If you’re looking to take in the back-country beauty of Canada, an extended hike offers an incomparable experience.
Take, for example, the Berg Lake Trail just outside Edmonton. Winding around behind Mt. Robson, it’s a 21-km trail whose 800 m elevation gain offers stunning views.
Berg Lake itself offers icy turquoise water and the opportunity to see the icebergs that give the lake its name.
Enjoying the beauty of longer hikes such as the trail to Snowbird Pass (22 km each way), however, requires overnight camping along the way. This means giving up some comforts—this isn’t RV camping, and you’ll need to carry lightweight tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves, food and clothes all in your pack.
Expert hiker James Storrie spent four days last month completing the trek.
But the experience, at least according to Storrie, makes any sacrifice worth it. This trail, which climbs the rocky east moraine of Robson Glacier, includes views of a lush meadow, the enormous Reef Icefield and some of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
If you’re interested in hiking, here are some tips to do so safely and comfortably:
Bring the gear you need—and only the gear you need.
A heavy pack will make your hike less pleasant, but getting stuck outdoors without some items could be dangerous or even fatal. If you’re a new hiker struggling to balance those concerns, use the “10 Essentials” (numerous lists, all basically the same, are available online) as a checklist to make sure you bring everything is vital.
Take care of your feet.
Your feet contain 25% of the 206 bones in your entire body, and hiking can be hard on all of them. Respect your feet by wearing properly fitted hiking boots or shoes, and be mindful of any injuries you incur along the way. Soreness after your hike is nothing to be worried about, but more serious problems might require a trip to the podiatrist.
Document your plans.
Always let someone back home know about your hiking plans. Often, you can register with rangers at the same station where you get any necessary permits (the Berg trail requires reservations, so plan ahead). Leave a detailed map of the route you plan to take and say when you expect to be back. That way, help can be sent as soon as possible if you’re really in trouble.
And remember, never take on a hike that is too advanced for your skills or fitness level. Use advanced hikers as an inspiration, but work your way up slowly, so you don’t end up in a situation you can’t handle.