Jay's Report - July 14, 2005

Summer Secrets

Fernie is a secret in the summer � like the winters used to be. Activities are abundant but they don�t necessarily jump out at you. You won�t see any bill boards or mass advertisements on activities like you do at other popular resort destinations. That�s what I like about it. Spectacular hiking for instance is just outside the front door, but in what direction? There are a couple of well written books on hiking in the Fernie area such as Mountain Footsteps by Janice Strong and Hiking the Southern Rockies by Joey Ambrosie. I like both. But in searching for a particular hike to embark on, I usually only read every second line of any particular section, preferring to leave my destiny, at least in part, to chance. And I�m a male, so I don�t stop and ask for directions. I love to hike but I seldom enjoy searching for a trail head and route finding. Hiking to me is all about being in a trance like state and soaking up the scenery and wildlife without having to think too much about it.

So let me tell you about one of Fernie�s summer secrets. Our 12 year old son, along with other kids of similar ages, enrolled in a week long hiking camp offered by Mountain Pursuits. It consisted of 5 days of hiking including Spineback, Moccasin, Silver Springs, and an overnight hike to Castle Mountain as well as another overnight hike to Tanglefoot that included the families of the kids. The campers learned about trip planning (think KD with ketchup).

What a great experience on a number of levels. First, the kids seemed spiritually enhanced by their week in the mountains. This I attribute first to simply being outside for a week instead of being in school, on the computer, watching TV, doing sports, etc� A close second would perhaps be due to the infinite optimism (�I see blue in the sky�), mountain knowledge (�That thar�s a grizzly print, but he�s going the other way!�) and boundless energy (�Summit or Plummit�) of Steve Kuyjt of Mountain Pursuits, which, by osmosis, obviously seeped into their souls. One of Steve�s guidisms, �Wow, sure is cold, but at least its��; and the kids shout in unison, �Raining!� or �Hailing� or �Snowing� � all of which we managed to experience on the family overnight expedition.

The other thing that stuck with me is how much I enjoyed the guided hike, especially for a family trip. I learned more with less preparation and less worry. I had to think less. (See above comment on trance like state.) It�s funny how in Canada guides are used less often than in Europe. Yet Canada is by far larger and Canadians work longer hours. So we have more space and less time. If you want to maximize your holiday experience in the Fernie area and enjoy hiking, I would recommend a guided hike to start. Moutain Pursuits� unobtrusive, fun, knowledgeable style got us through cold wet hikes that would have tested our parental patience. I don�t know about your children, but ours seem to have much more stamina and positive attitude when Dad is not the guide!

Just like the ski hill, but on a much more massive scale, there are many summer secrets in the Elk Valley. We�ve been hiking in Fernie for years, yet our son hiked five days with a guide this past week, and did 5 hikes we have never done. Check it out(before the secret is out).

Thanks for the pics Steve!

Kids Group Summit Shot

Cliff Diving at Silver Springs

Silver Springs Bluffs

Exploring Abandoned Mine Shaft

Lush Shrubs, Evidence of Better Rain Falls this Summer

Castle Mountain Camp Site

Group Shot of Family Expedition

A Little Fog and Later, Snow, on Anniversary Peak

View of Ski Hill from Castle Mountain

View of town on Castle Mountain Hike