3 Horrible Tips By A Horrible Hiker (By Zach SIMS)


Then asked how I got into alpine hiking, my answer usually surprises most. I took the very few things I owned; a broken heart, a camera, and a pair of my grandfather's hiking boots, and I put them to good use. Before this summer it wasn’t apparent to me that these three seemingly disadvantageous items would hold such significance for myself. They lead me onto the first peak I had ever climbed, Mt. Bourgeau. Sitting at a very modest 9,616 ft. this beautiful mountain would also be the largest I have yet to hike. With this experience, I want to offer you some advice.              

TIP 1: Sometimes you need to just take a risk. Buy that plane ticket, pack that bag and go. Be spontaneous.

My trip out to Banff National Park was the product of short notice.  My family was there for my sister’s hockey and two days before I left, my girlfriend of three years broke up with me. So, I packed up my bag, grabbed my camera and brought those old leather boots. 
  When I arrived in Banff I had no desire to climb a mountain or to even walk a few trails. However, my family is a very active one, so I knew there would be a day or two where we would be exploring the beautiful landscape around us, hence the packing of a camera and those stinky boots. Our first matter of business was to head to the information Center. The Park Ranger was a woman from Vancouver who was there to study the wolf pack movements: she was very helpful. She not only suggested some trails for my family and I to do, but suggested that I hike at least one mountain. So in the spirit of this first tip I said “why not!” and decided on the mountain she claimed had the best view of Banff, Mt. Bourgeau. 

TIP 2: Always carry duct tape. 

I had a tough time with this tip because it could also be simply “buy proper fitting gear”. However, being broken hearted and the naive adult I am, I thought those boots would suffice.
Duct tape is the first thing I put in my pack when I go out and the last thing that comes out when I get home.  I learned very quickly that this stuff is a gift sent from God when it comes to blister control.  Inexperienced, I decided to jump into a 25km hike with old leather hiking boots I had never used.  In retrospect, this was a rookie mistake, but we all learn somehow! After I went through Harvey Pass and headed to the peak of Mt. Bourgeau .I had a blister that had popped open and proceeded to create a crime scene in my sock. I placed a band-aid on it and continued moving upwards. Feet getting clammy, the band-aid was hardly holding on, so in a grumpy daze I dug through my bag grabbed that roll of duct tape and proceeded to wrap my left heel in half the roll. I've learned now that this was slight overkill for the issue at hand but in the moment it worked beautifully. That band-aid did not slip off again and there was no more rubbing occurring on that blister. 
On other adventures I've used duct tape to repair a rip in my rain jacket that happened by catching a branch while scrambling up Mt Arrowsmith , it has fixed a hole in my air mattress that happened on the first night of a two-night trip, and it has patched a Crack in my canoe  while going through the Sayward lakes.  Needless to say, duct tape has been a lifesaver on many of my trips and can be used to create so many things.  So grab yourself a roll of duct tape and place it in your bag, or build some rope out of duct tape and tie the roll onto a strap on your pack. You'll thank me later. 

TIP 3: Be ready to fall in love.

While walking through the Rockies by myself I started to notice the cold air tickling the back of my throat on each hard breath. I noticed the frost on the ground was untouched. The birds were starting to wake up and sing but the biggest thing I realized was there weren't any city sounds. No road noise, no horns, no brake sequels, not even another person's voice. Just me and the nature around me. This is when I fell in love with alpine hiking. This is when I fell in love with mother nature and the beautiful place we call home. Sure , I was feeling the worst leg cramps I have ever experienced when I got to the top. My feet were swollen and bruised and my toenails were starting to fall off but I was in love.
  My addiction started on June 15th, 2016 and it lead me to the top of 7 other mountains through the summer as well as the constant hiking of the Juan De Fuca trail and our West Coast of Canada. It lead me to the tallest peak on Vancouver Island and to the craziest views of whistler I have ever seen.  It made me conquer my fear of heights and battle the war against a badly broken heart. So no matter what you decide on doing or where to go just remember to be spontaneous , carry some duct tape and to make sure you are ready to fall in love. Enjoy those views , those moments and those sore feet because most people don't venture to where we go. Most won't see what we see. So live each moment to the fullest and have fun. 
Oh one more thing, those bruises you get under your toenails won't ever go away. Learn to love them. Or do what I do and paint them pink. Your choice.