July 23, 2009 | Tips from Travellers >
Find more information about Invermere - Hiking
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Had the opportunity this past weekend to enjoy heli hiking in the Columbia Mountains, in the Bugaboos area
with Canadian Mountain Holidays
offers 3 days heli-hiking this summer out of their Bugaboos
and/or Bobbie Burns
lodges (make a six day lodge to lodge trip to visit both). The trip is almost all inclusive - they look after almost everything for you, from meals to hiking equipment to terrific mountain guides. Drinks were on us but the prices were right! They ring the wake up bell at 7:15 am, you can head down for a stretch at 7:30 am, breakfast is at 8 am and you're off hiking by 9 am. Hikes are typically from 9/10 am through to about 4:30 pm but there are opportunities to head back to the lodge early (for a hot tub for sore muscles) if you are so inclined. The views and hikes were way too wonderful for me to head home early.
Speaking of hikes - the hikes are suitable for all ages, fitness and skill levels. They gently assess you on day one (1/2 day hike) and put you into groups of similar folks. There's easy hiking, faster hiking, mountaineering and on our trip, some folks even climbed a Bugaboo spire! We were perfectly suited to our group - our hike was energetic enough to get some exercise but relaxing enough that I could take lots of photos of alpine meadow wildflowers and have no trouble catching up. (We hiked with folks as young as pre-teens and as old as an active 77 year old and everything inbetween.)
Meals (which were delicious and plentiful) in the lodge were family style seating and service and we really
got to know some lovely people (the lodge accommodates about 50 guests
+ about 20 staff).
As mentioned, equipment is a non-issue (they have most of what you need - boots, poles, backpacks, rain gear) and they give you a list of things they suggest you bring (the right clothes, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.).
Would I change anything about our trip - no way. What would I do differently next time? Maybe fly into Cranbrook
airport (Canadian Rockies International Airport)
instead of Calgary (but I haven't investigated the logistics of this so I'm not sure). Definitely I'm buying a good pair of hikers (I used theirs and they were great - waterproof, sturdy, comfortable - but I'm hooked and want to own my own).
In summary, the trip was fantastic, actually spectacular. The helicopter rides were thrilling, the mountain guides were amazing, the hospitality in the lodge comfortable and the scenery awe-inspiring. This was some mini-break!
We had perfect weather conditions on all four days (day one was a half day in Banff), with very clear blue skies, little wind and surprisingly few bugs. We hiked miles and miles in all sorts of terrain - alpine meadows and ridges (like the photos attached), snow, boulders, scree, sandy alpine beaches, forest, the list goes on; and the whole time, the back drop was so dramatic (I kept hearing tympanic drums in my head). It was like we were hiking at the top of the world.
CMH did a great job - I can't wait to return.