Easier than you think – Keeping your hiking legs in shape

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The spring shoulder season can be a challenging time in the mountains. When the Elf lived in Vancouver he would typically have been camping several times before late April rolled around. The Rockies near Calgary are different. It may surprise you, but typically the mountain winter snow pack is at its peak in early/mid May (before rapidly melting).  This can make hiking in the mountains a challenge as trails are either snowbound, icy or muddy. Wet flow avelanches (the most dangerous) become more common. Many highways remain closed until May or June making some trailhaeads harder to access. At the same time, backcountry reservations are open (Banff and Kananaskis take reservations 90 days in advance), turning our minds to the upcoming trips of  summer.

How does one get out and keep ones hiking legs in shape? Look no further than your local city parks. While perhaps not as epic as the high alpine or untouched beach, you may be surprised what can be found near you. I’m lucky to live 5 minutes a way from Nose Hill Park in Calgary with its 60km of trails.

Elk Lakes Provincial Park

Similar parks are scattered around the city like Weaselhead Flats and Fish Creek (among many many others). Calgary is not unique in this regard, with most cities host to a wide variety of parks and trails (you may drive by one every day and not even know i)t.  A little research on your local Parks and Recreation site (City of Calgary Parks) can uncover all sorts of  hidden gems.  These places can be a great place to explore, maintain your fitness level and get your daily dose of vitamin N, even if you only have an hour or two after work. Just this morning my kids and I went for a 6km hike, taking us less than 2 hours door to door.

The group photo (missing Dwarf)

These nearby hikes can be a great place to test out new gear at low risk if things don’t work out (such as boots, packs, clothing). As well, if you’re unsure about hiking in inclement weather, what better way to develop your experience by taking a neighborhood hike in the rain. Fitting a hike into a busy schedule can be easier than you think.

One suggestion however, go-early, during peak hours these parks can become pretty crowded particularly on a nice day.

Beautiful creek near Elk Lakes

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Kelly McDonald

After spending 12 years in Ottawa Kelly returned to Calgary in 2012 and decided to pick off where he left off by roping his closest friends into some new back-country adventures (some more fun than others).

Kelly McDonald is a father of two hobbits ages 12 and 13 and tries to get them out into the wilderness as often as he can.

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Staying Safe While Hiking

For those new or unfamiliar with the outdoors, heading out can expose you to risks you may not be aware of.

To help you get started here are a few basic tips and tricks to help keep you safe on the trail.

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