Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Rockies’

Rocky Mountain high (tea)

February 6, 2011

This was first published April 4, 2010, in my Boston Globe column “Where they Went.” I love the trip’s multigenerationalness (is that a word?).

From left, grandparents John and Cathy Looney, daughter Delaney, Christine Hennigan, and son Riley at Lake Louise

WHO: Chris Hennigan, 40, with her children, Delaney, 8, and Riley, 10, all of Woburn, and her parents, Cathy, 68, and John Looney, 69, of Winchester.

WHERE: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

WHEN: Nine days in July and August.

WHY: To take the Appalachian Mountain Club trip “Family Hikes in the Canadian Rockies.’’

WOW FACTOR: Chris Hennigan wanted her children to enjoy hiking as much as she does. “I thought I’d wow them with the Canadian Rockies,’’ she said. “I’ve been hiking since I was 2; my dad used to put me in his backpack. I hiked until I was about 18 and stopped until I was in my mid-30s. The AMC was trying out these family trips, so I asked my parents to go along, too. Hiking isn’t really my mom’s thing, but she was excited because the kids were going.’’

Three Generations, Delaney, Christine, Riley and Cathy, at the bottom of the falls fed by the Daly Glacier

ALL AGES: The group of 25 hikers, ages 2 to 81, including four leaders, met in Calgary and traveled in three minivans. They stayed in private rooms at two hostels for four nights each, the Banff Alpine Centre and then Lake Louise Alpine Centre, both run by Hostelling International. Several children were on the trip. “It was a good mix,’’ Hennigan said. “The older ones could look out for the little ones and motivate them. They had a blast.’’

MINOR CHANGES: Each day three trips of varying levels were offered. “In the original itinerary, the easiest trips were far too difficult for a kid or older person. The first day’s hike was a good six hours and the kids were in tears.’’ The leaders adjusted the schedule, and “after that it was great. We got up later, had a leisurely breakfast, and didn’t feel pressured to keep moving.’’

Christine Hennigan and her daughter Delaney at Bow Lake

WHAT A VIEW: ’’It was unbelievable scenery,’’ she said. “When my kids keep saying, ‘Mom, look at that glacier, look at that cliff,’ you know it’s spectacular. What really got to them was the color of the water, this deep blue green.’’ One day they drove the Icefields Parkway, where visitors can walk on a glacier. “It’s like walking on ice with crunchy snow on top of it.’’

TEA TIME: They knew the final day of hiking, to the Lake Agnes Teahouse above Lake Louise, would be the hardest. “It was switchbacks the entire way up,’’ Hennigan said. “It was a tough climb on everybody. But once we got to the top it was one of the most unbelievable places I’ve ever been. You sit on a porch and have tea and homemade bread with this unbelievable vista. The kids thought it was neatest thing. Before we got back home from Canada, they told me they were already planning to go on the family trip to Colorado next summer.’’

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Dispatch: Curling and skiing in Canmore

February 25, 2008

I came to Canmore in Alberta, Canada, to cross-country ski. So Ladies-league night at the the Canmore Golf & Curling Clubhow did I spend my first evening? Curling! No, not my hair, and, OK, I was only watching it and not doing it, though one new Canmore comrade practically pushed me onto the rink. (Having gotten up at 5 o’clock that morning in North Carolina and with a two-hour time difference, I was too darned tired to even try it out.)

Here’s how it happened. When I got to this charming town, surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, I kept seeing signs leading to “Curling Rink.” I was intrigued. I’d seen a brief demonstration of curling when I was in the Northwest Territories in 2002 [Click on image to read story], but Ladies-league night at the the Canmore Golf & Curling Clubhadn’t recalled much about it. I stopped at the rink, combined with a golf course (!) and learned that local leagues would be playing that evening. I returned to the Canmore Golf & Curling Club later that evening and had a fascinating time. Not only was it ladies-league night, but the viewing area is behind glass in a room where you can have a great dinner and sip a brew. I got a great rundown on the sport from some friendly curling women, and we all went outside to watch the lunar eclipse.

The next day (last Thursday) I hit the slopes at Canmore Nordic Centre and Provincial Park. A friend had told me about it a few years ago, saying it was an amazing place to cross-country ski for people of all skill levels. Being a weenie skier, I’m always on the lookout for places that have more than a windswept golf course for novices.

Diane skiing the slopes at Canmore Nordic Centre and Provincial Park; CLICK TO ENLARGEAnd what a day it was!! The sky was bright blue and it warmed up to about 45 degrees, balmy for these parts.  The easiest trails still had some ups and downs, but for the most part I was fine. I did have to fall at one point to avoid careening over a hill when I couldn’t make a turn. This is a typical Diane ski move, witnessed by many friends. Sigh…. The scenery was freakin’ amazing, especially when the trail came to a meadow surrounded by snow-capped mountains. And speaking of snow, it was perfect. Wow, I wish I could visit there every week.

Of course my time there wasn’t all fun and games. I stopped to interview several people, Couple from Washington state skiing; CLICK TO ENLARGEincluding a couple from Washington state; local realtor Laurel Dupuis, who was kind enough to take my photo; and a woman from New Jersey who was overcome by the beauty of the place. In the late afternoon I popped into stores along Main Street, taking notes for my story. I really like this town!

The day ended on not the best note, when a water main broke near my motel and the very, very, very loud construction crew worked to fix it from 5 p.m. until 4 a.m. Argh… Meanwhile, we were without water. Luckily, I always travel with a bottle of water and earplugs! I loved that the nearby Grizzly Paw Brewing Company was pouring until it ran out of glasses, as none could be washed.

On the road in Canada’s cowboy/girl country

February 22, 2008

I heart Calgary and Canmore. So far anyway. I’m in Canada for a travel-writing meeting in Banff (yes, it’s a tough life) and have several stories lined up, because that’s the way it’s done. Go one place and milk it for all its worth. (I really do work hard.)

Peaks of the Rocky Mountains as seen from Banff centerWednesday I landed in Calgary and headed for Canmore, with a quick detour to Banff. The drive was gorgeous.

Here are some first impressions.

A Welcome to Calgary host greeted us when we got off the plane. She was in her 70s, with a red and white understated cowgirl get-up and white cowgirl hat. I loved that! (In the US, I’m sure she’d be under 30 and showing cleavage.)

I felt left out because I was toting a skis in a bag.

The man at the Dollar rental car didn’t try to “upgrade” my economy car. This is a first!!! He did offer me extra insurance coverage and tank-fill-up option, but didn’t push either. This is a first!!!

Calgary has bicycle paths leading to the airport. Woo-hoo!

My little Toyota Yaris (like it a lot) comes with an ice scraper (of course) and an electrical plug-in to keep the battery heated (how heck do you use it?).

People here (including moi) are thrilled that the weather is in the 40s for a couple days after a frightening cold spell. Of course I saw a dude in shorts. The bad side of the warmth is it brings avalanches. Which makes me think of my seatmate on the plane from upstate New York. He’s with three buddies from Vermont and they’re off to ski downhill and backcountry for two weeks.

Road leading to Banff, AB, CanadaThe view driving from Calgary reminded me of Denver. Modern city with majestic mountain views in the distance.

You know how in places with harsh winters, cars get very, very dirty? Here, I’ve seen cars that are almost black with grime, so much so that I wonder how they can see out their windows.

Alberta has a great community radio station CKUA (93.7 FM), which was established in 1927.

On Highway 1A, the TransCanada Highway, I saw a fully loaded cyclist. (Not drunk, but laden with panniers.) Saw a couple racer dudes too. In February! Passed “Elk Crossing” signs but no elk in sight.

More on Banff and Canmore later. I gotta hit the slopes! (Nordic, that is.)