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Vacation walking for many brings thoughts of what we might like to explore as we travel. Depending on where we travel, the walking adventures of what we would like to do needs some planning and preparation.
This summer we returned to Canada for a holiday. My two daughters and I had our annual 'girls adventure' out to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. We went to one of our favourite places - Storm Mountain Lodge - just on the boundary of Banff and Kootenay National Parks. This following quote sort of says it all for us …
"From the verandah you can see Storm of course, and all the burnt-cinder pinnacles, the long slag walls of the Sawback Range with cloud shadows drifting across them - grey, violet, mist-colored, black. Castle Mountain too. And, looking down the road to the southwest, peak after peak, peak after peak, treed or treeless black or snow-crowned - vista after vista. If you aren't a real alpinist you can never see another view in all the Rockies or Selkirks. It has an austere grandeur that makes it kin to these snowbound miles far above timberline that few people but the Swiss guides ever see."
From a 1923 Canadian Pacific Railway pamphlet on Storm Mountain Lodge
A Very Special Place…
Banff & Kootenay National Parks are two of the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Parks designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites - two of the largest natural protected areas in the world. The awe-inspiring rugged wilderness offers visitors from around the world an experience of a lifetime.
We had a wonderful stay at the lodge but the real highlight was the walking part... we ventured out for a walk to Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots in Kootenay National Park 'just around the corner'.
(See images here and get more information if you are interested in visiting and walking in these areas).
Hiking At Higher Elevations
Before we did though we had to do our preparation part that included ....
1. Dress For The Weather.
Temperatures can change very quickly at higher elevations. In the mountains you can always count on sudden wind changes, rain or snow, or obstructions along the path. Sometimes all of them!
Be prepared for these by making sure you are equipped with:
2. Wear Warm Clothing
When the temperature drops or when your clothes get wet, you must have change of clothes to keep warm. If it gets cold, you will have trouble drying your clothes. Wearing wet clothes will be a challenge at these times to say the least.
3. Good Head Gear
A hat is good thing to have as it can fold into a small space in your backpack. A cap with a wide visor to ward off the sun, or a woollen hat to help you keep warm or a rain hat comes in handy should a sudden storm come along.
4. Proper Footwear
Terrains can change at higher altitudes. There may be well worn paths which are easy to walk on. On the other hand, you might encounter a path worn away by a swollen creek. Without a bridge, you might have to walk through creeks and snow patches. Make sure that your footwear can help you through rough times. It’s a good idea to pack an extra 1 or 2 pairs of socks too. Review our Walking Shoes section for more details. Proper soles, venting, ankle support, waterproof, grip design and sole composition are all things to consider.
5. Wind Breaker
If you are going on a day hike, you can wrap a light windbreaker around your waist. If you are going for a longer time, it’s a good idea to pack it in your back pack. It’s great when there’s a long period of wind and can help protect your ears as well as keep you warm.
Other Items To Help You
Gloves - Waterproof gloves helps you keep your hands warm and dry if weather turns stormy.
Hiking Poles - Great to help you with your balance should you come to a path that might be wet or icy.
Handy snacks - If you are slowed down for any reason before reaching your destination, a pouch of nutritious snacks is a good thing to keep handy. You need added energy to keep going and stay warm.
Water - VERY IMPORTANT. No matter what the weather is like, always keep hydrated! You are sweating more and exerting yourself so you need to drink water to keep energized.
You can modify how many of these things you might need for your adventure depending on what you want to do. And as always - be prepared and be flexible. A little preparation and planning can make your summer vacation walking experiences enjoyable and memorable.
And do feel free to share your experiences with us too. Just visit out Hiking and Walking Tales page. You can even add up to four of your pictures to go with your story.
Until next time we remain ...
Your walking partners,
Yoko and Geoff
PS - Hmmm. Maybe you’ve gotten a little fuzzy on why walking is so gosh darn good for you? Drop by our Benefits of Walking page again!
PPPS - Remember that we welcome your walking stories, hiking tales and tall tales too! Share yours with us, be published on your very own web page and maybe even win some neat prizes!
PPS - Feel free to pass a copy of this newsletter on to your friends, They might enjoy it too!