What is happiness? Is being happy a stand-alone goal? A by-product of crafting a purposeful life with a strong social network? An impossible dream? This Photo Blogging Challenge post dives into some of the habits and practices I use to tune into happiness.
As a long-time blogger, I regularly notice how there's something about translating thoughts into letters that makes the brain slow down. It's a form of meditation, where the object of focus appears in black and white as fingers depress computer keys. On really good days, I enjoy a flow state from the time I click "start a new post" until I click "publish". Those days are rare. For the photo blogging challenge, the process lasts a month!
The theme for this month's photo blogging challenge is actually Photographer's Choice. With our oldest son at university for spring semester and our youngest son away at SHAD for 27 days, this was our first time being empty nesters for longer than a few days at a stretch. We opted to enjoy much of our time being out and about, hiking, biking and exploring in Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis Country. The obvious choice for this month's post was to showcase highlights from our empty nester trial period.
We first hiked to Citadel Pass in 2009. After seven years, two things prompted us to return: first, there's summer weekend gondola service to Sunshine Village; and second, the moderate elevation gain is something I can handle even with a torn ACL. Our late July timing was ideal. The wildflowers were fantastic! We also spotted a male Mountain Bluebird and enjoyed the company of countless Columbian Ground Squirrels. For more than half the day we enjoyed blue skies which meant great long distance viewing of the cone of Mt. Assiniboine - something cloaked by forest fire smoke during our 2009 exploration of this trail.
The trail to the summit of Fairview Mountain is steep and short, which just about qualifies it as a conditioning hike. But two key factors distinguish Fairview Mountain from most conditioning hikes: 1) the trailhead is at Lake Louise, so you're probably looking at a bit of a drive to get there; and 2) reaching the summit rewards with outstanding views of Lake Louise, plenty of glaciers and range after range of Canadian Rocky Mountains. If you're lucky, you'll also enjoy an abundance of wildflowers and the company of a marmot or two along the way.