The Hikes, vol. 2
Another month, another long weekend! If the last article didn’t get you jazzed to hike, well, this one probably won’t either, but you can enjoy the photos!
So, you've got a taste for hiking the rockies have you? Well one of the barriers to entry is finding interesting hikes to go on, and then figuring out how to do them. It often involves doing a lot of homework, but it doesn't have to be difficult. The internet is a great resource, but sometimes it just can't replace a good book, like the Candian Rockies Trail Guide, a bible of sorts detailing many of the hikes in the area (fig. 1). However, that book lacks opinion, and some hikes may be far less interesting than others. You can supplement it with "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies", a book that explains which hikes are worth doing and which aren't. This book has far less trails in it however, so it can't quite replace the usefulness of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide.
Googling up trail names from the book to give yourself more information and reviews is a great idea, but you may discover a hike worth doing purely through the internet. Trailpeak.com is a good resource to find hikes, and I also like geeking out to Google Maps with Satellite and Photos mode turned on, clicking on areas and looking up names to find trails. I've discovered a few quality hikes through that shot in the dark method.
Once you've identified a trail you'd like to hike and know where to go, it's a matter of knowing how to stay on the trail you intend to. A GPS-Enabled smart phone (fig. 2) works well at this, though you will likely be out of cel signal coverage, so you will need to cache maps so you can look at them and your position without needing a cel signal. MotionX, is an app for the iPhone that allows you to select an area you'd like to download the terrain map of for offline use. Of course, printing out a map or directions to stay on the trail is a must so your navigation doesn't rely on an electronic device that may die.
You're all set! If you're too lazy to find a hike for yourself, I've suggested another two excellent hikes for your enjoyment:
- Park at the parking lot on the Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes trail (about two hours from Calgary)
- Follow the logging road
- Get on to the trail left of the logging road and proceed to the lake
- On the west end of the lake continue on to the trail to the valley
- Continue on past the boulders and up to the valley
- 13 km hike depending on route, 4 hour hike
- Make sure to continue on past the lake to the valley as the amount of views increases dramatically
- Park at the Chateau Lake Louise (about two hours from Calgary)
- Hug the lake’s south side, turning south on an asphalt trail after the canoe house
- Follow the signs, ignoring the Paradise Valley trail and Fairview lookout options
- Continue on the trail
- Make the final ascent, taking care to spot the switchbacks just before the summit
- 10 km, 4 hour hike
- It's not a long distance hike, but the final ascent is a lot of elevation gain, take it easy on yourself and take your time with it