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Old 02-21-2011, 01:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Backpacking across BC. never been there before, any advice?

Im leaving a week from today for some sort of improv backpacking trip, one of my good friends lives in Banff and its his birthday next tuesday, my plan is to fly from Ottawa to Calgary and possibly ride the airport shuttle to Banff(although its 52$) and im trying to make this trip on pretty extreme budget and use as many alternative forms of travel as possible.

My flight gets into Calgary at 9:30am and i want to make it to Banff by dinner time so i dont know if i should try hitchhiking(i hear that area is pretty accepting of it) trying to save a few dollars here and there so i can spend it elsewhere, so if there are other cheap ways to get from Calgary to Banff im open to all suggestions.

Ill be bringing my north face primero 85 http://www.backcountry.com/the-north...4880-5200cu-in packed full of everything i feel i need and my plan is to stay a week or so in Banff(possibly more, i may end up working a few weeks there) im gonna pick up any last minute supplies(food, bear cans, etc) and whenever i feel like moving on ill head out across BC.

Heres where it gets interesting.. Ive only ever driven through that area and i was probably 12, ive been researching the local weather and temperatures, pretty sure ive got enough cold weather gear(two sleeping bags(one of which is a quality 0-5*), i usually sleep in a hammock by hennessey with the fly, mosquito net(it helps break the wind) and a cover but im debating purchasing a new lighter weight single tent for this trip.. my pack is pretty damn waterproof and ive got everything i think i need, ive done some winter camping here in Ontario recently and ive filled my spare pack with weight for a few day hikes to get used to carrying it but otherwise i havnt done much of any real backpacking in the colder regions. I was a scout, grew up on a farm and have done plenty of hunting, fishing and everything else related, ive been in Texas for the past 11 years and unable to experience Canada properly so now im doing some catching up, ive never been around bears but ive read up on what it takes to survive an encounter. what else should i be preparing for in that region? i know it rains a ton, ill be bringing trash bags to wrap my backpack in but ive tested it pretty well and from all the reviews ive read i expect it to keep out the rain. I need new more waterproof boots and one day this week ill be trying on some quality pairs although i may just go with what ive got since theyve still got some life in them and theyre comfortable as is.


There is lots i didnt include in this post and ill be updating it as time and memory permits but is there anything a person thats not local to BC or cold weather may forget when it comes to this sort of trip? ive been told that it can be done in 7-8 days but im giving myself 10, i still dont know my route but ill probably stick pretty close to the trans Canada for navigational purposes, although the route is being left open since i dont really have a time limit, i would just like to see the west coast and a couple friends in Vancouver.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I hate to burst yourr bubble but this is the wrong time of year to be attempting a solo trip like this, especially being unsure of what you are going to encounter. It's winter here and the mountains are unforgiving, so are the animals with sharp teeth.
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Just take the bus there, I went a month ago and couldn't even imagine trying to do it hitch hiking or via some other way.

Banff ain't cheap once you get there either.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Are you freaking serious?


Okay, you get to Banff from Calgary. great, now you're stuck in a winter town.

you can easily get a ride from banff to the ski hills for free. maybe 25-40 kms.

Now somehow you need to be able to survive in the mountains, in the late winter, when we get large snowfalls, varying temperatures from -5*C to -35*C

Did you know that exposed skin will freeze and die in 5 min at -30 in a 10-15 kph wind?

Oh, and the only way across is by highway. Banff to Golden is a pretty major route, expect to walk straight for 3 days.

did I mention there is probably 15 feet of snow in the mountains right now?

So your plan is to fly to Calgary, hitch hike in -20 * Celcius weather and hope at best to get a ride before you get picked up by the cops?




Please stay home.

I don't want to hear about some kid from Texas found frozen to death on the side of the road.

Really for your safety, come up when it is nice out. Our winter kill the most experienced people, you cannot possibly survive more than 24 hours in a -30 winter storm without shelter. And there is not that much shelter over the mountains. And as for bears... they are sleeping due to the 20 feet of snow over their heads. So no worries there.


There is a 98% chance that you will die if you try to walk across the mountains in the winter. Its a 4 hour drive at 100 + kph from Banff to kamloops BC, and its still -10 there right now.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Fly into Calgary, take the hound to banff and then the train from Banff to Vancouver. It's supposed to be -30*C this week in Calgary so it will be colder in the mountains. Hike it in July
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Old 02-22-2011, 05:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I would take the advice your getting and hold your trip off till April. I live on the northern coast of BC and we get a pretty mild 10*C all year, most of the time. It just snowed, froze and rained all in one day, which is odd for febuary beacuse its usually just pissing rain for a month straight by now.

I took the trip from Southern Alberta, through the Kootenays, and back up here, making about a 2 week trip on my way home from work last febuary. I took the bus with nothing but my backpack and it was great (for a bus ride) I was able to stretch it out and couch surf my way home.

Taking the bus will give you the same backpacking experience, but with a warm, dry seat. Also when you start getting west hitching is really frowned upon and VERY illegal, Google "Highway of Tears" nuff said.

It'll be an awesome trip, as long as you dont end up raped, thrown frozen in a ditch to be a snack for a mangy coyote.

If you make it up my way to Prince Rupert, Ill buy ya a beer.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I hope you are taking this advice to heart and not thinking we are joking. Those mountains are serious business in the summer and absolutely deadly in the winter.
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Old 02-23-2011, 02:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=dirty_k;12554892]Ill be bringing my north face primero 85 http://www.backcountry.com/the-north...4880-5200cu-in packed full of everything i feel i need and my plan is to stay a week or so in Banff(possibly more, i may end up working a few weeks there) im gonna pick up any last minute supplies(food, bear cans, etc) and whenever i feel like moving on ill head out across BC.

Heres where it gets interesting.. Ive only ever driven through that area and i was probably 12, ive been researching the local weather and temperatures, pretty sure ive got enough cold weather gear(two sleeping bags(one of which is a quality 0-5*), i usually sleep in a hammock by hennessey with the fly, mosquito net(it helps break the wind) and a cover but im debating purchasing a new lighter weight single tent for this trip.. my pack is pretty damn waterproof and ive got everything i think i need, ive done some winter camping here in Ontario recently and ive filled my spare pack with weight for a few day hikes to get used to carrying it but otherwise i havnt done much of any real backpacking in the colder regions. I was a scout, grew up on a farm and have done plenty of hunting, fishing and everything else related, ive been in Texas for the past 11 years and unable to experience Canada properly so now im doing some catching up, ive never been around bears but ive read up on what it takes to survive an encounter. what else should i be preparing for in that region? i know it rains a ton, ill be bringing trash bags to wrap my backpack in but ive tested it pretty well and from all the reviews ive read i expect it to keep out the rain. I need new more waterproof boots and one day this week ill be trying on some quality pairs although i may just go with what ive got since theyve still got some life in them and theyre comfortable as is.
QUOTE]

I've gone thru you're post and highlighted some of the things wrong or reasons for not going.

- You don't know the region/terrain and you're going to attempt in the most unforgiving time of year.
- You have little to no experience winter camping and you want to do basically an expidition across the mountains.
- You need to be damn sure you have good gear (you think your gear is good enough and have never really tested it).
- You don't have the proper gear from what I can tell. I didn't even see snow shoes or skis on there. Depending on the snow condition you could be up to your chest in snow if you try to walk.
- No bears in the winter. Not even going to go into this.
- Trash bags? Ever tried to sleep in a wet sleeping bag? Those trash bags could mean the difference life and death.
- You're sleeping bag is zero to minus five (0C to -5C) or is it zero to 5 (0C-5C). I would use that for late spring and early summer camping in canada. We get frost in the early mornings till june. You want to have a safety margin for you're bag. Get a -30 or -40C bag or maybe even a -50C bag. Don't push your luck with sleeping bags, unless you like being cold.
- Waterproof boots? If you're planning on hiking in the snow, get some proper winter boots -50C artic boots. Make sure those are waterproof as well.
- Tent. Get a winter tent.
- Hammock in the winter? So all the nice cold air can wrap you're body? Or is this for putting up in a hostel so you don't have to sleep in nasty bed-bug filled beds.

There's a reason we have a lot less homeless people in Calgary and the mountain towns, because THEY FREEZE AND DIE in the winter.

Moral of the story.
You're geared up for summer. Come back in July and you can experience the Calgary Stampede then hike across the mountains then.

Last edited by Stuwy123; 02-23-2011 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks all, that what i needed to hear, ill just spend a few weeks in banff and come back later in the summer.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks all, that what i needed to hear, ill just spend a few weeks in banff and come back later in the summer.
good call man
its -17C in fucking kelowna (interior of bc) right now, its retarded
and the scenery will be much nicer in the summer, and i dont just mean the mountains, not only do we have the best bud, we have the best women
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks all, that what i needed to hear, ill just spend a few weeks in banff and come back later in the summer.
Good call, just plant your @ss down at Wildbills and have some fun, head in to Canmore to chat with Mike and Mike and grab a beer from the Drake, maybe stagger down to the Hotel for entertainment purposes
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