Monday, January 29, 2018

A Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies - Book Review (2nd edition)

I still remember how excited I was when author, Andrew Nugara first came out with a beginner's snowshoe guide book for the Canadian Rockies. I got the book, and finally had a collection of trips all written up in one spot that I could easily reference anytime I wanted (without endless internet searches.)

A Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies (photo: Rawson Lake, trip 85)

Andrew Nugara has now come out with a second edition of his popular beginner's guide to snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, and this guide book describes over 100 different winter outings, each one safe and suitable for novice or beginner hikers. (Many also great for families!)

This is why we love snowshoeing (photo: Rawson Lake, trip 85)

Why you Need a Snowshoe Guidebook 

I could just spell it straight out and say "because experienced hikers are getting tired of having to answer the same questions over and over (and over) in online hiking forums."

And while that may sound rude, it's kind of true. If you're a member of any social media hiking forums, you'll be familiar with the endless questions from hikers, seeking advice on trips - and they're almost always the same questions.

And don't get me wrong, I am glad that novice hikers are seeking the advice of the more experienced members in these forums, asking for current trail conditions, checking on avalanche conditions, and even asking for help with the choice of trail for their group. BUT, it would help a lot if you at least did a little bit of the initial research on your own. 80% of the questions asked in online forums are already answered in the awesome guide books that we have for the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking around Upper Kananaskis Lake (trip 84)

So in a nutshell, what I'm requesting is that you first buy Andrew's guide book if you want to go out snowshoeing this winter. Then, make a list of the trips you think would be suitable for your group based on the accurate distances, difficulty rating, and information Andrew provides for each outing. Once you've done that, then take any additional questions to an online forum. And instead of asking "what should I hike?," you'd be asking "what are the current conditions for Troll Falls?" or "which trail do you think would be best with kids, Rawson or Chester Lake?" - but at least you already have your hike(s) in mind and you've done some initial research on your own.

Emerald Lake (Trip 112)

Other reasons to buy Nugara's new snowshoe guide book: 

All the information is in one spot - You'll save yourself hours of time by not having to search through endless websites, and online forums. And imagine the time you'll save in not having to search instagram looking for the best hashtags to bring up the most "beautiful" snowshoe hikes in the Canadian Rockies. Just look through Andrew's book and you'll be inspired by the gorgeous color photos of his recommended hikes.

You can trust the source - Andrew Nugara ia a very experienced hiker with detailed knowledge on each of his 100+ recommended outings. He isn't just recommending the same 3 hikes that he's always enjoyed with his family or friends (as most of us do in online forums.) Seriously, there is life beyond Chester Lake! Based on what I see in winter hiking forums though, you'd never know that based on the advice offered to beginner hikers. And for families, you don't have to stick with Troll Falls! There are so many other options presented in Andrew's book.

Nugara has also hiked with his own extended family and has a good understanding of what a "novice hike" is. He has done a lot of hiking with children and knows what kind of hikes a family would enjoy. (Just look through his book and you'll see dozens of happy family snowshoeing photos.)

Emerald Lake (Trip 112)

A great collection of avalanche-safe hikes! - Seriously, Andrew states at the beginning of his book that "with a few minor exceptions, there are no routes in this guide book that go into avalanche terrain." - Which is very refreshing for me as I plan a family winter hike!

Education - Andrew's book starts out with 50+ pages on "preliminaries. This includes:

  • Information on choosing snowshoes, types of snowshoes, why you need to use snowshoes, sizing, and footwear

  • Recommended equipment and gear for winter hiking (a question I see posted in online forums all the time!!)

  • Suggestions for other winter traction devices in slippery conditions (another hot topic in online hiking groups)

  • Snowshoeing with the family! - there are 5 pages on family hiking at the beginning of Andrew's book. He even gives suggestions on how to transport kids with sleds, child carriers, Chariots, and pulks.

  • Avalanche education (a very important section to read for all winter hikers, even if you don't plan to go into avalanche terrain)

  • Hazards, weather, and other factors to consider when hiking in winter (another very important section to read)

  • Safety on frozen lakes (and yes, you should read this section too!)

  • Snowshoeing techniques (because while it is essentially just "walking," there are still special techniques that make it easier)

  • Snowshoeing etiquette (Every skier out there would really like you to please read this section!) 

Mistaya Canyon (trip 120)

The collection of appendixes and lists at the end of the book - I love lists so this is always my favourite part of Andrew's books. In the appendixes, you can find lists for:

- trips organized by level of difficulty

- trip combinations (perfect for short hikes where you could combine two together for a longer day)

- family trips (my favourite list)

- advanced trips for experienced snowshoers

- new to this edition

- favourites (the author's own personal top picks)

- information centres (where you can pick up maps!)

Mosquito Creek (trip 115)

NEW in the Second Edition 

If you've already purchased or read the first edition of Andrew's snowshoeing guide book, here is what I found to be new and notable:

Ptarmigan Cirque (trip 45)

  1. More color photos. And that means more inspiration

  2. More hikes! 120 hikes to be exact! The previous book had 77 hikes

  3. More areas covered. New areas covered include the Crowsnest Pass, the Highwood (for early season snowshoeing before December,) and Highway 93 south through Banff and Kootenay National Parks

  4. Expanded areas. There are several new hikes described for the Bragg Creek and Elbow Valley areas, along the Smith-Dorrien highway, in the Kananaskis Lakes area, and along Highway 93 north (the Icefields Parkway)

  5. Advanced trips for experienced snowshoers (15 trips listed in an appendix at the end of the book)

Elbow Lake (trip 44)

My Personal Top Ten Favourites 

Andrew lists his favourites in an appendix at the end of the book so I've decided to give you my own personal list as well. You'll have to grab a copy of the book though for information on each hike.

  • Rawson Lake and Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis

  • Chester Lake, Kananaskis

  • Troll Falls, Kananaskis

  • Elbow Lake and Ptarmigan Cirque, Highwood Pass, Kananaskis

  • Paddy's Flat and Beaver Lodge Interpretive Trails, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis

  • Lake Minnewanka and Stewart Canyon, Banff

  • Bow Lake and the Peyto Lake viewpoint, Icefields Parkway, Banff

  • Mistaya Canyon, Icefields Parkway, Banff

  • Mosquito Creek, Icefields Parkway, Banff

  • Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

And that list would be even longer if I included several that we enjoy on cross country skis (Watridge Lake and Boom Lake for example.) 

Lake Minnewanka (trip 91)

Suggestions for Volume 3

JASPER. Please. :)

Bow Lake (trip 116)

Buy your Own Copy of the Book

Andrew's new book is available in most bookstores or you can buy it from Amazon at this link: A Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies

Bonus, if you purchase the book off Amazon, I'll make a few cents to buy a cup of coffee with.

Chester Lake (trip 66)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the book for review. All photos used are my own. 

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous view. I would love to have those mountains in my own backyard.