This is a guest post by National Geographic Author Marybeth Bond.
A few summers ago my twenty-year-old daughter and I felt a need to escape the busyness of everyday life and reconnect. We needed to do something to break away from the routine of her visits home — working, buying groceries, cooking, entertaining, and disjointed conversations. We came up with a great idea! Heli-Hiking!
Select An Activity You Both Enjoy
During the peak of the wildflower season, we joined a group of hikers with CMH Summer Adventures. After a short flight from San Francisco to Calgary, Alberta we headed west to Banff National Park for a night to explore Canada's first National park. The following morning, we drove further west, into British Columbia to CMH's heli-pad for a short fight to the Bobbie Burns Lodge. We were airlifted directly to a comfy, remote lodge, with sheets, down comforters, fresh fruit and vegetables, located in a pristine area far from roads, trails, or signs. Here you can hike to your heart’s content—your only neighbors an occasional grizzly bear, mountain goat, or marmot—and still end the day with a massage and glass of Pinot Noir.
Unlike my mountain excursions of my youth when I backpacked and ate freeze-dried food, I awoke each morning at the Lodge and indulged with ripe raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, freshly baked breads, scones, muffins, home-made muesli, granola, Eggs Benedict and French toast and more!
After our first feast of many, we divided up into small groups and were whisked away to remote ridge tops and mountain lakes. We hiked as hard as we wanted, with CMH's professional, and personable, guides. Some flower aficionados enjoyed strolls by streams and identified flowers.
“This was a different kind of pampering vacation. One I could get used to!”, JC commented.
Optional High Adrenaline Via Ferrata Mountain Climbing
Via Ferrata are vertical pathways with permanently fixed cables for safety and metal rung ladders to easier climbing.
The last day, a hardy group of us opted to go mountaineering, which means white-knuckled, adrenaline-pounding technical climbing up vertical peaks where we would be roped together with our experienced guide. We didn’t have to have previous climbing experience. Our group ranged in age from 15 to 65 and the majority of us were women. Thanks to the support, encouragement and knowledge of our expert climbing guides, who ensured our safety, we rose to the challenge and made it to the summit.
The helicopter dropped us off near the base of the climb. We were a group of fifteen; several different families ranging in age from 14 to 64. Roped in we found hand and foot holds, and slowly made our way, one-foot-at-a-time to the summit, where we collapsed with dizzying drops in all directions and panoramic views of neighboring peaks and glaciers. And then we rappelled 150′ down to the base of the peak and glissaded (slid) down an ice field to the waiting helicopter. Moments later, we were back on the lodge of the deck toasting our success with a locally brewed beer!
We both had moments of terror; climbing to the top of Mt. Nimbus, crossing the suspension bridge or rappelling down. The exhilaration and thrill of climbing surpassed even our wildest expectations. And then, we were whisked back to the lodge where we relaxed in the warm Jacuzzi with a locally brewed beer, beneath jagged snow-capped mountains.
Heli-hiking is an awesome adventure for anyone who loves the outdoors, as any experienced traveller will tell you. It deepened our relationship and gave us a tapestry of mountain stories we tell over and over again.
Join Marybeth and her daughter August 5-8, 2012 at the Bobbie Burns for the Ultimate Mother-Daughter Getaway! Learn more by calling CMH Summer Adventures 1.800.661.0252.