but who’s Johnston?

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Johnston Canyon’s Upper Falls partially frozen

Johnston Canyon is a popular tourist attraction in Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park. In the summer, it’s an easy hiking trail with views of waterfalls, tunnels, and pools. In the winter, it’s a slightly harder hike, requiring ice cleats for most sane people, with a frozen version of the same views. For the adventurous, ice climbing is possible below a certain temperature.

Although many go with a tour (I did it through Discover Banff), it’s not strictly necessary. The area has ample signage and established trails – it’s impossible to get lost. There’s no entrance fee to Johnston Canyon (there is one to enter the national park but once you’re through, there’s no additional fee for the canyon) and it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Budget about two hours to see (and photograph) everything to your heart’s content. Dogs (on leash) are allowed.

According to our guide, no one is sure who Johnston really was. The rumor is that during the mid 1880s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built, a group of weary workers in a mountain town bar came across a man who claimed to have literally struck gold. Eager to have a piece of the riches, they pressured the man into telling them where he had found the gold. Reluctantly, the man pointed east, towards the canyon, promising to meet them there the next day.

The next morning, the workers went searching for gold in the canyon but all they found were waterfalls and rock formations. Disappointed, they went back to the bar to drown their sorrows where the bartender informed them that the man from yesternight had in fact headed west.

They pressed the bartender – who was this trickster who had sent them on a wild goose chase?

“I’m not sure – I think he said his name was ‘Johnston.'”

but who’s Johnston?

what is áætlun?

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Suourland, Iceland

What counts as travelling when you were born outside of the country you grew up in?

I think the first time I really experienced travel was just 4 years ago. I had left the country before that, of course, but to places that didn’t register as new exposures – cosmopolises in the developed world and quaint but familiar towns no more than a 2-hour flight from Toronto.

In the summer of 2013, after a couple weeks bumming around continental Europe, a friend and I went to Iceland. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. As an unequivocal “big city person”, I had never been much for nature and the outdoors before this but afterwards, I was hooked.

I dreamt about Iceland.

Tried to get married there.

Doubled down on Sigur Rós and Bjork.

Looked for Skyr at the supermarket.

You get the point.

When it came time to pick an Instagram handle for my travel photos, I wanted “itinerary” but that was taken. So I paid homage to my first bonafide travel experience and looked it up in Icelandic – “ferðaáætlun”. That was a bit much for someone who couldn’t speak a word of Icelandic and had, in fact, only spent 5 full days in the country. “Ferða” means travel, and someone cleverer than I had already registered it. “Áætlun” means plan – this seemed fitting for my ENTJ personality, so here we are a year and a half later with its bastardized English keyboard-friendly version. 

what is áætlun?