I've just returned from my 7th trip to my absolute favorite place, Canada. It's hard not to go to all of the usual spots, because they are famous for a reason. However, I find myself digging deeper with every trip, backpacking more and seeking out lesser known spots with far fewer people. As this is Banff's very busy tourist season, it was nice to get away from the crowds a bit. I started in Canmore, which is just before reaching the actual park of Banff. Canmore is fantastic, with it's breathtaking views and small town charm. From Canmore, I met up with a dear friend and we heli'd from the Mt Shark pad to Mt Assiniboine. I was here last September, but was caught in a snow storm that shrouded the mountain in fog the entire trip. This time around, I was able to complete the hike to the Nub (a peak that faces the spectacular range). We hiked this twice, both at sunrise and sunset. I know I say this about everyplace I've been, but this was truly an awe-inspiring moment. Although the "hot-spots" were very congested, most people never leave the car parks. One very fun hike I highly recommend is to leave from Lake Louise at sunrise and head up to the Lake Agnes Tea House. If you get there early, you can avoid the crowd and the views are spectacular. From there, head all the way up to the "Big Bee-Hive". Again, breath-taking views that overlook both Louise and Agnes from far above. To really avoid the crowds, head down the backside towards Lake Loiuse which is approx 5.7 km, but will take you under the 7 glaciers (I did not see another person on this last leg of the hike.. and the views were extraordinary}. If you are traveling to this area in July, prepare yourself for wide swings in weather patterns and plenty of mosquitoe repellent! If you have not been to the Banff/Jasper parks, do yourself a favor and add it to your list. I am always available to answer any questions or help you plan your visit. Next up: Switzerland and the Dolomites in a short 7 weeks.. Stay tuned!