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Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Hey all, I'm Picnic Princess and I'm the resident Canadian Rockies expert. I can't commit myself to the "hiking buddies" list because my life is pretty insane right now, but I'll be happy to answer questions.

I'm working on a guide to understanding the Rocky Mountains Parks system, because it can be pretty confusing. I'll post it when it's complete.

I hope more people will visit this place and support our parks, because right now our government doesn't and it's a loving horrible shame.







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Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Shrinking Universe posted:


I am in constant awe of Picnic Princess's photos, you are in possibly the greatest place in the world for hiking. I was fortunate enough to do a bit of it when I was working in Banff (me and half my countrymen), and I deeply regret not doing more. I will get back there though.

The reason I wrote "mountains" is that compared to basically the rest of the world, ours are a little short, our tallest is 2,228m (7309 feet), and used to have a road going more or less right to the top. It is a gentle, undulating mountain. We have some more rugged ones, and we do get snow. I am hoping to do some snow-shoeing and camping next winter.

Any questions about Australia, ask away!

Ah yes, the Australian worker horde! I can't speak for everyone here, but a lot of us love you guys because you've got the same laid back attitude as us but your accent is much better. We just sound like a bunch of hosers, eh?

A couple years back I rented a boat on Lake Minnewanka for my husband's birthday with his brother, and all day were cracking jokes about the hot Australian at the boat house. Well, we ended up running out of gas in the middle of the lake and he came to rescue us.



I'll be headed to Australia myself next June, but might not get too much hiking outside of the Daintree Rainforest. Mt. Sorrow looks seriously enticing. It's been an interesting experience planning out this trip. I've never been overseas, and I've never traveled abroad alone. Going for a major, life-changing experience I guess! And that's just a fraction of what I've got lined up. I'll be heading to Australia and New Zealand after I finish a 3 week field school in Thailand, Borneo, and Bali with a group of 17 other students.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I finally confessed to my mom just how bad my scrambling accident was last year.

She cried pretty hard, and is terrified of me heading out ever again. I assured her I changed my technique and am much more careful than I had been in the past. I won't make the same mistake ever again.

Ugh. Feeling kind of lovely about it. I'm not stopping entirely though. I just love it so much. I probably won't have a chance to go out until the spring anyway, so by then she'll have calmed down a bit. It's a good thing I didn't ask for any gear for Christmas.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




How "wild" are the bison there? They're completely extirpated up here, although they're farmed for meat and tourism. There are plans to try and re-establish a wild population in Banff National Park though!

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Calgary goon here. You're best bet for Banff is July and August. The past few years, there were still avalanches in June and I was caught in a blizzard 30km from my car September 1.

I am still working on my Canadian Rockies Mountain Parks guide, I promise! My life is just kind of nuts right now. You will need a National Parks pass for every day you're in the park, as well as a back country reservation fee for overnight back country camping, and possibly a campfire fee if fires are permitted at the particular site. It covers the cost of firewood, which you can take at your leisure. I rarely end up at sites with that, however. There's not very many.

Travelling by water is actually pretty difficult. There are only a couple of large rivers that aren't high class whitewater rapids rushing down rocky gullies, and even then you're going to encounter lots of waterfalls, and sometimes dams. A lot of the large lakes like Minnewanka or Spray Lakes are actually man-made reservoirs. I'm not super-familiar with paddling routes beyond day trips here, but I would imagine you'd spend as much time (or more) portaging. Plus big rivers tend to have roads running parallel to them for large sections, like the Bow and Highway 1.

There are a ton of multi-day back country trips you can do. The Great Divide Trail passes right through the park, and I've spent some time on a couple of sections. Amazing trail.

There's an excellent PDF file of a pamphlet of official back country trails and campsites in the park at the bottom of this page. http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ33/aa.aspx Some routes even head to alpine huts, which are awesome places to stay. You often have to book those ahead of time though, since space is incredibly limited and many mountaineers use them as basecamps.

As for the hotel and day hike option, that's perfectly feasible too. There are tons of official trails of all levels. The "hardest" official day hike is the summit of Mt. Fairview. It's an easy scramble. I've done it early July and there was still a lot of snow on the trail, and we were snowed on while on the summit.

There's also loads of unofficial trails tended to by volunteers. Many of them are actually wildlife trails that people just keep free of deadfall and other debris. Some go to summits, some don't. There's tons of guidebooks available. Some good ones are: Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, and Where the Locals Hike.

For websites, I like a few as well that I use to get ideas, and make suggestions for friends:

http://hikingwithbarry.com/

http://hikealberta.com/hike

http://www.clubtread.com/Routes/ByRegion.aspx?Region=13

Before heading out, always check trail reports! There are often closures and warnings in all areas of all the parks any time of the year. These are mostly due to wildlife concerns, like bears or cougars in the area, or particular breeding seasons. Many trails are closed in May and June to give Bighorn sheep, elk, or caribou peace and quite during calving season.

Any other questions, just ask! I'm in school to become a guide or start an adventure business out here, so I'm happy to answer what I know, or research what I don't know yet!

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I made it out yesterday, had some fun on a lazy trail (for me), helping my friend lose weight.



Really beautiful day, and relatively warm for a Canadian January.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I finally finished my slide-show with some footage of my hike in Waterton National Park right on the American border last July. I would have liked to make something better but I was pressed for time, so stopping and filming regularly would've extended the trip too long. All the photos and video are in chronological order to give a good sense of what the trip is like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGO43qY-gdQ

I found this map online that shows the trail, plus I added the summit of Mt. Carthew in as well. Gorgeous area, and a perfect day!

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




BeefofAges posted:

If you're having trouble sleeping, you haven't hiked enough. Tire yourself out to the point where you sleep like a rock.

True. The only time I've had trouble sleeping was when I was on my first solo trip and I only hiked 4km instead of the normal 10-20. That was a fitful night.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Has anyone hiked the Skyline Circuit in Akaroa, New Zealand? It looks pretty nice. I'll be there in June, totally going to do it. 800 meter elevation is a good height too. I didn't want to do anything too small. That's the same height as the easy mountains around here.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Okay, so as promised, I wrote up a guide to the Canadian Rockies Parks system. Except it's not quite complete and I haven't compiled links yet. But I figured I should get something posted since I promised to do it months ago. I'll keep working on it, touching it up, and get some links. Hopefully it works, I've never used Google docs before.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6Ko1nYC9e1fd2JCRS0wT3pwYlE/edit?usp=sharing

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Time Cowboy posted:

What foods do you all like to bring on long dayhikes? I'm always in sore need of an energy boost after a big hill or the first 6-7 miles, but I can't seem to find any snacks or lunches that do the trick. (Mostly because I'm so out of shape.) Anything that I can eat cold, or cook up the night before, and packs a lot of calories -- that's what I want.

I'm not fancy in the slightest. Trail mix with peanuts, raisins, almonds, cashews, and smarties, along with a cheesebun or pizzabun or bagel, and usually a fancy muffin or two. I'm also terrible and bring a coffee-based energy drink as a treat on the summit.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I had to look those up, because I didn't realize American Smarties were different. Here in Canada we call that type of candy "Rockets". Which is clearly a superior name.

Besides, Smarties are "smart" because they melt in your mouth and not in your hand!

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Mmmm, I sometimes go with Reese's Pieces too. Most store-bought mixes also have various freeze-dried fruit in them which I can't stand. Doesn't help that most fruit gives me awful stomach cramps. My husband still buys me an apple whenever we go out even though I always refuse to eat it. I think he hopes I'll cave because it'll give me a good energy boost, but I just can't eat them.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Well, my overseas trips have all been booked, and it looks like I'll be hiking Mt. Batur in Bali to watch the sunrise, Queenstown Hill in NZ in winter, multiple trails around Franz Josef and Milford Sound in NZ, and a bunch of others too, like rainforest trails in Borneo and Australia. Come July/August, I should have some awesome poo poo to post. In the meantime, I haven't even left the city for god knows how long. There's an outdoor adventure and gear show here this weekend. I think I'll go there Sunday.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Agreeing 100%! When I went out by myself for the first time ever in the blizzard last October I had the time of my life, even though I was afraid of bears and missed out on getting photos of the aurora, which was supposed to be intense that night. I couldn't sleep and had a hell of a time starting a fire, but it was so worth it. The next morning was loving gorgeous.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Oh Dear God. A winter of not having a chance to get out has left me so out of shape. I pulled out my bike and tried to bike to university, and could only make it half way. Granted I attempted a 22 mile round trip, but I did it a bunch of times lest fall, after a summer hiking. My legs are like jello. So shameful.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Between this thread and using GPS devices in my GIS/remote sensing class, I finally decided to get one of my own. Especially for my upcoming trip. Luckily for me, the government of New Zealand decided that free, fully geo-referenced topographical maps for their country is a human right or something. So I'm getting a bunch of those for my planned hikes around Akaroa and Franz Josef.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Not that it helps the person in question really, but if you're Canadian, MEC has their own line of wicking and/or synthetic clothes that are miles cheaper than namebrand. Most of mine are by them and instead of $50 to $150 for a shirt it's usually $12-$20. Sometimes I'll treat myself to an expensive shirt, but it'll be because I think the design is fantastic and it looks drat good. Since I'm a vain, superficial girl and all :bigtran:

As for flying with my pack, I was just planning on wrapping it at one of those wrapping stations. I'm going to be living out of the thing for two months, so having it damaged or something would loving suck.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




My personal rule is always bring at least 2 liters per day, sometimes 3 if it's supposed to be hot. Doesn't matter if it's a day hike or a multi-day backpack, I make myself drink that minimum amount whether I feel I need it or not. Eating enough calories, however, is a different story for me. I never get enough.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Yeah, I usually bring a few 1 liter bottles so I can dissolve tablets in one or two while having a third to drink from. The water where I hike is barely above freezing, so it can take up to two hours for the water to be treated thoroughly.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




loving hell, you guys, hiking in Borneo is brutal. I'll get some pics up later.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Sorry or lack of photos, guys, but internet is pretty sporadic here. I've also been busy as all hell with this field school. I'm just finishing in Bali now after 3 weeks of work, and wrote my finals this morning. We hiked up Mt. Batur to watch the sunrise yesterday. I managed to upload a whopping two photos from that so far:





Business of Ferrets posted:

Aren't you the one who somehow lacks the ability to regulate heat? That sounds like a nightmare in Borneo's climate.

Something really interesting happened here. I learned to sweat. And boy, did I ever loving sweat. I was pouring buckets constantly. I got so much sunscreen, bug spray, and salt in my eyes that half the time I was finding it hard to see where I was going.

Except on Mt. Batur. It was cold enough to see your breath, lots of people were bundled up, and I went right back to not sweating, red faced, horribly overheating. I just about stripped down to my bikini top and shorts on the ascent, and it was pretty cold. I think my body gets confused in cooler climates and refuses to regulate heat. I've been doing pretty okay here for the most part, because the humidity and heat is a different kind of overheating discomfort. It feels more normal.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Ah, entry level cheap tents. I remember those days. $40 at Canadian Tire, 2 person tent for car camping was our first. We're not that tall, 5'7 and 6', and our heads and feet touched both ends with no room to curl up sideways. It poured all night, and with the lovely waterproofing, meant our heads and feet were drenched instantly.

Anyway, I said I'd post some Borneo photos, and while they kind of suck because we were constantly moving, here are a few. These were from a couple of short hikes we did May 14 in Bako National Park, in the Malaysian province of Sarawak.

One of the signs at the visitor's centre:

Borneo: Serious business by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

On the trail:

Bako NP Trail by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

On the summit, very hot, black rock, like being on a frying pan:

Sweltering summit by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

Plants:

Borneo flora by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

Tide pools:

Tide pools at low tide by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

Then some of us found some "caves" (gaps between large boulders):

Caves by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

And of course, a macaque, because you can't go to Borneo without seeing primates:

Macaque by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

It was 33 or 34C that day, with more than 90% humidity. Even the breeze was hot. You just constantly pour sweat. I never knew my legs and eyelids could sweat before.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I couldn't imagine going anywhere without my D7000. My weight priorities are: 1. Water 2. Food 3.Camera 4. Everything else.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




On a lot of the overnight trails here, dogs are banned because of the large fauna we have. There's been serious trouble with people bringing a dog into grizzly, wolf, cougar, elk, or moose territory. They tend to go into instant aggression mode, since a dog isn't any different than another wolf to them.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




This thread is the first place I've ever heard of bear cans. They're not a thing here at all. Almost all backcountry campsites here have permanent bearbins, or lockers, installed by the Parks. Hanging your bag if there's a bearbin available is illegal. If there is no bearbin, then you can hang your stuff. But that's pretty rare, and I think is found only in really deep, deep backcountry areas. These are areas that maybe see one or two groups per year, if any at all, so tree damage is considered negligible.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Well, Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country have effectively been destroyed this past couple of days. There's been massive flooding in the valleys, as well as watersheds east of the mountains that is still ongoing. The city of Calgary had serious floods in the downtown region and many low-lying neighbourhoods.

Right now the two major towns in the mountains, Canmore and Banff, are having major water supply issues or power outages. The trails and campgrounds throughout the mountain valleys appear to all have been washed away, and it looks like a lot of scrambling access routes are gone.

It's only been a couple of days, so damage assessments are just starting to come in as the water begins to recede.

When I finally get home from New Zealand, which has been having it's own weather problems, it looks like I won't be doing much in terms of hiking this summer! I may find a way to volunteer on clean-up and rebuilding if they still need help.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




That would kill me. I can barely handle dry and 70 without feeling like I'm going to die.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




So remember how I was talking about how I was going to hike here and there and everywhere while I was away from home? I'm back home now, and while I didn't manage to do all of the hiking I wanted to thanks to ridiculous Antarctic storms out of no where, I did some stuff, as well as some other neat stuff. Here's a video I put together of a bunch of things I saw; I plan on making more specific videos in the future. The sunrise on Mt. Batur in Bali is definitely one of the biggest highlights of the whole trip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dkc6giHyQU

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Oh, the load of photos made me happy. My favourite places are still mostly closed off due to the flooding damage so I haven't been going out this summer.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Demon_Corsair posted:

Can you recommend some good beginner hikes around Calgary that aren't still closed?

In all honesty, I can't really until I get out myself. As far as I can tell, west of Banff didn't get hit by the storms at all because they formed over the continental divide then headed east, and places along Highway 742/Smith-Dorrien Trial are all headwaters so they weren't really damaged. I haven't heard much about the Foothills at all, but things look grim because it's all low lying floodplains in between rolling hills.

For reference, right now only one back country campground is open in all of Kananaskis, which kind of sucks because I have a friend who is supposed to go on her first backpacking trip with me in a couple weeks and all of our beginner's options are screwed right now.

If you want to do an easy summit, it looks like Ha Ling Peak is clear and accessible. It's many scramblers' first summit. No hands on work, just a minor steep trail for 2-4 hours, then back down. I think the elevation gain is about 700m. I usually do that one as a sunset summit then hike down in the dark. Last time I was up there we brought a bottle of champagne, it's that easy. Otherwise, head towards the Lake Louise area. There's tons of easy hikes that are all official trails maintained by the government. Fairview Lookout, Saddleback, Plain of 6 Glaciers Teahouse, or Lake Agnes Teahouse are my favourites for easy beginner hikes. I'm pretty sure if you go to both teahouses you can get a certificate for completing the "Teahouse Challenge". For a step up, head to the summit of Mt. Fairview. It's the highest elevation official trail in Canada, and my first summit. You could also do the summit of Mt. St. Piran, which is also just a steep hike, but the trail is unofficial, so maybe get some experience before heading up there.

Edit: Yeah, they do reward you if you make a circuit of the two teahouses. I haven't done it myself. I had ulterior motives while passing the teahouses all the times I've been there. Anyway, here's a cheesy video for inspiration!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr0fVeMa4yg

Edit 2: That is Big Beehive, not Little Beehive he's looking at at Mirror Lake. Just figured I'd point that out. Both are good hikes but totally different if you're looking at additional side trails.

Picnic Princess fucked around with this message at 15:15 on Jul 18, 2013

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I was just telling that goon to do trails in the Lake Louise area, figured I would mention that a cougar has been spotted following people along the north lake shore so an official warning is now in place. Make sure you're educated on safety and encounters before you go. While the area is popular, it's not unreasonable to be temporarily alone every now and then.

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/natcul/animaux-animals/couguar-cougar.aspx

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Maps rule. I have stacks and stacks of maps that I always study before I do anything new. I like to be able to name mountains as we go. Sometimes I go onto a government site and check out the geology maps to see if I'm getting into any interesting rocks or fossil-heavy beds, and also so I can tell my buddies on the trail: "This shale is approximately 70 million years old. Isn't that loving cool?".

I also just completed my minor in geography, which should tell you: I loving LOVE maps!

On a side note, my friend has now decided she wants me to take her backpacking in Waterton/Glacier. There's a really high chance we're going to see some bears. I hope we do, even though she is super afraid of bears. But then she'll get to learn that black bears are no scarier than a big dog, really.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I came face to face with a black bear hiking alone and wasn't scared. Even when it approached me, I just sternly told it get back; it stopped advancing and went back to eating berries. I went camping alone in grizzly country at the end of berry season. It was a major wildlife corridor with cougar stalking and attacks in the past. I didn't really sleep that night. still glad I went, it was beautiful, as well as completely peaceful and serene since a blizzard tore through the area that day and there was no one else around. But all the clumps of snow falling out of the trees sounded like footprints.

Hopefully with more solo experience I'll just get used to it.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die





Very few things warm my heart more than a well-worn, well-loved pair of hiking boots.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I got this posted on my Facebook page, even though I'm nowhere near that area. Maybe someone here is and could lend a helping hand.

https://www.facebook.com/findmattgreene

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




I'm jealous of all you southerners who can claim mountains that high and so easily because of your climate. All the peaks over 11,000' up here are glaciated craggy horns of death. Highest I've been was somewhere around 9,600'. Don't know for sure because we went off route and hit an impassable vertical wall on a knife-edge ridge not far from the summit at 10,200'. Thanks, vertically tilted strata!

Actually, a lot of that trip sucked. Scrambled up some of the worst shale I've ever experienced. You could pick up whole plates the size of your torso and break them in half with your hands. Stained them red too. Not that it wasn't a nice place, it was very beautiful.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Wow, it looks like some hikers found skeletal human remains in Banff National Park yesterday. This will be interesting to follow.

And speaking of remains, I went on a 1 km hike with a friend yesterday near Canmore and brought back half a grocery bag of garbage with me. God I hate people sometimes.

Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die




Hey, so I don't think it's unreasonable that a lot of you would be opposed to local culture, considering that it kind of goes in tandem with environmental issues that affect you and your hobby? Anyway, if there's any forum community that would appreciate a bunch of Canadians dancing in the streets of Kuching, Malaysian Borneo, with a bunch of local performers, it would be you. It may not be hiking, but I think a lot of hikers would love this kind of thing because we have a standard not commonly found. That being said, I really really want to go back to Borneo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPrOqE2nxsE

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Picnic Princess
Feb 9, 2008

I was under direct orders not to die







Back in the Rockies! by Trips in the Rockies, on Flickr

I finally made it back out where I belong! And man, am I out of shape. I haven't done any real hiking since Mt. Batur in Bali back in May, and I really felt it today. Only made it up about 500-550m vertical, but whatever. I live in the goddamn Canadian Rockies so even failed summits and goals still pay off.

I bet if I had given myself an entire day rather than starting at 3 p.m., I could have completed this particular goal.

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