Running water and flushing toilets are a gift. (I also have a strong appreciation for all buildings that don’t have mice)
2. Someone on your tour will absolutely do that thing that you told them not to. They will let go of the dog sled, and they will step in that ‘puddle’ on the glacier you warned them about that turns out to be 4 feet deep.
3. Always have a few stories or jokes saved in your back pocket. My tour bus once had an unexpected delay, and I found myself entertaining my guest two hours instead of the five minute planned ride.
4. Pack extra of everything. Have extra pairs of mitts, toques, and most importantly, snacks. Most of the people you are working with have travelled a long ways and are now in a new environment, and its not uncommon for them to feel unwell as a result, an extra Gatorade/granola bar in your pack could save your tour.
5. Tour groups love it when you sing. I personally can not sing, but the musical guides that I worked with were by far the most mentioned on TripAdvisor reviews.
6. Plenty of snacks are better than packing a full lunch. There’s not often time to sit down and eat a full meal, so it’s good to have things you can eat on the go.
7. You will clean up pee, poop, or puke more often than you think.
8. You will always be learning little lessons and anecdotes from your guests. I had new stories every day about interesting tourists I spoke with and loved meeting so many new people.
9. Squirrels are not afraid of sled dogs. They will break in to your pack and steal your lunch while your 8 dog team watches.
10. You will work long hours and be out in the elements all day, but you will enjoy every minute of it.
There is no better feeling than standing at the top of a mountain, cracking a summit beer, and looking down at the landscape around you.
The thing about hiking is that once you catch that first amazing view that makes you fall in love, you can’t stop. The search is always on for the next adventure, the coolest trail, and the hiker’s high after a long day of trekking.
Alberta is home to many breathtaking hikes and adventures, here are my favorites.
Tent Ridge Horseshoe (Hard,10 km)
I set out with a group of friends one morning and made the 40 or so minute drive up the Spray Lakes road from Canmore to find Tent Ridge. The first section of the hike is in the forest, so be sure to make some noise and carry bear spray. Once we hiked in closer to the ridge, we began scrambling up the left side and moved clockwise (as suggested by AllTrails, this was the best route).
We then followed the ridge around, amazed by the incredible views as we stood above the clouds. We stopped for two breaks as it was pretty exhausting moving along, but became less tiring for the second half as the ridge flattens out.
This hike is absolutely worth the drive out of Canmore. Be aware and check the trail conditions before you go, because there is often quite a bit of snow in spring and early summer, so you can pack accordingly.
Wilcox Pass (Moderate, 9.3 km)
Wilcox Pass is a all about the views without the strenuous trek up a mountain. It is located on the Icefield Parkway very close to the Athabasca Glacier and the Icefield Discovery Centre. You’ll find the most difficult parts of this trail are at the beginning and end as you gain and lose most of your elevation, but it flattens out nicely in between.
I recommend going as a group with two vehicles if possible. Leave a vehicle at Tangle Falls and drive over to the Wilcox Campground to begin, or you could try to hitchhike your way to the campground (not uncommon practice on the Icefield Parkway but certainly not the safest).
This is a great trail to bring your dog along with you, but make sure you keep them on leash as you are likely to see bighorn sheep and maybe even some mountain goats.
I enjoyed admiring the glaciers, and trying to identify all of the different types of fungi we passed along the way. Pack a delicious lunch and enjoy the day!
Cirque Peak via. Helen Lake Trail (Hard, 16.1 km)
Cirque Peak is an out and back trail that also begins on the Icefield Parkway, however it is closer to Lake Louise and begins on the Helen Lake Trail. The hard work pays off as the views at the top are among the best I’ve ever seen.
You will likely see plenty of marmots. Much to my delight, they ‘yelled’ at us most of the way. The adventure is moderately difficult until you reach Helen Lake and begin to move up past the tree line. As you move up the mountain, take plenty of breaks and continue on, the summit is worth it.
Expect to do a little scree skiing on the way down and be sure you have a windbreaker, and of course a beer for the summit, if you plan on hanging out up there for a while.
Every bit of that trail amazed me. It was such an incredible experience and I am eager to get back out there and hike again as soon as we are able to travel.
Some Quick Day Hiking Tips
** It’s a good idea to check AllTrails or other hiking apps for trail conditions. Especially in the Rockies, you could be hiking through snow even in the middle of summer. It’s also important to make sure there aren’t any trail closures or restrictions due to maintenance or wildlife.
**Pack layers, you may be warm when you start but things will cool off fast when you stop for a break half way up a mountain
**Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back