This was an exceptionally hard decision to make. I poured over thousands of photos, many of which mean a lot to me. I spend so much time editing them and they mean so much that they truly are like my little digitized kids. That’s why it’s somewhat amusing that the photo I ultimately ended up choosing was one of the first I took this year while dog sledding through the frozen forests of Alberta, Canada.
We were in Banff to enjoy a long weekend at its most popular time of year when snow covers the ground and temperatures can be frigid. We weren’t there to ski though, we were there to enjoy all of the other active pursuits available to winter time visitors. I had a blast and the Banff-Lake Louise area of Alberta quickly became a personal favorite. One of the highlights of what was already a great weekend was without a doubt dog sledding near Lake Louise.
Being the huge dog lover I am, I was both excited to be around the working pups but a little hesitant. I had done my research though and was confident that the fine folks over at Kingmik Dogsled Tours were professional and credible.
The barking is what we heard first as we drove up the snowy road. It was cold, Canada cold, and a fresh snow storm had turned highways into shifting avenues of snow and ice. Being a good Southerner, I was severely overdressed and I emerged from the car looking like a wintery sumo wrestler, but ready for the elements nonetheless.
I spent some time with each of the dogs, learning that Amos was a little skittish of new people and that Shiloh loved to give big, wet dog kisses. Sheila though drew me in right away with her glacier blue eyes signaling that one of her ancestors was indeed a Siberian Husky. I gave her a pet before hopping into the sled and prepared myself for what lay ahead.
Most of the dogsled run was along the old Trans-Canadian highway, now reserved for recreational use since the new road was built. Along the way the musher veered off into the woods, and in the process fulfilled a dream. I felt like a character in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, careening through the woods as the sun struggled to shine through the grey sky. Suddenly the pack of dogs erupted out of the woods into an empty field, the new snow untouched even by a hungry squirrel or rabbit. We stopped, looked at the mountains surrounding us and behind me I heard my partner say, “Can you believe we’re here, doing this?” I couldn’t, but I could. That’s why I love to travel, for moments like those, moments where you have to pinch yourself to really believe you’re lucky enough to be at that spot at that moment.
And ultimately that’s why these photos are my favorites, but the one above is the one of which I am most proud this year.