Reflections on the Banff Wandering Roots Retreat
Reflections on the Banff Wandering Roots Retreat
The first Wandering Roots international retreat was a huge success. I already miss all of the girls so much! The first thing I need to revel in is the food because the meals were EPIC!
Abbey Hunter is the talented metal smith and owner of the Hot Spot. She has a background in and love for cooking and was our personal chef on the retreat. She crafted some of the most delectable meals that my tongue has ever touched. She made us meals, snacks and trail food for hiking. My mouth is beginning to water and my stomach rumbling just recalling all of the amazing meals that she created, so I will leave you with these photos for your viewing pleasure.
My other co-host, the incredibly talented Elise Kutt, owner of Mod Bettie and Naughty Bettie, captured the loads of fun we had along with the beautiful scenery. I’m so grateful that my retreat guests will have professional photos and video to commemorate their experience.
Before I explain each day’s activities, it's worth mentioning that all of my retreats are “choose your own adventure” style, meaning I create a suggested itinerary and you can pick and choose the activities that you want to participate in. This also means that I watch the weather, read the energy of the group and usually end each day asking how my guests would like to structure the next day. I aim for our schedule to remain flexible, fun and relaxing; a true break from our normal daily pressures.
The first day of the retreat, we had dinner in our cute and very spacious AirBnB and got to know each other. The next morning, we explored the Minnewanka Loop Road and stopped to explore Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake and Johnson Lake. We came back to the house, had a yoga and meditation session, journaled and had a late lunch. We then hiked Johnston Canyon. We got to see the clear blue water and the dark limestone cliffs of the canyon. We went all the way to the ink pots which are several pools made up of greenish colored mineral springs.
I was in Banff the week before the retreat and this is the only planned excursion that I did not get to do before hosting the retreat due to a snowstorm. The ink pots were quite a bit further from the upper falls than I was anticipating (based on all of my research while creating the itinerary). The hike is an out and back trail that is 7 miles and it took us about 4 and a half hours to complete. While we took our time for photos, we were also sure to be slow and careful on the snowy and somewhat icy trail. Was I glad we did it? Without a doubt. Was I grateful the girls were all flexible and didn’t mind pushing our dinner reservation back a bit? Absolutely! This was also a great lesson and reminder that I want to personally experience any excursion that I offer on my retreats (but I’ll save that blog for a later date.)
After we hiked Johnston Canyon, we headed to Park Distillery for dinner and enjoyed delicious meals that our bodies had definitely earned!
The second day, the majority vote was to sleep in, so we did. We had breakfast, journaled and had some downtime, which a few of us used to experiment with a bit of acroyoga. After lunch, we went to Vermillion Lakes for some epic photos. We also stopped for a couple photo ops at the Banff sign, Surprise Corner, and Bow Falls. We had dinner at the AirBnB and then enjoyed some WERQ fun, thanks to instructor Sondra Vogel, owner of Fight 2 Get Fit. We applied face masks, courtesy of Fox Naturals, laughed a lot and had a cozy night in (a giggly and lighthearted adult sleepover, if you will.) We went to bed early in preparation of an early morning visit to Lake Louise.
The morning of the last full day, we left the house at 6:30 am to arrive at Lake Louise for sunrise. We then embarked on the hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House where we were lucky to enjoy clear and sunny skies to take in the stunning views of powdered-covered pine trees, massive mountain sides and peeks of Lake Louise. We fueled up with breakfast and snacks on the trail, thanks to chef Abbey. We were fortunate to be able to capture a couple of yoga poses as well as some nice group shots. We made our way back to the house for lunch, journaling, some stretching and a quick rejuvenating nap. We then headed to the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel to used the spa facilities where we spent several hours soaking in the mineral pool, hot tubs and relaxing in the steam room, sauna, and lounge. We headed straight from the spa to The Block for dinner and I couldn’t help think it was the perfect way to end the trip.
I’m so grateful for this experience and for the opportunity to connect with some of the most amazing women that I now have the pleasure of calling my friends. Registration for my 2019 retreats will open on Black Friday!
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My name is Anna VanAgtmael, and I am a certified yoga instructor with a passion for yoga, travel, and connecting with others.
I believe in trying everything once. My values lie in collecting memories over things. Though we desire adventure and authentic experiences, naturally our fear holds us back.
My ambition is to inspire and encourage you to unmask your fears and jump into the unknown.
Anna VanAgtmael | Yoga Enthusiast | Trip Planning Wizard