Category Archives: hiking

Post wildfire recovery in Waterton Park

It is estimated that 30% of Waterton Lakes National Park was burned by the Kenow wildfire that swept through the park in mid-September. The scenes of charred forest and buildings left park fans, including hikers, wondering what the future holds. For many who spent their entire lives enjoying Waterton’s unique landscape and flora, there was despair at what transpired in less than 48 hours. There was a tremendous sense of loss (see Waterton […]

Review: Katadyn BeFree Microfilter

After years of searching for the perfect water filter for the backcountry, I recently discovered  the Katadyn BeFree Microfilter with Hydrapak 0.6L flask—a water filter and soft, collapsible bottle that comes very close to the good old days of scooping water directly from streams with a canteen or tin cup. The variety of water filters and various treatment devises nowadays is overwhelming. Some people use tablets or chemical drops (chlorine […]

Waterton Park: After the Kenow Wildfire

  As autumn snow dusts the peaks down to the 2000-m level, Waterton Park has reopened, more or less, and is licking its wounds following the Kenow wildfire, the most devastating forest fire in the park’s history. The townsite is open for business and visitors are hiking the trails on the east side of the valley, including Crypt Lake, for a few more days. But it will take until next year […]

Avalanche debris obstructs park trails

Many hikers are calling this the summer of wildfire smoke, but it’s also the summer of avalanche debris. These hiking obstacles are the result of heavy spring snowfall followed by avalanches that deposited trees and other debris across mountain park trails. It wasn’t just a matter of snow piles covering stretches of trail. In some areas, large trees were deposited in tumbled tangles 5m high, indicating that these were once-in-200-year slides. Popular trails […]

High country snow lingers on park trails

An above average snowpack in the Mountain Parks will likely plague many high trails until late July this year. Trails above 2200m (7,200ft) on north and east facing slopes will be particularly vulnerable to lingering snow banks. While snowpack tracked close to normal through the first half of the winter, there was a big surge in accumulations at all recording stations in March and near-record peaks by the beginning of May. Warm weather […]

Elk Lakes’ refurbished trail system

The core trails in B.C.’s Elk Lakes Provincial Park are fully functional again following a three-year recovery from the floods of 2013. But one of the most popular trails into the park via West Elk Pass has been relocated and no longer travels direct to Upper Elk Lake. Nearby Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta took a big hit from the 2013 floods, but all the trails in Elk Lakes […]

More free shuttle buses in Banff for 2017

There will be more Roam buses and Parks Canada shuttles plying the roads of Banff National Park this summer as the park and Town of Banff gear up for the busiest summer ever. Parks Canada shuttles will be free, and Roam bus fares nominal. The expanded shuttle services, announced by Parks Canada on May 12, will serve not only general sightseers but also hikers looking to access trailheads around Banff, Lake […]

Spring hiking with crampons

With the onset of spring, most well-travelled winter trails turn into skating rinks with the daily freeze-thaw cycle. That’s why I decided to store my skis and snowshoes and try a well-reviewed pair of Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras. For serious hiking on snowpacked and icy trail, particularly over mixed terrain (occasional mud and rock), I found two brands that fit the bill—the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultras and Kahtoola Microspikes. Both are made […]

The Canadian Hiker’s & Backpacker’s Handbook

When Ben Gadd asked me to write the Foreword to The Canadian Hiker’s & Backpacker’s Handbook back in 2008, I was surprised and a bit taken aback. Wasn’t there already a wealth of “how-to” books about hiking and backpacking on the market? And backpacking was nowhere near as popular as it was back in the 1970s and 80s. After I read the manuscript in preparation for writing my Foreword, I […]

Aileen Harmon: Requiem for a hiker

January 14, 1912-January 9, 2015 Aileen Harmon was a pioneer hiker and naturalist in Banff National Park—the first child of Banff landscape photographer Byron Harmon and the last of the pre-World War I Banff “kids” who would become the park’s first climbers, skiers and hikers. When she passed away at the age of 102 (five days shy of her 103rd birthday), a flood of memories came back to me. Not just […]