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Paul and Helen's Hiking Page



Welcome to Paul and Helen Rimmer's Hiking Website


Yoho Valley - View of Iceline from
Whaleback


Helen and I love to go hiking and camping in the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Parks that are all a short drive away from our home in Calgary, Alberta. We are unbelievably lucky to have so many beautiful places within such a short distance. On this page we'll tell you where are favourite places are and then what equipment we use when we are out and about. We hope you enjoy this and if you have any questions, feel free to drop us an email.

Areas We Frequent

Here's a summary of our favourite places. Click the picture on the left of the description to go to our gallery/v/hiking of photos for that area.

Kananaskis

Kananaskis Provincial Park is the closest mountain area to Calgary. It's only a short 1 hour drive away. The most popular area is centered around Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. We've been meaning to check out the area around Highwood Pass as it looks like there are lots of great trails there also. Be careful with food around the campsite as lots of grizzlies call this area home.

Upper Kananaskis Lake
Upper Kananaskis Lake Circuit
For a short, easy hike you can do the Upper lake Circuit.
Mount
Indefatigable
Mount Indefatigable
For the spectacular views try the quick slog up Mount Indefatigable or as Helen likes to call it, Mount I'mSoFrickinFatigable.


Waterton

Waterton National Park is the furthest of our favourite areas from Calgary. It's about a 3 hour drive down highway 22 to Pincher Creek and along to the park. Our favourite campground here is Crandell Mountain as we find the townsite one is too exposed and full of RVs. We do use the townsite campground to take our showers though. One thing to be aware of is that the park closes labour day weekend. We showed up there on the monday after that weekend. The weather was beautiful, 30 degrees plus, but the place was shutting down. We were told that most of the workers are university students so they have no choice but to close at this time. A shame really because there's still lots of great hiking to be done at that time of year.

Entrance
to Crypt Lake Tunnel
Crypt Lake
Take a boat ride across Waterton Lake to the head of the Crypt Lake trail and hike up to Crypt Lake. It's an average hike until the end when it gets really neat. You have to crawl through a tunnel through a cliff to get to a bowl where Cypt lake lies.
Coming down from
Lineham ridge
Lineham Ridge
Lineham Ridge trail is fantastic. You get to scenery real quick and the large elevation gain is spread out so it doesn't seem so bad. Amazing views from the top.

Banff, Lake Louise

Banff National Park has to be the busiest of all of the areas. Fortunately it doesn't take much to deter the hordes of tourists and you can quickly find yourself in quiet beautiful areas.
Healy pass
Healy Pass
Some summers they run a bus service from the Sunshine parking lot up to Sunshine Village. From there you can do a return hike to Healy Pass. The first part and Healy pass are good but we didn't care much for the rest. You get a great view down onto Egypt and Scarab lakes from the top of Healy pass.
Lake Louise Valley
Lake Louise Valley
It's a nice short, easy hike to the end of the Lake Louise valley. You can go all the way past the tea hut to just below Abbot's Pass.
View towards Banff from Saddle Mountain
Saddleback Ridge
Another short, easy hike. Can be more difficult earlier in the season due to snow. Saddle Mountain has some great views from the top. If you have the time and the energy, Fairview Mountain is a must (see next).
Lake Louise
from Fairview Peak
Mount Fairview
This is an easy (non technical) hike to get an amazing view. Start from the Lake Louise parking lot and head up to Saddleback Ridge. From there follow the cairns off to the right for the trail up Fairview. It was raining/snowing when we did it so we couldn't see a lot except for a couple of times when the snow/rain stopped. It was still a blast though. Weather like that reinforces the need for good clothing. Even on a short hike in the mountains, if the weather in the parking lot is beautiful it could be blizzarding an hour later. We passed lots of people in cotton jackets and jeans who were soaked, cold and not having fun.
Ten Peaks from Larch valley
Sentinel Pass
There's some spectacular scenery at the end of the Larch Valley/Sentinel pass trail from Morraine lake. Depending on how early in the year you do this you might have to slog through snow to make the pass. The good part though is that you get to glissade down on your bum. Watch out for bears, there's some aggressive ones in this area which means you aren't allowed to do the trail unless you are in a group of 6-8 or more. Check ahead of time to see what the rules are. If you don't have enough people wait at the trailhead to join up with others. If you can, try to time it so you see Larch valley in the fall for the amazing colours.

Kootenay

Kootenay National Park is accessed via the Radium road between Sunshine and Lake Louise. It's one of the quieter parkss but has some great trails and campgrounds.

Paul approaching Stanley glacier
Stanley Glacier
Stanley Glacier is near the East end of Kootenay. A great short hike with some amazing rockwall and glacier views.

Yoho

Yoho National Park is probably our favourite area in the Canadian Rockies. It starts just after you leave Lake Louise and includes Lake Ohara, Yoho Valley and Emerald Lake areas. It's also the home of the spectacular Takakkaw Falls.

Paul and Helen at Iceline tarn
Iceline Trail
This is one of our favourite trails. Start at the youth hostel near Takakkaw Falls. Half an hour later your above the treeline looking down at the huge Falls. The hard work is mostly done as you follow the glaciers along the trail crossing numerous streams. Don't worry about packing in all of your own water, just bring a filter and your set. You have th eoption to come down either into Little Yoho valley or into the main valley. We usually prefer the extra stroll into Little Yoho. This is about a 25km hike but well worth it.
Paul and Helen on the Whaleback
Iceline To Little Yoho to Whaleback Backpack
Backpacking the Iceline Trail to Little Yoho Valley has to be one of the best backcountry trips in Canada. Once you get to Little Yoho it makes for a great basecamp for dayhikes. A young grizzly waltzed by us within 20 metres as we were eating lunch on the way in. I was taking care of business in the bushes when it came onto the trail. I heard Helen shouting only to run over and see the bear ambling off down the trail. Pretty spooky!
Lake Oesa
Lake Ohara Circuit
Lake Ohara is a beautiful place and quiter than normal due to the lack of road access. You can either hike in or take the quota'd school bus run by the park. Once you get there you can stay at the campsite, lodge or ACC Hut. There are tons of trails but the best has to be the circuit that starts at the lake, slogs up to Wiwaxy gap, down to Lake Oesa, around the Yukness ledges, over to All Souls and then back down to the lake. Its an all day hike but the awesome scenery pulls you along and you don't notice how tired you are. This is tied for our favourite with the Iceline trail. The one year we were camping at the Ohara campsite when a thunderstorm rolled through. I can't imagine another audio experience that could come close to this. Laying in your tent in the dark as the thunder rolls around the Ohara bowl. Strikes were every couple of seconds and their echoes made them merge into one continuous cacophony of sound. Spectactular!!
Paul and Helen at Macarthur Lake
Macarthur Lake in Fall
Lake Macarthur is a beautiful place only 45 minutes away from Lake Ohara. It's a BIG lake that has spectacular glacier fed colour. If you do it in the fall you get the added bonus of the golden larches.
Lake Ohara
ACC hut in winter
Lake Ohara in Winter
This is a bit of a slog on skis up the access road from the parking lot next to the Trans Canada between Louise and Field. Once you get up there though the scenery is spectacular. Try and get on the lower bunk in the lodge as it can be like a sauna up top. Earplugs are a must for the hut if you are a light sleeper.
Emeral Lake mountains
Emerald Lake to Burgess Pass
This circuit makes for a long day. Start at Emerald Lake and head up to Yoho pass. At the top of the pass, a 15 minute detour takes you to Yoho Lake where you can have a lunchbreak. From there continue on around to Burgess pass. This takes you through the Burgess shale. Keep your eyes peeled on the rocks when you aren't admiring the views and you are bound to see some of the fossils the Shale is famous for. The final leg is pretty boring through the trees. If we were to do it again, I'd go back down the way we came to enjoy the great views from another angle.

Jasper

Jasper National Park is the furthest park from Calgary. We've only done the one trail up here but plan to do more. Mount Robson is definitely on the list.

View of Columbia 
Icefeilds from Wilcox Pass
Wilcox Pass
This is a bit of a drive down the Icefields Parkway. Well worth it though for the amazing views. Make sure you take a jacket as the breeze comes right off the Columbia Icefileds and can be damn cold even on a sunny day in August.

Guidebooks

Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies One of the hardest parts of hiking in these mountains is deciding which of the myriad trails you should do. A really good trail guide we use is "Don't waste your time in the Canadian Rockies". It excels at rating trails relative to each other. You'll find lot's more trails described in the bigger guides but this books helps you pick out which are the better ones that you should do before the others.
Scrambling in the Canadian Rockies "Scrambles In The Canadian Rockies" is another great guidebook that details the more technical hiking in our neighbourhood. The author gives great descriptions and gives you a good sense of how difficult the scramble is.

Equipment

The stuff you carry with you in the mountains can be the difference between a fantastic trip and having a soggy, cold experience. If your on a backpack trip or long hike miles from civilization it can be even more serious. Whatever you do, don't count on the weather to do one thing or another. Let the weather forecast give you an idea but accept the fact that the weather can change extremely quickly in the mountains (in either direction). Even if the sun is baking the pavement in the parking lot, don't let that stop you from taking a jacket. Avoid cotton clothing at all costs, synthetics are the way to go. They wick the moisture away from your body and dry extremely fast. It's also better to have multiple light layers than one heavy one.

These two pictures were taken within an hour of each other. Its snowing on the left and gorgeous t-shirt weather on the right:
Bad weather on the way up to sentinel Great weather coming down from Sentinel Pass


We've lost track of the number of times we've met people on the trail miles from anywhere and they are dressed in jeans and a cotton or denim shirt with no packs holding other clothing to be seen. Its been our experience that there is a direct relationship between the quality and performance of equipment and it's price. I highly recommend researching all of your equipment and if possible spend a little more, because in the end you'll save money.
Mountain Equoipment Co-op Most of our purchases were made at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Calgary (MEC). This is a co-op chain with great service, prices and warranties. If your not in Canada, they also do mail and internet ordering.
Arcteryx Bora 65 For backpacks we use Arcteryx Bora 65 packs(65L). This pack has a seperate compartment in the bottom for sleeping bag and /or tent which we find to be useful. The top lid also detaches to become a fanny pack or waist pouch. When we are day hiking our lids hold the camera, binoculars, water bladders, filter, food, first aid kit, and when not in use we strap our GorTex jackets and hiking poles to the outside. This works well as we don't get sweaty backs from carrying a small backpack. The side pockets are elasticized and are great for holding tent poles, hiking poles, water bottles, or even snorkeling fins. The long, zippered front pouch works well for holding wet stuff and has a drain hole at the bottom. I also tried the Bora 95 and 80 but found them to be too big for our needs. The Bora 65 has all of the features in the smallest/lightest package. If you pack smartly you should have no problem fitting enough stuff for a four day backpacking trip. This assumes two person hiking were you can share stuff. If you hike solo then a bigger pack may be needed. A couple of MEC pack covers keep things dry in the rain. Our packs are well used and have been around the world with us and have given us zero problems. Well done Arcteryx! Be aware that the hip belts come in mens and womens so make sure you get it fitted properly (like at MEC).
Arcteryx Theta AR Jacket We've found that good clothing can make or break a camping/hiking/skiing trip. The layering system works well when you use the right materials. For the base, a good set of wicking polyester or polypropylene underwear or sports shirt. For the middle insulating layer, fleece works well. For sitting around, Polartec 200 or 300, or for working hard Polartec 100. For the outer shell we both have 3 Ply GoreTex XCR jackets. Paul has the Arc'Teryx Theta AR while Helen has a Mountain Hardwear Ethereal FTX. These are light, waterproof, windproof, breathable and you guessed it, expensive. However they are good for all year round, and are just as usable in the city as out on the trails. You'll appreciate them when you are out in bad weather and they are keeping you dry. We also both have Mec Windstopper fleece jackets that are light and keep out the wind.
UltraLite Thermarest Mattress For sleeping, our two Therm-A-Rest Ultra-Lite mattreses fit perfectly in the tent with lots of room on either side for equipment. These mattreses are fantastic! Their small size, light weight and comfort factor are worth the price.
MEC Swift Sleeping Bag For bags we use MEC Swift, 575 down fill, mummy bags rated to 1

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