Stambaugh likes to hike… and hump

By Matt Stambaugh

There are few physical activities as rewarding and accessible as hiking. You need little to no equipment for a basic hike, perhaps just a bottle of water and some decent shoes, and you can enjoy the world-famous wonders that beckon only 80 kilometers to the west.

All too often I meet Calgarians who have never explored the Rockies, associating the word “hiking” with Sir Edmund Hillary and scaling Mt. Everest. I implore you, pick up a copy of the Kananaskis or Banff National Park Hiking Guide and enjoy.

The first folly often made by the hiking layman is the assumption that the sport is only for those nutjobs who are obsessed with walking around in circles over great distances and obstacles. Although I am one of those nutjobs, there are many forms of hiking.

For instance, give yourself a goal. Take several friends, hike to a semi-secluded campsite, and then let loose on a cube of Wildcat Strong and feel Alberta in all her glory.

For the more adventurous–and those who hate walking down a mountain–go to Canmore, hike to the top of Lady MacDonald, then parasail off of the ledge for a completely exhilarating experience.

Even better, take that special someone on a hike to the edge of a glacial lake. Bring scented candles, massage oil, and some Barry White, then find some moss, and show those bloody animals how it’s done.

Now that we all agree hiking is a lot more versatile than we first assumed, where to go?

Kananaskis Country has some wonderful hikes, is usually a little less busy with spacey American tourists than the National Park system, and the trails along Highway 40 are well marked and maintained. Trails in other areas of K-Country have slightly less TLC but still provide great destinations.

Of course, Banff National Park is a staple area for tours. Lake Louise in particular is spectacular, with a variety of hikes in the area ranging from ludicrously long and difficult, to a pleasant stroll around Moraine Lake.

The Emerald Lake system near Field is gorgeous as well, just make sure you do not cross into the super secret Burgess Shale UNESCO site full of Trilobites. It is not all that well marked, yet monitored by surveillance cameras, and after Park’s sting operation on those Boy Scouts, we should all take them a little more seriously.

There are literally thousands of other hikes in the area that cannot be listed here; simply go to your local bookstore and pick up a hiking guide to view all of the spectacular hikes in our area.

So there it is, a wonderful weekend waiting for you just a stone’s throw away. Hiking is a spectacular way to experience the natural wonders that both surround us and attract so many visitors to our city.

As a final note, do not feed the wildlife (that includes any engineers you take along with you), as it causes them to form a dependence on human charity. As well, always heed bear warnings. It is smart to make noise on the trails to warn wildlife that you are approaching, minimizing the risk of unexpected encounters. If you listen to warnings, hiking is an extremely safe, and very enjoyable sport.

So put on some Stones, hit the road Jack, and go explore the wonderful world of hiking that’s laid out right at your doorstep.

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