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If you’re looking for adventure in Banff National Park then you’ve got to try the Via Ferrata at Mt. Norquay. Even though you’re clipped in, it can be a little nerve-wracking at times. But also empowering.

Exceptional views of Mt Rundle and Banff from the Mt Norquay Via Ferrata – Photo credit: Mt. Norquay

What you get with this giveaway

My seventh giveaway out of ten to mark 10 years of blogging is a pass for two people to do the Explorer Route on the Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata. Over 2.5 hours enjoy a scenic ride on the chairlift, climb a couple of pitches and cross the suspension bridge. (Price is $169 per person plus tax.) 

Riding the Mt. Norquay chairlift to the Cliffhouse Bistro

If that doesn’t sound like enough for you there are three other options – the Ridewalker (4 hours), Skyline (5 hours) and Sumiteer (6 hours) routes. You can sign up for any of them but you would have to cover the difference in price. At the end of your adventure you’ll undoubtedly want to stay for a drink or enjoy a meal at the Cliffhouse Bistro. It offers one of the best views of Banff.

For more information about what happens at Mt. Norquay in summer click here.

Mt. Norquay – close-up view of the rock

Some pitches really get your attention

The suspension bridge along the Via Ferrata

The Via Ferrata is worth doing for the views alone

How to enter 

There are three ways to enter. If you enter all three ways you’ll increase your odds of winning.

  • Leave a comment on this blog telling me if you’ve ever done a Via Ferrata before – and if so where.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Wednesday, June 19th until Tuesday, June 23rd at 8 AM. The winner will be notified either by email or through Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Then another winner will be chosen.

Leigh McAdam

The post Giveaway – Two Passes for the Mt. Norquay Via Ferrata appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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The fabulous 3.5 kilometre King Creek Ridge hike off of Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country offers truly exceptional mountain scenery but it’s definitely not a beginner or even a family-friendly hike. But once you reach the ridge itself after about two kilometres of hard, steep hiking, the grade moderates and the rest of the hike is positively glorious. It’s one of the best ridge walks I’ve done – though I’d also highly recommend nearby Pocaterra Ridge.

Views like this make the stiff climb entirely worthwhile

The route up to the ridge

I was a bit confused once we got into the woods as the trail leveled out for a while – mostly paralleling the road without climbing very much. I’d read that it was two kilometres straight up. The straight up part starts soon enough, perhaps after about 10 minutes of hiking in the woods, but it’s not immediate. The ascent may be hard on the breathing but as you’ll see, the descent is far trickier. You may want to take poles on this hike.

Views part way up the steep part of the hike

The minute you hit the ridge – and even a bit before – the magic unfolds. Turn left once you reach the ridge top and follow it for about 1.5 kilometres enjoying sweeping views of the mountains, especially of Mt. Wintour. Its shape has been described as being “like whipped ice cream or the Matterhorn.” 

One of the first big views you get on the ridge

Look across the valley and you’ll feel like you’re looking at the Swiss Alps. Even the grass looks groomed. Maybe it’s the numerous bighorn sheep that keep it looking so good. And if you look southwest it’s easy to pick out Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes as well.

Kananaskis Lakes off in the distance

An easy to follow trail along the ridgeline

The ridge climbs at a gentle grade for its 1.5 kilometre length. You’ll see a lot of wildflowers along the route. I was surprised to see prairie crocus blooming in mid-June. The snow must have recently left.

Prairie crocus blooming in June

We let Rosie off the leash for a few minutes so she could cool down in the snow

Some people turn around at a big rock cairn you’ll see near the end of the ridge. But I think it’s worth continuing to the very end. That does involve a small scramble up some rocks with a minor amount of exposure for a few feet. We had a big Bernese mountain dog with us – so she was a far bigger concern than our own safety. She took her time, both coming and going, so it worked out just fine.

The last part of the King Creek Ridge hike

Note the exposure on the right hand side

At the end of the ridge look over to Opal Ridge (another steep hike I’d recommend) and Fortress Mountain. Sit back, eat lunch and enjoy the scenery before retracing your steps.

Looking across to Opal Ridge

For the descent

As there is no signage anywhere take note on the way up of what the scenery looks like when you reach the ridgeline. You don’t want to miss the turnoff for the descent. I think the rest of the route finding is straightforward if you pay attention to what trail looks to be well-traveled. There is a bit of braiding in places but it was minor compared to other trails I’ve done in K-country.

Be cautious on the descent. There are some really nasty parts with those ball-bearing like small rocks where you could turn your ankle in a second. Take your time.

John and I did the hike up and down in four hours at a relaxed pace. At the end of the ridge we spent about 40 minutes enjoying the view over lunch.

Finding the start of the King Creek Ridge hike

A lot of people seem to have trouble finding the trailhead – especially since nothing is signed. The parking lot is easy enough to find. It’s on the east side of Highway 40, roughly 100 metres north of the winter gate for Highwood Pass.

To get to the start of the King Creek Ridge trail walk back out towards Highway 40 and look right (north). You’ll see a trail taking off through the grass just in from the road. Follow it as it climbs up to an intersection. Take the left branch and head for the woods.

The start of the King Creek Ridge hike

Head left up on the King Creek Ridge hike

Before you head out on the hike it’s always prudent to check the Kananaskis trail report.

This is grizzly bear country so be sure to carry bear spray. If you need a refresher read Tips for Staying Safe in Bear Country. We didn’t so much as see any bear scat.

I think the King Creek Ridge hike is a marvelous one. I loved the scenery and views at the top. But with 731 metres of elevation gain and lots of steep trail to deal with, choose your hiking partner carefully. You want them to enjoy it as much as you do.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Leigh McAdam

The post The King Creek Ridge Hike in Kananaskis Country appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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If you’ve always wanted to visit Fernie, British Columbia in the summer you’ll love this giveaway to celebrate my 10th blog anniversary.

I’ve teamed up with Snow Valley Lodging in Fernie to offer a two night stay along with a mountain biking package for two people from Fernie Alpine Resort.

Snow Valley Lodging in Fernie

Snow Valley Lodging subscribes to the Tiny Home philosophy and offers tiny living but with all the comforts, including a hot tub on the property. With a location in the centre of Fernie and everything within easy walking distance, why not enjoy a couple of days of adventures along with some R&R this summer. The dog-friendly property offers full kitchens and amenities like free WiFi and a 32″ flat screen TV. They’ve also got bikes if you just want to get around town. Prices normally range from $129 to $169 + tax per night depending on what type of room is booked.

The Tiny Home – part of Snow Valley Lodging offerings in Fernie

Looking down from the second floor

The common space in the Tiny Homes

Fernie Alpine Resort Mountain Biking

Many of you have either skied or snowboarded at Fernie in winter but did you know they offer lift accessed mountain biking in summer? From June 22nd until September 2nd you can ride the Elk Quad chairlift between 10 AM and 5 PM (7 PM on Thursdays). They offer trails for all types of riders so you definitely don’t have to be an expert to have fun.

The full day downhill bike package with rental (along with helmets and arm/leg pads) and lift ticket is $184.95 + tax per person.

Taking the chairlift up at Fernie in summer – Photo credit: RCR

Mountain biking in Fernie is for all levels of riders – Photo credit: RCR

Beautiful backdrop for mountain biking – Photo credit: RCR

More advanced riders will love all the wood features – Photo credit: RCR

What you get in this giveaway

The winner will get two nights accommodation – based on availability for two people in Fernie at Snow Valley Lodging along with two passes for lift accessed mountain biking and rentals at Fernie Alpine Resort.

How to enter 

There are three ways to enter. If you enter all three ways you’ll increase your odds of winning.

  • Leave a comment on this blog telling me what you’d like to do in Fernie.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Monday, June 17th until Sunday, June 23rd at 8 AM. The winner will be notified either by email or through Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Then another winner will be chosen.

The post Snow Valley Lodging & Fernie Mountain Biking Giveaway appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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Have you ever heard of the Choquequirao trek? I had not until I spent some time looking through active vacations on the G Adventures website. I don’t know how this superb 8 day trek slipped by me. I’m familiar with the other three treks that deposit you at Machu Picchu; the Inca Trail, the Salkantay trek and the Lares trek. But the Choquequirao trek is the only one I’d recommend, now that I’ve done it. The main reason is the fact it hasn’t been discovered yet. Six of the eight days on trek are incredibly quiet, beautiful and peaceful.

Looking down to the Apurimac River

Background Information about the Choquequirao Trek

The 8 day trek starts in Cachora – almost a five hour drive from Cusco, and ends at the Hidroelectrica train station not far from Aquas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu.

On six of the eight days you don’t see many other trekkers – hence the appeal in my books. It’s not until you meet up with the Salkantay trekkers on day 7 that you feel like you’re back in civilization.

The trek is varied. It takes you through tropical-like cloud forest through to the high alpine. Occasionally temperatures are sizzling hot at midday but the minute the sun goes down the temperature heads south as well. Daylight is short – about 12 hours – so you get up in the dark and head to dinner in the dark. 

We had two guides with us – Joseph and Carlos – or Ooh-la-la – as we called him. Twenty horses, seven horsemen, two cooks and a couple of helpers rounded out our crew. And there were 16 of us. So we were a big group.

Days on the trek are quite long – in the six to seven hour range. Kilometres don’t mean much in the terrain we covered though at the end we figured we’d done somewhere around 125 km. Joseph our guide suggested 160 km and I’m willing to go with that!! The high point on the trek is Yanama Pass at 4,660 m or 15,289 feet. Lower down bugs are bad though you’ll never see one. Bug spray is a must.

Our two guides – Joseph and Carlos

Wondering what a G Adventures Choquequirao trek looks like? Here it is broken down day by day. Day 1: Bus ride from Cusco to Cachora followed by a 6 – 7 hour hike

The alarm went off at 4 AM. Sleep-deprived already from missing my flight to Peru, I was happy about the five hour bus ride to the start of the trek where I and everyone else caught as much shut-eye as we could.

Somewhere around 9:30 AM we arrived in the village of Cachora – my core muscles well-used from tightening every time we took a curve on the highway. After a quick breakfast we started off – albeit only for about 10 minutes before hopping onto a smaller shuttle and getting to the actual trailhead.

You have to sign in with your passport and write your age and occupation before you head off. I had a quick look at the ages of everyone who’d signed in ahead of me. It was a pleasant surprise to see that it wasn’t all just a lot of young bucks in their 20’s but many people in their 50’s and 60’s. At least I had a hope of keeping up. 

A five hour descent to the Apurimac River broken by a lunch stop was the order of the first day. Although it was stinking hot, it was also extremely beautiful. I had no idea the landscape would be so rugged and deeply incised by canyons. Or that masses of wild purple grasses and blooming wildflowers would be in such abundance.

At lunch time a decision was made to continue to a camp a couple of hours up from the Apurimac River. Most everyone but me was happy about it but hiking when sleep-deprived is hard. I dug deep and trudged the last few hours up to a camp – crawled into my tent and only came out for a quick dinner.

Whirls of orange wildflowers at the start of the Choquequiarao Trek

First day on the Choquequiarao trek hiking through a stunning landscape of purple grasses

The hiking looks easy but the trek is at altitude in the heat and its sometimes pebbly underfoot

Horses get the right of way on the Choququirao trek – which suited me fine as it gave me a chance to catch my breath

The Choququirao trek is very dusty on day one

Day 2: Somewhere near Marampata to Choquequirao

The morning started with a steep 2 hour and 10 minute climb to the village of Maramata. At some point along the trek we could look back to the trail from the previous day. It looks precarious in places though it never felt like that.

While the hiking at altitude sure got my attention what I loved about this part of the trail was the whiff of wild mint that I’d catch periodically. And the landscape is phenomenal; at times it looked surreal with plantings on mountains so steep you wonder how people could stand without falling off.

Hiking continued after lunch with a steep descent from our camp to the ruins of Paqchayoq. Some of the terraces are in the process of being restored but what a job that must be. I felt a sense of calm and quiet in the space and enjoyed the beauty of a massive waterfall.

A view of part of what we’d hiked the first day

Hiking was thankfully in the shade on much of the second day

Mindblowing to see the area cut out of the mountain to farm

Our tents set up at the second campsite

Exploring the deserted ruins of Paqchayoq

Notice the elaborate terracing behind me

Day 3: Explore the Choquequirao ruins and then hike to Pinchiunuyocc

At night a major thunderstorm lashed the area. I loved listening to the booms but come morning without my headlamp on, I slid out on the way to the bathroom, not once but twice on mud I didn’t see. Thankfully the hiking trail was in far better shape than the campground.

It was a short but steep climb to reach the ruins of Choquequirao, which means Cradle of Gold. It was built around the same era as Machu Picchu. But unlike Machu Picchu that sees upwards of 1,000,000 visitors per year, Choquequirao gets about 5,000 people coming through every year. There is talk however of putting in a cable car to shorten the journey from a two day walk to a 15 minute ride – and bring in up to 3,000 people per day – at least according to Lonely Planet. Visit now before that happens.

We spent several hours exploring the ruins with stops at important buildings to learn their history. While numbers vary it has been suggested that Choquequirao is a much larger site than Machu Picchu but only about 30% of the ruins have been uncovered. There’s a ceremonial flat area where perhaps more than the odd animal sacrifice is said to have happened.

After lunch at the ruins we continued for two hours down the mountain and ended up at camping on ancient Inca terraces – my favourite spot on the whole trip.

Breakfast would be served most mornings at 5:30 AM

It’s a short hike from camp to the ruins of Choquequirao; our trail from the 2nd day is a thin line across the mountains in the distance

Interesting lighting with an early arrival at the ruins

Heading for the main Choquequirao ruins

Choquequirao is often called the other Machu Picchu

Exploring the ruins of Choquequirao

My favourite campsite sleeping on the Inca terraces

Choququirao trek camping on the Incan terraces

Day 4: Pinchiunuyocc to the Maizal Campsite

The day started with a gorgeous 70 minute descent to the Rio Blanco past moss-covered trees, cacti and grasses. Then the climbing started – three hours of non-stop huffing and puffing. Camp for the night was about halfway up the mountain in the photo below. The backdrop was stunning – and since it was the home of a local family we also got treated to roosters crowing right outside our tent at 4 AM. Trips to the bathroom involved avoiding the pigs. 

With a short day of hiking we all had time to get clothes washed – and dried – along with a few hours of much needed R&R.

Looking ahead to our route switch-backing up the mountain

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Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I enjoy visiting Canada’s national parks. So far I’ve been to 31 of the 47 parks. I’ve yet to visit Rouge – just outside of Toronto but I have been to two of them in the far north – Ivvavik and Auyuittuq. And in less than a month I’ll be visiting the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve for the first time. It’s located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near the border of Quebec and Newfoundland. No one I have spoken with has ever heard of it. My dream one day is to hit them all but I may need to sell my house so I can afford the airfares to the remote ones!

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite for trips to national parks.

Camping at Summit Lake in Auyuittuq National Park

Plain of the Six Glaciers, Banff National Park

Massive trees in Gwaii Haanas, British Columbia

The beauty of Ivvavik National Park in the Yukon – at about 10 PM

View on the first day hiking the Long Range Traverse in Gros Morne National Park

Parks Canada Discovery Pass Giveaway

The fine folks at Parks Canada have kindly donated one Discovery Pass (value $136.40) that’s good for a year (really 13 months) starting July 1, 2019 for up to seven people. The Discovery Pass allows access to over 80 places in Canada that typically charge an entrance fee.

For more information on Canada’s national parks visit their website.

There are three ways to enter this giveaway. If you enter all three ways you’ll increase your odds of winning.

  • Leave a comment on this blog and tell me what national park you’d most like to visit.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Wednesday, June 12th until Tuesday, June 18th at 8 AM MST. The winner will be notified either by email or through Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Then another winner will be chosen.

Leigh McAdam

The post Giveaway: One Parks Canada Discovery Pass appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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Have you always wanted to drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper in summer? You probably know already that it’s a world-class drive. And if you’ve done any research about things to do along the parkway I bet a visit to the Columbia Icefields is on that list and maybe even the Glacier Skywalk.

I think you’ll love the giveaways I have for two people from the Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection. You’ll have the opportunity to do both those things – in addition to enjoying a cruise to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake.

The Columbia Icefield Adventure + Skywalk

The Columbia Icefield Adventure by Pursuit gets you up close and onto one of the world’s largest non-polar icefields via the Ice Explorer. You’ll be able to walk on the glacier and even drink water from the Athabasca Glacier. Then it will be off to walk the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk – providing you don’t get a case of the willies once you’re there. The views are superlative. (Regular prices are $144 per person for these two activities.)

The Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park – Photo credit: Columbia Icefield Adventure by Pursuit

Quite the backdrop for the Glacier Skywalk – Photo credit: Columbia Icefield Adventure by Pursuit

Exploring the Columbia Icefields in specially designed vehicles – Photo credit: Columbia Icefield Adventure by Pursuit

Maligne Lake Cruise

The best boat cruise in Canada according to 8 million Reader’s Digest subscribers is the one on Maligne Lake that cruises to Spirit Island. The backdrop is stunning – rugged mountain peaks and water that’s a spectacular colour of blue in the right light. And Spirit Island itself  is nothing short of gorgeous.

While I have kayaked to the end of Maligne Lake and watched the boats heading for Spirit Island go by I don’t think many people would feel comfortable paddling the distance to Spirit Island. A boat tour is a fantastic way to experience Maligne Lake. The cruise is normally $79 per person with several add-ons possible (that aren’t part of the giveaway) including a buffet style lunch at the historic Maligne Chalet.

Spirit Island viewed from a boat cruise on Maligne Lake – Photo credit: Maligne Lake Cruise by Pursuit

Can’t beat the backdrop for this boat cruise – Photo credit: Maligne Lake Cruise by Pursuit

The Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection giveaway and how to enter

I have a combo package for two people made up of three adventures. The first part of it is a guided tour on the Columbia Icefields. The second is the Glacier Skywalk and the third part is a boat cruise to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. All activities are in Jasper National Park.

For more information on these activities visit the Banff Jasper Collection website.

There are three ways to enter. If you enter all three ways you’ll increase your odds of winning.

  • Leave a comment on this blog and tell me which one of the three activities you’d be most excited to do.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Monday, June 10th until Sunday, June 16th at 10 AM MST. The winner will be notified either by email or through Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Then another winner will be chosen.

Leigh McAdam

The post Giveaway: 3 Jasper Adventures with Pursuit Collection appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, British Columbia is not just a winter destination. In summer you can take the scenic gondola up to the top and hike one or more of seven trails. Or sign up to do one of the three Via Ferrata’s they offer. And then there’s the mountain bike park where as they say the wahoo factor is amplified by multiple berms, jumps, wooden features (Stickrock has to been ridden to be believed), rock slabs (look directly below the gondola to see the longest) and plenty of good ol’ white-knuckle singletrack. 

Let these photos whet your appetite for a summer adventure at Kicking Horse.

The Kicking Horse Via Ferrata

Need an adrenaline rush? Called the most exhilarating Via Ferrata in western Canada – and that’s saying something – tackle the north face of Terminator Peak. There are three lengths to choose from along with three levels of exposure.  You also get a chance to see Boo – the orphaned grizzly bear at the Grizzly Bear Refuge. 

Could you handle this exposure on the Via Ferrata – Photo credit: RCR

The airy bridge on the Kicking Horse Via Ferrata – Photo credit: RCR

Test your mettle on the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse – Photo credit: RCR

The Mountain Bike Park at Kicking Horse

There are a host of impressive statistics to the mountain bike park at Kicking Horse. Consider this: there are over 50 kilometres of trails, 32 runs, over 120 jumps and a vertical drop of 3,700 feet. Trails are labeled just like ski runs – easy, moderate, difficult and very difficult. With so much choice your body will likely tire out before the day is over.

There are trails for all ages and abilities at Kicking Horse Resort

What a backdrop for mountain biking!

The Kicking Horse Resort giveaway and how to enter

I have a combo package for two people. The first part of it is a two hour Via Ferrata Tour that is valid until the resort closes. There are two blackout periods – June 28 – July 1 and August 2 – 5, 2019. There are no extensions. To learn more about the Via Ferrata experience click here.

The second part of the giveaway is two full day mountain bike lift tickets along with bike rentals at Kicking Horse Resort. The same blackout dates apply as they do for the Via Ferrata. To learn more about the mountain biking at kicking Horse click here.

The giveaway of course includes a ride on the scenic chairlift and the opportunity to take advantage of the hiking trails.

There are three ways to enter. If you enter all three ways you’ll increase your odds of winning.

  • Leave a comment on my blog.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Friday, June 7th until Thursday, June 13th at 9 AM. The winner will be notified either by email or through Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Then another winner will be chosen.

The post Giveaway: Two Adventures at Kicking Horse Resort appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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If you’ve been to Banff, Lake Louise or Field then you may already be familiar with the Rocky Mountain lodges run by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. In Banff they have Buffalo Mountain Lodge; in Lake Louise, Deer Lodge and in Field the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge.

I’ve stayed in all three places, mostly in the winter. I love the romantic quality to them and their onsite restaurants. All three hotels enjoy great locations with easy access to outdoor adventures.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Emerald Lake Lodge is a short drive from the small community of Field in Yoho National Park. With its enviable location overlooking Emerald Lake, you will have no problem finding things to do outdoors if you can drag yourself away from your cabin. In summer I recommend the easy walk around Emerald Lake. In winter snowshoe down to the Kicking Horse River and watch the icy waters flow through the narrow rock opening at the Natural Bridge.

Emerald Lake in summer

Buffalo Mountain Lodge

This lodge is away from the hustle and bustle of Banff’s main street though still just minute’s away via a quick drive up Tunnel Mountain Road. Their rooms are homey – filled with stone and a wood-burning fireplace along with supremely comfortable beds. Look for heated slate floors in the bathrooms. Some rooms have private balconies. In winter especially be sure to check out their massive stainless steel hot tub. 

Food onsite is creative and delicious. And you’ll find a whole host of things to do no matter what the season practically out your door. If you’re new to Banff be sure to hike Tunnel Mountain, no matter when you visit.

The backdrop for Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff

Deer Lodge

With its incredible location – a five minute walk at most from Lake Louise, Deer Lodge is well situated to take advantage of all that you can do in the area. While it’s the most rustic of the three lodges, some rooms have been updated and their dining room is excellent. In summer why not hike to the teahouse at the Plain of the Six Glaciers. In winter check out the Fairview and Tramline trails on cross-country skis.

Deer Lodge in Banff National Park – Photo credit: CRMR

My CRMR giveaway to celebrate 10 years of HikeBikeTravel

Win a two night stay with breakfast for two at any one of the three CRMR Rocky Mountain lodges – your choice based on availability. The gift certificate is valid from October 20, 2019 to December 15, 2019, or January 20, 2020 to May 15, 2020.

How to Enter the Giveaway

There are three ways to enter. You’ll get one entry for each way you enter.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me which  lodge you’d most like to stay in.
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

The contest runs from Wednesday, June 5th and closes on June 11th at 6 PM MST. The winner will be notified by email or through a direct message on Facebook and will have 24 hours to respond. Otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Leigh McAdam

The post Giveaway: Two Nights in the Rockies with CRMR appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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This month I am celebrating the 10th anniversary of my blog – HikeBikeTravel. I’m in awe at how quickly the years have slipped by and the fact my blog is still very much around. I’d like to say a big thank you to all who have stood with me (and put up with me!!) since the beginning. 

When I started I knew nothing about writing, photography, marketing, SEO, social media, pitching – in fact anything related to the blogosphere. On dozens of occasions I was ready to throw in the towel but every so often a bone would be thrown my way and I’d persevere. 

I’ve had a longer learning curve than some bloggers (being a geologist and dietitian didn’t help much) but I do feel like I’ve finally hit my stride. I love what I do, especially the opportunities to travel the world and meet interesting people. I’m proud of my new website that went live last week. (Note: If there are any glitches you see let me know.) I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the companies and organizations that have stepped up and offered goodies to contest out over the month of June. That means a lot to me.

My new HikeBikeTravel website

If you haven’t checked out my new website please do when you have a minute. I’m getting great feedback on the About Me page – and info under the header – attempts on husband’s life seems to make people laugh. I’ve added a photography and video gallery and even a store where I make a few pennies on any purchases you make. 

10 Giveaways over the Month of June

You can look forward to 10 incredible giveaways over the next 3.5 weeks, beginning today so be sure to check out my website or Facebook page regularly in June.

Firefly Books, the publisher of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta that I co-authored with Debbie Olsen, kindly stepped up to the plate and has offered their five Nature Hot Spots books in one package. The other books include 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario, 100 Nature Hot Spots in British Columbia and 150 Nature Hot Spots in California

100 Nature Hot Spots in British Columbia

150 Nature Hot Spots in California

110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario

125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

How to Enter the Giveaway

There are three ways to enter. You’ll get one entry for each way you enter.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me which province or state you’d most like to visit for their nature hot spots. 
  • Go to my Facebook page, like it and leave a comment there.
  • And if you subscribe to my newsletter here – you will get a third entry.

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We recently had the privilege of visiting Jordan. It was a real treat having been reasonably acute observers of international news and a lover of maps, basically all of our lives. There was a palpable feeling of excitement and tension just being in this part of the world.

We were in Jerash only 35 km from Syria with all its tragedy. Saw a road sign that pointed left to Iraq and right to Saudi Arabia! We saw fighter jets returning to base. Don’t really want to know what they were up to. We looked into the West Bank and Israel to the east. We saw Egypt from Aqaba in the south. This is the Middle East. Loved being there so here are some mostly non-political, non-religious and mostly interesting facts that hopefully inspire you to go to Jordan; the Switzerland of the Middle East.

Enjoy these 50 strange, fun country of Jordan facts – all discovered or experienced by my husband, John McAdam – the author of this guest post.

Citadel in Amman Jordan – and the site of a small museum

  • Jordan is formally known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
  • So, a Kingdom ought to have a king and it does. His name is Abdullah II and is a member of the …… yes, the Hashemite family. Wonder if they will change it to Queendom if there is a queen?
  • The word Jordan is thought to be derived from the Hebrew word “Yarden” which translates into something like “descend” or “to flow down”; something a river might do.
  • Strangely enough, there is a river descending or flowing down called the “Jordan River” flowing from north to south serving as the border between Israel and Jordan and ending up in the Dead Sea. Kind of a tragic ending.
  • The country is tiny! About 89,000 square kilometres (34.5 thousand square miles) which if it were a square would be less than 300 kilometres (186 miles) on a side; that’s 3 hours on a highway!
  • Jordan would tuck nicely in southern Alberta where we live and in fact, you could do that seven times over. If you lived in Texas you could have eight Jordans. That also means Texas is bigger than Alberta which Texans would be pleased to know.
  • Jordan has six neighbours: Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt (we count the water border), West Bank and Israel. What a neighbourhood!

Saudi – Iraq road sign

  • Jordan became an independent state in 1946 and is part of what was formerly know as Trans Jordan. 
  • Pretty sure that name and the borders are NOT locally derived.
  • Jordan has a national flag. This counts as a fact.
  • And this does too. The flag looks like this. [insert picture of flag here.
  • The capital of Jordan is Amman.
  • Aman used to be known as Philadelphia but to the best of our knowledge the Philadelphia in the United Sates has never been known as Amman; although it might be one day. There is a precedent after all.
  • Amman is 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Damascus, the capital of Syria. We don’t recommend visiting right now.
  • By air, Amman is 72 kilometres (45 miles) from Jerusalem but by car it is 252 kilometres (157 miles). You can’t do it by boat.
  • Jordanians drive on the righthand side of the road which is the right side as far as we are concerned.
  • About 10 million people live in Jordan; most live in the north and roughly 40% of them live in Amman. The housing density is astounding. 

High density housing in Amman

  • Its hard to know for sure, but some experts (eg. taxi drivers) estimate as much as 60% of the population is of Palestinian origin (most having been displaced between 1947 and 1967) and that combined with over a million Iraqi and Syrian refugees means “original” Jordanians number about 30%. Now isn’t that an impressive display of neighbourliness and hospitality! Jordan is a super accepting country and has made citizens of a huge number of these displaced people.
  • The country is 93% Sunni Muslim, 6% Christian and 1% other. Arabic is dominant language. Snuck two facts in here.
  • Diners use dinars for dinner; the Jordanian currency, the Dinar, is worth about $2.00 Canadian ($1.50 US) in 2019 at the time of this typing.
  • Jordan shares the lowest point (well actually it’s a line being the shore of the Dead Sea) on planet earth being about 427 metres BELOW sea level, with the West Bank and Israel.
  • This line is getting shorter and lower as the Dead Sea level lowers over time.
  • The Dead Sea is actually a lake, located at the bottom (where else) of a rift valley system where the earth’s crust has pulled apart.
  • The Dead Sea has a salinity of about 33% as compared to the ocean being about 3.5% saline. That is why everyone floats way high in the water. 

Dead Sea float – a cool thing to do but you don’t want to stay in the water for more than 15 minutes

  • Reportedly there are a fair number of drownings by people floating on their stomachs and who can’t roll onto their backs. We didn’t try this. Might want to call this a possible fact until it is fact checked.
  • Natural asphalt bubbles up into the Dead Lake (sounds just as bad as Dead Sea) in places but we didn’t see any so this might be “a plausible but personally unverified fact”. Interesting though.
  • This rift valley is an earthquake zone and some of which were documented in the Bible.
  • The rocks also tells us there were earthquakes and rocks don’t lie. Well, actually they do; on top of other rocks, but not in the sense of misrepresenting the truth. There is a geologic unit called the Lisan Formation deposited fairly recently when the Dead Sea was much larger. It consists of seasonal accumulation of a bit of sediment and gritty material from winter rain flushes and which is then overlain by a thin layer of aragonite, a mineral that drops out (precipitates) during the summer evaporation. Year after year, the pattern is maintained, building up these rhythmic beds until disrupted by an earthquake that jumbles the top layers in the sequence. After the earthquake, the rhythm was restored covering up those disrupted beds and so it went. With careful counting and dating one can get a reasonable estimate of when earthquakes happened and some of them tie quite nicely into early recorded history in the area. This is a lengthy alleged fact since we didn’t actually see this formation. Read about it though; on the internet – so it has to be true.
  • The highest point in Jordan is a mountain called Jabal Umm al Dami at 1854 metres in southern Jordan.
  • Speaking of mountains, Jordan is really hilly (mountainous) especially in the north.
  • Jordan, although only 73 years old has had people wandering around in it since times pre-historic. Highly recommend a visit to the small but wonderful Archaeological Museum at the Citadel in Amman and you can see stone tools excavated near Azraq in eastern Jordan that are, if I recall correctly (not a reliable source), 45,000 years old.

Scene from Little Petra in Jordan

  • Given Jordan is an extension of the African rift valley, Lucy’s (3.2 million years old) offspring may have wandered up and through Jordan.
  • People that didn’t wander through were the Romans who seemed to have invited themselves for an extended stay about 2000 years ago. Go to Jerash in northern Jordan and you will be amazed by what these guys did. There are reportedly the most extensive Roman ruins in the world but can’t independently verify that since we have not visited all the Roman ruins in the world. 

The Roman ruins of Jerash, Jordan

  • The history of Jordan is long, rich and complex and would have to report way too many facts to do it justice but starts in the prehistory and involves many wanderers, conquerors and conquerees. The are lifetimes of learning in this domain.
  • In case you were thinking every country in the Middle East is a massive oil producer you had better stop that as it’s not factual. Jordan produces virtually no oil but 60% of Jordan is underlain by oil shale which unfortunately is not easy to wrest oil from.
  • Jordan produces a little bit of natural gas in the east near Iraq which is used to generate electricity. It used to import gas from Egypt but now it comes from Israel. We don’t normally think of Israel as a gas producer but it is.
  • We can also report that, as a person that enjoys finding and looking at birds, are therefore very pleased to report that reportedly, reports are that 412 species of avifauna (birds, if you prefer) have been reported (presumably by reporters) in Jordan.
  • Jordan is on the African Eurasian flyway and therefore migration time can be very exciting in Jordan; for some of us – especially in a place like Azraq which is a bit of a wetland in the desert. You can read more about birds and Azraq here.

Qasr Kharana – a desert castle 60 km east of Amman

  • It can snow in Jordan so take more than your bathing suit when you go.
  • Winter temperatures are 5-10°C and summer in the range of 20 to 35°C according to an international weather website. Then they say is can be over 40° C. Why don’t they say the range is 20 to over 40°C then they wouldn’t have to say “sometimes it gets to over 40°C.” Sheeeesh.
  • Doesn’t rain that much in Jordan with annual rainfall in the 25 to 40 cm (10 to 18 inches) range although I bet if you went back to that weather website they would probably add there can be more and less rain depending how much rain falls.
  • Jordan can be quite green, after a rainfall for instance and in the north where it is mountainous and treed. To the south and east it is more desert like and in fact, is desert.
  • You must also go to Wadi Rum. Sorry for being so emphatic but it is a desert area with massive rock outcrops (maybe even mountains) creating a magical environment especially at sunset sitting on a camel. Apparently, Lawrence of Arabia visited the area and his impostor in the movie presented himself for filming here too. 

Camels are a common sight; reportedly they have a fine memory and hold a grudge if poorly treated

  • You must go to Petra and little Petra in the southern Jordan. Not sorry for being emphatic here. The scale of the carvings in rock and the large area of this former trade hub is impressive. Even the UNESCO people like it. There is evidence that people were here 9,000 years ago but the biggest influence were the nomadic Nabateans lived here a long time – which doesn’t make them nomads does it? Yup, the Romans showed up here too. There is so much to say about Petra that perhaps you should go to this blog post and get a taste of it.

I loved Little Petra – hardly any tourists but the temples in the same vein as Petra

  • Speaking of taste, Jordanian food is delicious. Mansaf is the classic which is lambed cooked in jameed which is fermented dried yogurt (who in the heck came up with this ingredient, and what else did they try first) and served with rice or bulgur.
  • Had the best falafels we ever tasted at the Hashem outdoor restaurant in Amman. Hard to prove this fact but you can’t disprove it either since we ate the falafels and they are gone now.

Include a visit to Hashem for excellent street food in Amman

  • For those with a sweet tooth halva and baklava abound in Jordan. Actually, it is a fact that we enjoyed an Amman food tour and you probably would too.
  • Most wonderful new dessert taste experience was Kanafeh which according to Wikipedia “is a traditional Levantine dessert made with thin noodle-like pastry, or alternatively fine semolina dough, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese, or with other ingredients such as clotted cream or nuts, depending on the region.” Doubt that we could repeat that but it sure was delicious.

Kanafeh is a little slice of heaven

  • You can bicycle in Jordan which is probably true for any country. We participated on a tour run by Exodus Travel and you can see some of what we did on this blog post.
  • The cycle down from Mount Nebo (700 metres above sea level) where it is believed that Moses died to the Dead Sea (427 metres below sea level) is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

Extremely fun bike ride to the Dead Sea

  • There might be 50 facts more interesting than these but if you think so go to Jordan and let us know what they are. This is a sneaky challenge to get you to go to Jordan which is the whole point of these interesting facts.
  • OK, one more to make it 51 real facts since the last one wasn’t a fact: Jordanian people are really, really nice so go on over and meet some of these fine folks in their fine land. We highly recommend it.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The post 50 Fun Facts about the Country of Jordan appeared first on Hike Bike Travel.

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