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WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Welcome to the Western Canada thread! I know there are quite a few canuck goons on here who probably like to go outside. Use this thread to post pictures, trip reports, ask questions about where to go and where to buy gear now that MEC is awful.

My loose hope for the OP is that we can get a bunch of goon-favourite trips and spots listed that are a bit off the beaten path or interesting for other reasons. I'll organize them here by region/activity and we can have a little compendium of our own. Depending on interest levels we may want to make this a generic Canada thread, I made it AB/BC specific because that's the area I'm most familiar with even though I grew up in the GTA.

Hikes/Backpacking
For finding hikes, AllTrails is a good resource generally, as are the Backroads Mapbooks series. For Canmore/Banff area the five-volume Kananaskis Country Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern is excellent. The best topo maps are the Gem-Trek series if they have coverage for the area you're planning to go.

Grassi Knob, Canmore AB

This is one of my favourites because even in the height of tourist season you can expect almost no traffic. Views are just as good as nearby Ha Ling Peak and EEOR but with less than a tenth the traffic. Be prepared for an absolute grind though, it's ~750m of elevation gain over ~3km and the trail is very rough in spots. You do get an extremely unique view of the Three Sisters however, and during the spring you can see lots of small avalanches coming off of Ship's Prow.

Black Rock Mountain, Ghost PLUZ AB

Another favourite because of how un-busy it is. If you have a high clearance 4x4 to get right to the trailhead, this isn't a particularly long hike to an old fire lookout tower on the top. On a clear day, you can see downtown Calgary looking East from above the treeline. Expect lots of scree and a few sketchy sections here and there but no real scrambling. There is an excellent tenting site at the bottom and another about midway if you want to do it as an overnighter. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of drunk morons in the valley shooting guns into the evening (it's not really as bad as all that though).

Elbow Pass/Rae Lake, Elbow Sheep WPP AB

This is one of the best random camping spots if you can't get a reservation for when you want to go. The trailhead and main trail get quite busy on weekends, but Rae Lake itself is quite easy to find a good spot. Keep right as you head towards the lake and there's a nice spot with some benches and a fire pit hidden away in the trees on the far side. A great place to do some day hikes in Elbow-Sheep if you're so inclined.

Car Camping
Again here the Backroads Mapbooks are your friend for finding sites. In Alberta, your best bet is along Hwy 40/Forestry Trunk Road. Popular spots include the Ghost PLUZ, Dutch Creek, and Ya Ha Tinda. To find sites in BC, check out Sites and Trails BC

Ghost PLUZ AB

A few gorgeous campsites to be found here. Gets really busy on weekends but if you have a 4x4 it's easy enough to get away from the crowds of people along the main road. Follow the Trans-Alta Road down into the valley and drive around until you find something you like the look of. Great ice climbing here past December 1st as well when another section of the road opens up.

Albert-Palliser Rec Site, Invermere BC

Good to great gravel road into this one, easily doable in any car. When you get there follow the road around to the left all the way to the last campsite. Huge site with good shade, and your own private beach. Probably the best car camping site I've ever been on.

Racehorse Pass, AB/BC

This whole area has loads of gorgeous spots, but I really like the higher up exposed sites if you can shelter behind a vehicle. Views for days, and the roads up are not too bad if you have truck/SUV with decent clearance. Regular vehicles are able to camp further down in the valley no problem.

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Coxswain Balls
Jun 3, 2001



College Slice

Can we talk about how MEC turned into the mess it is today? I used to love going there all the time ten years ago but now it's just depressing and overpriced.

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Coxswain Balls posted:

Can we talk about how MEC turned into the mess it is today? I used to love going there all the time ten years ago but now it's just depressing and overpriced.

No idea how it happened, although a lot of people put the blame squarely at the feet of the current CEO. It is absolutely infuriating though, 9/10 times when I google "<piece of gear> canada" MEC is at the top of the search results and when I click through it just says "this item is no longer available". They seem to have really cut down on the actual useful gear they sell and mostly just stock clothes and athleisure wear now.

I've had a decent amount of success with Valhalla Pure Outfitters but they aren't perfect either. Atmosphere has poo poo all of actually quality stuff, and SAIL is going through bankruptcy. It seems like there really is a gap in the market that MEC used to fill, and I'm hoping some new shop will open up to fill it.

Coxswain Balls
Jun 3, 2001



College Slice

Whenever elections came up and I went through the candidates it seemed like it's been retired CEOs wanting to run the place like their previous businesses, or at least that was the feeling I got. Now it's all "lifestyle" stuff and super-expensive brands in an attempt to expand their customer base instead of the excellent cost to quality ratio gear they were known for in the past. All of my important equipment like shelter and packs are from MEC, but they haven't had anything I've needed or could afford for years.

Wilderness Supply has stayed good and I found myself going there more often since MEC started getting bad. I haven't been there since they moved to a larger location downtown, and I'd imagine that's probably helped with their selection.

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


I hadn't heard of Wilderness Supply, thanks! I also like to check geartrade.ca once in a while. It's just a single guy out in Okotoks and he seems to get a bunch of last run/overstock gear which he sells pretty cheaply. I got a really good deal on my sleeping pad from him.

spwrozek
Sep 4, 2006

Sail when it's windy



The trip report thread I posted is a big trip in BC. I do love BC. Usually I am there at least once a year. Not sure that will happen in this winter.

xzzy
Mar 5, 2009

wakey wakey to
this bowl of tasty


Yams Fan

This American had his first real chance to visit the Canadian rockies last summer, family drove the alcan several times when I was growing up but we pretty much always blew through Canada trying to get to where we were going, so it was nice to actually be a tourist.

Came up through Montana at the Chief Mountain border crossing, cut west through Frank so I could go north on 40. It was June 20 when I entered, and it started snowing almost immediately. By the time I got to Highwood Pass there was 5 inches on the ground. Was even more snow on the other side and the road was littered with cyclists who had been caught out in it.

This was in the meadow below the Mt Engadine lodge that day:



Then the same meadow a week later:



My highlight hike was going to be hiking back to Smutwood and photographing Birdwood, but I had packed for summer with a chance for cold, not slushy winter mess. So now I just gotta make it back there some times. Made it as far west as Glacier NP, loved the Illecillewaet campground. Also went up to Jasper and it's pretty but too many tour buses.

We did get into Assiniboine for two nights which was a super great treat.



Camping there and listening to avalanches was a new, neat experience. But the wife twisted up her knee so that put a halt on additional "serious" hikes. So we made do a "test the knee" hike to Chester Lake.



And had our anniversary at Emerald Lake (this is Emerald Basin).



I am craving a trip into BC, I've seen some photos out of Carmanah, Chilliwack and Chilcotin that makes them must visit spots. Well there's a lifetime of must visit spots out that way, but three is a good start.

HardDiskD
May 6, 2009





Grimey Drawer

I'm Brazilian but I went into the Canadian rockies in October 2017 with a tour company that did the whole lakes/Banff/Athabasca glacier thing and it already was pretty freaking awesome already. I wish I could go back to the PNW and camp in any of those locations.

HardDiskD fucked around with this message at 18:56 on Aug 10, 2020

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


xzzy posted:

This American had his first real chance to visit the Canadian rockies last summer, family drove the alcan several times when I was growing up but we pretty much always blew through Canada trying to get to where we were going, so it was nice to actually be a tourist.

Came up through Montana at the Chief Mountain border crossing, cut west through Frank so I could go north on 40. It was June 20 when I entered, and it started snowing almost immediately. By the time I got to Highwood Pass there was 5 inches on the ground. Was even more snow on the other side and the road was littered with cyclists who had been caught out in it.

This was in the meadow below the Mt Engadine lodge that day:



Then the same meadow a week later:



My highlight hike was going to be hiking back to Smutwood and photographing Birdwood, but I had packed for summer with a chance for cold, not slushy winter mess. So now I just gotta make it back there some times. Made it as far west as Glacier NP, loved the Illecillewaet campground. Also went up to Jasper and it's pretty but too many tour buses.

We did get into Assiniboine for two nights which was a super great treat.



Camping there and listening to avalanches was a new, neat experience. But the wife twisted up her knee so that put a halt on additional "serious" hikes. So we made do a "test the knee" hike to Chester Lake.



And had our anniversary at Emerald Lake (this is Emerald Basin).



I am craving a trip into BC, I've seen some photos out of Carmanah, Chilliwack and Chilcotin that makes them must visit spots. Well there's a lifetime of must visit spots out that way, but three is a good start.

Stunning shots! There really is an endless amount to see out here, it seems like you could spend a lifetime exploring just a couple hours either direction from Banff and not run out of new things to find.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Just had a picnic lunch in Kootenay NP, but were good Albertans and didn't stray into Radium like we normally would. Had really excellent weather

But holy lol are the park ups at the trailheads out of control. Stanley Glacier was up and down the road despite notices not to park on the road

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Bilirubin posted:

Just had a picnic lunch in Kootenay NP, but were good Albertans and didn't stray into Radium like we normally would. Had really excellent weather

But holy lol are the park ups at the trailheads out of control. Stanley Glacier was up and down the road despite notices not to park on the road

Yeah itís bonkers, apparently Banff and Canmore are both seeing absolutely record numbers of visitors even though foreign travel is cut off.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Heading out CMC Valley tomorrow, will try to take pictures this time

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

Bilirubin posted:

Heading out CMC Valley tomorrow, will try to take pictures this time

View to the north

and south

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Bilirubin posted:

View to the north

and south


Looks really good! Iíll have to check it out, I havenít been out there.

Bi-la kaifa
Feb 4, 2011

Space maggots.



Eastern BC is a treasure trove of good hiking and amazing landscapes. Last year I hiked through Monashee provincial park and it was full of great big granite faces and blooming meadows of wildflowers. This year we went south to the Kootenay region and farted around Grand Forks. I never really realized before the sheer amount of space there is out there, and what could be done with it if it all wasn't privately owned or crown lands. If I could still rock climb I'd be tempted to promote it as an untapped climbing mecca, because holy poo poo there's a lot of rocks there. Like a lot.

Next year we're planning on hiking through the Purcell wilderness and I have high hopes that it'll be amazing. If it's not we'll hit a hot spring on the way home and cry about it.

spwrozek
Sep 4, 2006

Sail when it's windy



Bi-la kaifa posted:

Eastern BC is a treasure trove of good hiking and amazing landscapes. Last year I hiked through Monashee provincial park and it was full of great big granite faces and blooming meadows of wildflowers. This year we went south to the Kootenay region and farted around Grand Forks. I never really realized before the sheer amount of space there is out there, and what could be done with it if it all wasn't privately owned or crown lands. If I could still rock climb I'd be tempted to promote it as an untapped climbing mecca, because holy poo poo there's a lot of rocks there. Like a lot.

Next year we're planning on hiking through the Purcell wilderness and I have high hopes that it'll be amazing. If it's not we'll hit a hot spring on the way home and cry about it.

Don't worry that whole area is beautiful.

Oakland Martini
Feb 14, 2008
Refugee from the great account hijacking of 2008

[Cross posting from the Photo thread] Got sick of living in Toronto so I rented a condo in Canmore to work remotely. Good decision!

Spray lakes from below the Windtower


Pika near Grassi lakes


Helen Lake, Banff NP

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Oakland Martini posted:

[Cross posting from the Photo thread] Got sick of living in Toronto so I rented a condo in Canmore to work remotely. Good decision!

Spray lakes from below the Windtower


Pika near Grassi lakes


Helen Lake, Banff NP


Are you me? I did the exact same thing last October! Iíve also talked another coworker of mine into doing the same, heís coming at the start of September.

Bilirubin
Feb 16, 2014

The sanctioned action is to CHUG!!!




Bleak Gremlin

xzzy posted:


And had our anniversary at Emerald Lake (this is Emerald Basin).



Just want to say how much I love Emerald Lake.

One time my wife and I stopped off and it was drizzling so we were able to get patio seats at the Cilantro for a glass or two of wine. It started raining and the place cleared out. Then it stopped and we had it all to ourselves. A bus of Chinese tourists arrived just as a loon started calling. Quintessential Canadian moment right there, with mists lightly rising off the still waters. Lovely.

Today we were out for a picnic at Kootenay NP; the view to the east:

WHERE MY HAT IS AT
Jan 7, 2011


Well, the Ghost is on fire so thatís a bummer. I wanted fewer campers in there, but not like this! Apparently originated at the base of black rock mountain somewhere, probably someone didnít put a campfire out properly.

Coxswain Balls
Jun 3, 2001



College Slice

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/bus...nvestment-firm/

And that's that.

quote:

The team also began reviewing MEC’s product assortment, with plans to scale back in areas where competition is stiff – such as pet accessories and yoga wear – while focusing on its core categories such as climbing, camping and snow sports.

You don't say.

Slung Blade
Jul 10, 2002

IN STEEL WE TRUST



There is no fuckin excuse to not make buckets of cash as an outdoor gear supplier this year.

People are fighting over every kind of half rear end decent camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing kit available.

That sucks to lose a sort-of co-op, but it sounds like the changes these private equity scumbags are making are positive at least?

Coxswain Balls
Jun 3, 2001



College Slice

Slung Blade posted:

There is no fuckin excuse to not make buckets of cash as an outdoor gear supplier this year.

People are fighting over every kind of half rear end decent camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing kit available.

That sucks to lose a sort-of co-op, but it sounds like the changes these private equity scumbags are making are positive at least?

Corporate scumbags are the ones that really started screwing things up in the quest for more profit. They changed the rules to stack elections in favour of professional executives in 2012, which lines up perfectly with when their quality was beginning to decline. I think that's also around when they started doing dumb stuff with their money like overpaying for their new HQ.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/rep...rticle26852082/
https://edmonton.citynews.ca/2020/0...ection-rigging/

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Kreez
Oct 18, 2003



Slung Blade posted:

There is no fuckin excuse to not make buckets of cash as an outdoor gear supplier this year.

People are fighting over every kind of half rear end decent camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing kit available.

That sucks to lose a sort-of co-op, but it sounds like the changes these private equity scumbags are making are positive at least?

It sounds like they were so short on cash they couldn't buy gear from anyone who wasn't willing to offer 90 day terms. If you're a gear manufacturer and you can't keep up with orders at all (which was everyone this summer) you're not going to short ship an order to a store that will pay you up front or at NET 30 and instead send it to someone who says they won't pay for 3 months (if they pay at all).

Unless the new owners are willing to close far more of the retail outlets than they are talking about, I don't see much changing from an outdoor enthusiast's point of view. There's no way you can pay the rent on shiny city centre stores without shuffling hundreds of customers through every hour. So maybe they will consolidate down to only one brand of yoga pants and a handful of rain coats, but the focus will still have to be on yoga pants and rain coats. They can't fill a 30,000ft store with just technical equipment (or even staff such a store with people knowledgeable about technical equipment) and make a profit so there isn't going to be a return to the model of 15 years ago.

Definitely still room for someone to step in and become the main online source for this stuff in Canada, maybe they'll figure that out.

Kreez fucked around with this message at 21:02 on Sep 16, 2020

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