Category Archives: hiking

Coping with gridlock in Banff

Planning a trip to the mountain parks this summer? Prepare for gridlock. Canada, the Canadian Rockies, and particularly Banff, are everywhere you look these days. On the cover of the December-January issue of National Geographic Traveler and as the subject of a flattering feature article. And as a full, two-page photo spread in Lonely Planet magazine’s “Best in Travel 2017”. Just two examples of the flood of publicity lauding  travel to Canada, particularly […]

Akamina Parkway closure

Hikers bound for several of Waterton Lakes National Park’s most popular trails won’t have the luxury of driving to trailheads on the Akamina Parkway this summer. Parks Canada has closed the popular 16-kilometre roadway from Waterton Townsite to Cameron Lake while crews replace facilities at the Cameron Lake Day Use Area. The closure, which applies to pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicles, is scheduled to last until November. In […]

Measuring the length of Canadian Rockies hiking trails

When we set out to create the first edition of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, we needed a way of accurately measuring the trails, many of which had never been measured before. Professional surveying wheels with their small wheels and substantial weight were out of the question; we required a wheel large enough to roll over rocks, roots and other trail obstacles wed to an accurate odometer. That’s when we came up […]

Backpacking with Luci® lights

Technology continues to bloom in the backcountry, but one of the best and simplest I discovered this summer is the Luci solar-powered light. LED lights are nothing new on the trail. LED light output and reliability is used in headlamps and even strip-lights to illuminate tent interiors. The only drawback is the same as with most technology, playing with batteries and, sometimes, weight. Along comes Luci by MPowerd, an innovative, inflatable, solar […]

Larch Valley Hike: On the Busiest Day of the Year

Although the hiking season is generally spent trying to avoid the crowds,  today we headed up to do the Larch Valley Hike on what is surely the busiest day of the year. This was due to a combination of factors: late September (with larch trees at their golden best), a favourable weather report, and a Sunday. The free shuttle set up by Parks Canada to transport hikers from the Lake Louise Overflow Campground to Moraine Lake has been running […]

Golden larches gild the Rockies

Just like Halloween and Christmas, alpine larches (Larix lyallii) are providing an annual celebration in the Rockies’ high country. And despite rather grim weather last weekend, hundreds of larch enthusiasts hiked through mud and rain to pay homage to this unique tree that paints mountain ridges and passes gold every September. Larix lyallii is one of three species of larch in Canada that are deciduous conifers—unlike true conifers, needles turn gold […]

Hiking with headlamps

“I have been one acquainted with the night. / I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. / I have outwalked the furthest city light.”—Robert Frost Every day-hiking checklist tells you to pack a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries. I must admit, I don’t always follow the rules and seldom have all the “10 essentials”, especially a headlamp or flashlight. However, I’ve been lucky and always tossed some sort of battery-powered […]

First snow, first frost

It started looking like the end of summer on Friday, August 21st as snow blanketed much of the high country above 2200 m. Heavy precipitation and falling temperatures brought several cms of fresh snow to the high country throughout the Mountain Parks. Meanwhile, temperatures fell to -2 degrees in Jasper, Kicking Horse Pass and Bow Valley Provincial Park in the early-morning hours on Saturday. When we were working together in […]

Rating sun hats for hikers

What’s the best way to protect yourself from the sun while hiking? Not a question I lingered over during my career outdoors in the Canadian Rockies. But after keeping surgeons on both sides of the Great Divide amused last winter removing lesions from a lifetime of sun exposure, I decided it was time to cover up. (What’s that old adage about closing the barn door after the horse…?) While the use of […]

Best alpine wildflower hikes

It should come as no surprise that the best hikes to alpine wildflowers would be from the Icefields Parkway—Canada’s longest and highest year-round roadway. And this summer is producing one of the earliest blooms ever in the high country. First off, let’s be perfectly clear about alpine wildflowers. These are not the big, showy flowers that hikers find in lush, well-watered subalpine meadows just below the treeline. True alpine flowers only […]