Friday, 7 September 2012

Camping in Bear Country

I've just returned from a short camping trip in Kananaskis and I cannot wait to go back. We stayed at a camp site called Sundance Lodges which has to be the best designed camp site I've ever stayed at. Being used to camping in Britain, the detail which most impressed me was how you could camp right next to your car/truck. The pitches were generously spaced and each one consisted of a metal fire pit, wooden picnic table, spacious pitch and a space to park your car/truck. The whole pitch was surrounded by the same dense forest which you'd find along  most of the trails in the area, so you could see chipmunks and squirrels rushing from tree to tree and under the Chevy. Being so close to your truck means you don't have to fill the tent porch with stuff you might need, because you can just leave it in the vehicle. The picture below was taken at dawn so the lighting wasn't great but you can see just how accommodating the site was:

From Camping in Kananaskis, 2012

What you cannot see from the picture is the camp-site office, or 'Trading Post', where you could buy everything you might have forgotten for your trip, not to mention pre-bundled firewood and gas lanterns to hire. Best of all, it was empty when we went during the middle of the week, right at the end of the summer.

The trails meandering across the Kananaskis landscape were spectacular. I cannot begin to imagine how much work is involved in keeping them clear of felled trees, wild plants, landslides and erosion from the melt water. It amused me to learn that most of the trails are used all year around, albeit on skis in the winter - since the walking trails double as excellent cross-country skiing. You would have to be a seriously good skier to tackle even the modest trails that we hiked, yet alone the trails deeper into the mountains.

The only thing missing from this camping trip was an OS map. Nothing compares to the reassuringly detailed, meticulously compiled and durable Ordnance Survey maps that you can buy in Britain. We found a very good contender which we brought with us, but they just don't compare. For anyone going walking Alberta, I can recommend Gem Trek Maps available here. Trails are clearly highlighted and even have the distances of the various stages marked above them. To be honest, for all of the trails we took, a map wasn't even necessary, since there were signs with maps and a 'you are here' pointer printed at every trail junction.

From Camping in Kananaskis, 2012

From Camping in Kananaskis, 2012

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