Hiking season is here at last and I’ve been collecting hiking buddies over the winter! Over the weekend, a crew of us (including Ryan!) headed out to Waterton Lakes National Park for a group adventure. Originally, we planned on going up Red Rock Canyon but the spring runoff had the stream so high we couldn’t walk along it, we would have had to swim.
Instead we headed to Blakiston Valley. We did a quick stop at Blakiston Falls and enjoyed the futuristic looking new observation decks.
The sign said it was 10km but it didn’t really say what was at the end of it. I had done Blakiston Valley a few years ago with the dogs, but we never made it to the end. Heading off without a destination seemed fitting with Merrell Canada’s Take A Hike campaign. The company is encouraging people to celebrate Canada’s 150 and get out and enjoy the natural beauty our wonderful country has to offer.
We headed off and enjoyed chatting and the joy of a sunny day and an empty trail.
About two miles in we hit our first patch of snow. We thought it was fun to slog through the patches but very quickly those patches turned into a constant floor of snow.
We soon noticed a regular foot path of large bear tracks! The tracks were very old so we were able to just enjoy how LARGE those prints were without being worried about running into any large furry friends.
The snow softened as the day went on and pretty soon we were falling into it like crazy. It was novel and funny and we picked our way along following a set of footprints that went before us.
About 5 miles in we came to the valley it was clear of snow and the views were stunning. We stopped for a lunch break and to enjoy our surroundings a bit.
I was so happy to finally have Ryan on a hike with me, sharing a fun outdoor experience.
To help me convince Ryan to come out, Merrell outfitted me and three friends with their latest line of hiking boots! Ryan had no more excuses not to come after getting his MOAB 2 Mid Waterproof boots. These boots offered durable leathers, a supportive footbed, and Vibram traction so Ryan couldn’t complain about his feet the whole time.
But after this valley, we wanted to get to the end of the trail and see where it went. But almost as soon as we were out of the valley the trail was snow covered. So snow covered that we didn’t know where the trail was.
Luckily, the foot prints we were following turned into snow shoe tracks and we followed the snow shoe tracks. We were so grateful for whoever this person was and we begun to wonder who this solo trailblazer was.
Slowly, the tracks started to lead us up and it looked like a clearing was just ahead. We picked our way through trees following that trail. We had talked so much about this snow shoer that we decided to name him. We decided his name was Bud Mackenzie and as we trekked up through the snow, falling in up to our thighs sporadically, we talked about what we though Bud was like.
Pretty soon my watch read we were 6.5 miles in and that ‘clearing’ we kept thinking was just above us was not materializing. We opted to turn around since we had already finished most of our food and water and had to get back to the car. But as soon as we did the view took our breath away!
We had no idea we had gone up that far! Bud had led us pretty high up a mountain and for some reason it didn’t feel like it. It was so beautiful!
I wish I could say the way back was as much fun as the way there but by then the snow had gotten REALLY mushy and we were falling in up to our thighs every few feet. At one point, Kristi’s left leg went in and the right slid down putting her into a perfect split. I laughed SO HARD!!!
On the way down, our boots were filling with snow. We kept having to stop to clear out the ankle area of the snow accumulation and we all had some pretty cold ankles. Samara and I were pretty stoked about our new Merrell women’s Siren Sport Q2 MID boot, because while wet they didn’t chafe or hurt our feet. These boots are designed exclusively for women and offers support, alignment, and gender-specific stability which is nice because we gals definitely carry ourselves differently than men.
The walk back was trying. We were hungry, and our legs were pretty dead from all the single leg squats stepping out of the snow. I got to the point I was so tired I started crawling my way out when I fell through to the thigh high snow.
I laughed a bit because we were all silent during that last 2 miles. Ryan’s back started to bother him, and we gals were thirsty and hungry. At one point I told them it was like we were on a military death march and I took some creepy pics of the girls looking pretty darn tired. I’m nice and won’t post them though. Ha ha!
We finally made it back to the car after 7.5 hours of hiking and 13.5 miles.
We hit the townsite and INHALED tacos from the Taco Bar. I forget how delicious Julie’s menu is and need to stop in there for some carnita tacos way more often!
It was such a blast and I always enjoy a day out on the trails. So why not take Merrell’s advice and Take a Hike this weekend?
This post was written in collaboration with Merrell Canada.