The Hikes, vol. 1
In case you haven’t noticed, it's nice out! And unlike last year, Alberta might just get a summer. With my attention turned to the outdoors, it's been tough to write about anything else. So I present you with guides and photography of my favourite hikes. If you're new to hiking and looking for tips or a push to get out and do it, in need of trail recommendations, or just like photography, you’re at the right place.
Before I tempt you with the prospect of seeing your Canadian Rockies in a way you might have never before, I should probably mention a few tips to get you started. Hiking sounds a little bit intense to a new comer, but all it boils down to is walking. If you're able to stand on two legs and move them around, you've got what it takes. However, bringing some gear with you on these walks will ensure no matter what happens on the trail, you're going to have a fun and safe time. Chance favours the prepared.
- A light backpack (fig. 1)
You need storage for your gear and your food! Ensure your backpack has a hip belt so it takes all the weight off your back.
- A hydration pack
Store more water in less backpack-occupying-space than water bottles. The hydration pack allows for hands-free hydrating. Make sure you have at least 2 litres.
- Hiking shoes (fig. 2)
A good pair will ensure comfort over the hike, and good grip is essential for safety. Waterproof strongly recommended so puddles don't turn your day sour.
In addition to what you're wearing, bring an extra warm layer like a fleece, and a rain jacket and rain pants. Even in July you can get caught in a freezing storm.
- Layer accessories: A toque and some thin fleece gloves will keep you warm should you get caught in a storm, and a bandana on your head soaked with water acts as a portable A/C unit in the burning mid day sun.
- Bear spray (fig. 3)
Hiking in groups and making noise is your best anti-bear measure, but doesn't another line of defense seem like a good idea? Purchase a holster you can strap to your pack's hip belt so the spray is easy to reach, otherwise it's worthless.
- A first-aid kit
Cuts, scrapes and blisters are a problem no more!
- Emergency supplies (fig. 4)
A compass, a whistle, an emergency reflective blanket, handwarmers, a swiss army knife, a magnesium bar to start fires and water-purification tablets will allow you to survive the most extreme and implausible disaster scenarios. It's piece of mind that occupies nearly no space in your pack.
- Hiking poles (fig. 5)
While not required hiking gear like the above, poles keep hundreds (thousands?) of pounds of pressure off your knees over the course of your hike, reducing wear and tear on a vulnerable part of your body. Poles ease grieving climbs and provide stability from slipping on the way down. Get collapsable ones designed for hiking so you can attach them to your pack when you don't want them.
- Park at the Chateau Lake Louise (about two hours from Calgary)
- Hug the lake’s north side
- Follow the signs
- Reach the Six Glaciers tea house
- Carry on to the lookout
- 14 km, 4 to 5 hour hike
- Good for all ages and skill levels, do it on a weekday to avoid crowds
- Park at the Kananaskis Lakes parking lot (about two hours from Calgary)
- Walk across the lakes from the lot
- The indefatigable trail is on the right, it starts with some rocks blocking the path
- Navigate through the trees until you walk along a ridge
- At a fork in the trail, turn west to go up the mountain, or continue north to do a loop
- 10 to 14 km hike depending on route, 3 to 5 hour hike
- Take care near the top as it’s a little demanding. If the top appears too difficult, the hike is still extremely rewarding before the final ascent