Moving to Calgary

11:29 a.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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I have been reading trailspace for a few days and just decided to sign up.

I am pretty new to the backpacking world.  In High School I would take one trip a year(mostly to the Smokies but once to Mt Rainier) but that was with borrowed gear and 12-15 years ago.  Over the past 12 years I have lived all over the country(California, Texas, Indiana) and outside the country(Bangkok, Angola) and haven't had much extra time for backpacking. 

I am now in the process of moving to Calgary for my wife's job and will have lots of time to do more things.  I am very interested in any gear and location info you all can give.  

I would like to take some 3-5 day hiking trips within a couple hours of Calgary.  Any recommendations????

I am still in the US for the next week or so but I have already started buying some gear when I find good deals.

my gear so far-

Pack- NorthFace Terra 65 Sleeping Bag- NorthFace Cats Meow Tent- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Cook Stove- Jet Boil SOL Stove Sleeping Pad- Big Agnes Air Core insulated 48"

 

Please feel free to critique my gear as I can still return it if need be.

Thanks all!

2:20 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 is a great Canada guy. Be he could help with all that! Welcome to TS!!!

3:19 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Welcome to TS!!

Much of the gear you choose will depend on your style of camping. For example: Jetboil is a well-known name, but I prefer my alcohol stove for my style of cooking. Some people want a down sleeping bag; some prefer synthetic. There is no right/wrong answer, just preferences--and then quality of gear.

I would encourage you to read the reviews of gear you are considering. You can also rent gear at many outdoor stores (I always rent my snowshoes when I'm in Colorado, because I don't need them in Illinois.).

3:25 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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I lived in Calgary for a summer while in college.  Beautiful city.  

4:16 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Boy, did you ever pick a great city to move to! Not for the people or the (ho-hum) hockey team, but for proximity to the Rocky Mountains!

You'll be within an hour's drive of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country (provincial), and an hour and a half will get you to Lake Louise, and to Yoho and Kootenay National Parks! That's four of the five areas that make up the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, with some of the best scenery and (IMHO) the best hiking in the world. The fifth, Jasper, is my personal favourite, and it's a three hour drive from Banff. 

As for gear, that depends on what you want to do. A good place to start is your local Mountain Equipment Co-op store. It's similar to REI, and in spite of some new consumer lines, it is still the best place to start out. The prices are competitive, and the equipment is good. The more experienced staff can offer helpful advice. Ask for Alina if you get to the one in Calgary. She was one of my organizers for a few years, and she knows her stuff. 

If you're at all familiar with a mountain climate, you'll know that one of the most important elements to deal with is the speed at which the weather can change. At this time of year, overnight lows can easily be down around freezing, 0C/32F, while the daytime high yesterday in Banff was almost 30C/86F. It's raining today, though so the temperatures are well below that. You'll have to be prepared for anything that might happen, knowing that on many trails, help will be days away or completely unavailable. 

As for hikes, there are any number to choose from, from short day hikes to backpacking marathons. I'd suggest you pick up a copy of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, by Brian Patton and Brad Robinson. It's considered the 'Bible' here, and if you can't find the trail you want in there, it doesn't exist. 

It's a good idea to check in with Parks Canada before leaving on any hike to find out about things like trail closures or other information that might affect your trip. There are offices in Banff, Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay, and they have information that is usually fairly up to date. The rules for hiking and backpacking are also different here than in the US, so you'll want to make sure you have the right permits and equipment, and that you don't break any laws or regulations. 

For example...

DSC02792.jpg

...and that doesn't even cover random camping, custodial groups, or backcountry permits. 

If you have specific questions feel free to ask. As you see, I'm pretty enthusiastic about my parks. 

5:03 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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See...I told you Peter1955 was the bomb-ditty!

5:21 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Welcome to trailspace. Iam glad Peter has you set in the best direction..

5:30 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks giftogab! I am picking Peters brain on private message so he might not be so thrilled you pointed me in his direction. 

Jason- We are looking at living in the Kensington area, ever been?  We will be in Corporate housing downtown for 60 days until we find a place but that location seems ideal for us.

5:45 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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I honestly don't remember what part of town I stayed in.  I lived in a swanky hotel for 3 months summer of 2001.  Unfortunately, I didn't explore what nature had to offer in the Calgary area while there.  I drove back to Montana every weekend.  Sounds like Peter has the scoop on the good nature stuff though.  I am sure other Canadians will chime in too.

If I recall correctly, I don't think there is really a bad part of the city.  It all seemed nice.  

7:43 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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good luck in your big adventure!

11:08 a.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Alberta is a wonderful province and I love the Canadians. Never been to Calgary, but there is so much great country nearby. You will like it there. Don't miss the Stampede, one of the great parties in North America.

1:31 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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I don't go to Calgary if I can help it. Too any rednecks and wannabe cowboys. ;-)

But those mountains...!

1:33 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Haha, I have lived in Texas the past two years so I am sure I can handle it!

7:59 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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July 28, 2014
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