There’s something godly about mountains, rugged, majestic, and untamed. They can both inspire and humble, lift you up and put you in your place. Before them, we stand in awe. They help re-calibrate our sense of value and meaning. They teach us that, out here, beyond the noise and speed of the modern city, there is clarity, peace of mind, and adventure. They remind us that not all things are commodities, not everything can be evaluated by inhuman market-forces. With the drudgery of dirty, congested freeways and the banality of doing life in a cubicle, the loneliness of being lost in an impersonal crowd and the disenchantment that comes from living in the modern world, we suspect that nothing has intrinsic worth, even our own souls. We need to be reminded of beauty, of love, of the sacred. These majestic, godly, snow-capped peaks, teaming with wildlife, do that. They can restore a sense of wonder, puncturing the falseness of our illusory worlds, and making us see once again that we must be transformed.
Many people dream of coming to Alberta. Every time I travel I meet more people who have this dream. We’re famous throughout the world for our majestic Rocky Mountain peaks and wildlife. I’m lucky to live only minutes away from one of the most glorious spots on earth. But, I also know that an escape to Banff or Canmore, while charming, oftentimes puts you back into the lost crowd, the mass of humanity grasping after consumption. The tourist faces a double-edged sword: one edge of new adventure, the other edge of ever-present sameness.
There’s an intimate, personable place in Alberta, just south of Canmore, a lodge perched up on a meadow known as “the Serengeti of the Rockies.” This is truly a hidden gem, a local secret. It’s a cozy lodge, with a huge deck, nice fireplaces, and just a few rooms. In their back yard, Moose Meadow, you’re guaranteed to see a parade of wildlife: moose, elk, deer, big horn sheep, coyotes, beavers, bears, bald eagles, owls, and much more. Here you can relax. Take in the surrounding scenery. Read a book. Drink some tea. Make a new friend. Or, you can push yourself. In the winter, the cross-country ski trails lead you right out of the lodge into Moose Meadow up to the lakes, nearby. There are literally 100’s of kilometers of ski trails in Kananaskis country, and the nearby Mt. Shark trails are frequently home to Canada’s Olympic team. The summer offers spectacular scenery for hikers of any skill level, canoeing, biking, fishing, star gazing, and even horse-back riding is nearby.
Many prestigious publications have featured Mt. Engadine Lodge, such as Canadian Geographic, and they agree that it is one of Alberta’s best kept secrets. It has won many awards, including the 2010 award for sustainable tourism by Travel Alberta. The lodge is about an hour drive south from Canmore along Spray Trail (aka Smith Dorrien Trail). This gravel road is one of the most beautiful drives in the province, and it’s near where I proposed to my wife! But, do be careful, as it’s a windy, narrow road, and there has recently been a tragic accident in the Spray Lakes. Just drive slow, enjoy the view, prepare to relax. This is the spot that will make you want to keep coming back, again and again.
Photo by: Mt. Engadine Lodge website, http://www.mountengadine.com/fotos2.html