We’ve invested in more than a dozen guide books since we started hiking back in 2003. Several sit on the shelf collecting dust and a few more are pulled out once or twice a year. Two that we refer to on a regular basis were written by Kathy and Craig Copeland:
- Don’t Waste Your Time® in the Canadian Rockies – The Opinionated Hiking Guide (covers Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho and Waterton Lakes national parks, plus Mt. Robson and Mt. Assiniboine provincial parks); and
- Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies – The Premier Trails in Kananaskis Country.
We refer to these two volumes more than the rest combined. Why is that? Because in addition to providing directions to trailhead parking and a description of the hiking route (including distance, elevation gain and navigation points), the Copeland’s freely share their opinion on whether it’s worth allocating a precious hiking day to a particular trail. Having heeded their advice more than 10 years, we’ve come to rely on it – although we occasionally nitpick over whether a particular hike should be rated outstanding vs. premier, for example.
The 7th Edition of Don’t Waste Your Time® in the Canadian Rockies appeared on the bookshelves earlier this year, with updated content presented in a new format: an omnibus opinion book and nine thin fact booklets, all zipped into a hardshell case. We couldn’t get our hands on a review copy, so ended up buying this latest edition the next time we stopped at MEC.
There’s a big benefit to the new (maybe even radical?) format: instead of lugging a heavy guidebook that consumes valuable pack space or needing to remember to photocopy the few relevant pages before leaving home, just bring the whole thing on the drive to the trailhead and then leave everything but the one relevant fact booklet locked in the trunk. That way you carry only the ultralight fact booklet that contains the directions and map for the day’s adventure.
You might be thinking that a trail map and description on a tablet or phone does the same thing in roughly the same weight, but a thin booklet requires neither recharging nor signal reception! And while we hope never to face this situation, it could even be used to help start a warming fire in an emergency!
The updated content includes 7 new hikes, several changes to trail ratings (promotions and demotions) and lots of eye candy (more than 500 photographs). Mt. Temple is the most notable addition to the list of dayhikes, and the Copeland’s description of their reasons for finally include the challenging route in this latest edition of their guidebook is well worth reading.
We took the “Dayhikes: Outstanding” booklet along when we hiked Mount Bourgeau. I stowed it in a waterproof sack, just in case of rain, because the booklets don’t appear to be printed on waterproof paper. I appreciated being able to pull it out at lunch time to read a bit about the trail history and geology.
As the 2015 hiking season winds down, we’ll slot the bright green 7th edition onto our library shelf beside – but when we feel the urge to start compiling a list of hikes we’d like to do in 2016, it will be the first volume we pull from the shelf!
If you’re looking to start, add to or update your own collection of hiking guide books, we recommend picking up a copy of this latest edition of the Copeland’s enjoyable and opinionated guide to Rocky Mountain National Parks. You should be able to find it at MEC; bookstores in Calgary, Canmore and Banff; through the usual online book sellers; or by contacting the Copelands directly.
Is there another guidebook for our part of the world that you recommend? If so, please leave a comment to let us know.