On moving to the Canadian Rockies, the writer barely left home for fear of bears, but overcame it by feeling the Earth beneath her feet
Before I moved to Banff in 2014, I imagined life in the mountains of Banff national park would be idyllic. I’d work from home in the mornings and swim in icy lakes in the afternoons. Instead, I occupied the shadow side of mountain culture, one not portrayed in tourism brochures. What came next was internet addiction, isolation, social anxiety and insomnia, much of it fuelled by my crippling fear of bears.
The one place where I felt safe to walk by myself was a small clearing in the woods on the edge of town. There were long sightlines between the conifers, so I could watch for approaching animals. Still, walking the same 500-metre route between a train track and a small cluster of hotels soon gets old. To mix things up – and because a glamorous early aviator named Beryl Markham used to do it – I began going barefoot.