or through a parking lot, but we got to see some of Banff's sites from horseback. Here is Bow Falls!
This was a horse-crossing sign beside a golf course. I've heard tales of girls in mini-skirts and flip flops doing this ride, but let me tell you guys, us two-ex guides were dressed appropriately for the occasion!
Here is the Banff Springs Hotel above the golf course, the Banff Springs is like a fairytale castle, it is potentially one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. I love going there. We wandered around inside for a bit before our ride, and it smelt like Jasmine from the spa, and... a very well cooked steak. Basically, it smelt like rich people. It's a bit of a pricey place to stay... maybe one day. ;)
Here is my ponying companion, who, after 2 minutes, stopped crying and started chatting with us. She apparently had done a couple rides before and realistically just wanted to trot the whole time. Kids, I tell ya, zero to sixty. Scared to "I WANNA GO FAST". Then, my compadre, Sarah in the background doing what tourists do... taking selfies on her iPhone!
Here is Garry leading the little brother through a beautiful river, the boy cried (... wailed) a bit longer than his sister, but eventually was won over by Garry's authentic cowboy cool. Their mother seemed relieved that her kids were in good hands, and seemed to enjoy herself probably a littttttle bit more than she would have if we weren't along for the ride.
Beautiful! Just a hop skip and a jump from Calgary, basically our backyard!
The surreal moments kept coming... our trail ride had to diverge through a parking lot due to electrical wires being changed around in the nearby forest.
Then of course, Garry had to push the button on the cross walk to stop traffic for us, can't say I've ever done that on my horse before!
Garry, our fearless leader, is indeed a bit of a ham.
Zorro - my trusty steed!
I introduced Sarah to the "Princess Pose" after I discovered it at Ranch Girls - now it's a must in our photos. This is a very tourist photo indeed - I could care less what my horse looks like - shame on me!
Two tourists, out for a ride!
It sure felt good to be horseback with two old friends again, we had such a lovely ride, the "tourist" parts of it (crosswalks and navigating by a precarious sewage truck) only made it that much more fun and memorable. Sarah and I were very happy to have been able to get a ride in on our "escape day" & I got to check something else off the "never done this before" list.
Next up Sarah and I have decided that we're due for a tourist ride.... galloping along the beach somewhere tropical. Girls can dream, right?