Armed with a brand-new satellite communication device from Canmore's own Valhalla Pure Outfitters, a practical yet fun Christmas present, we needed an excuse to test it out in the “real world” of no-cell-service. So off to Kananaskis we drove! Since much of this area is outside of network coverage, it was the perfect opportunity to test the device’s check-in and messaging capabilities while going on a little winter adventure.
We geared up for the cold, packed our snowshoes and ice fishing gear, and hit the road. The weather was unseasonably warm, but a recent dump of snow meant the trails were in the perfect condition for a mid-day snowshoe to explore a new fishing spot. We weren’t disappointed.
The drive was magical. The trees were heavy with the snowfall and everything sparkled in the sunshine. We timed our adventure to work against the traffic, and the morning-goers were leaving as we were arriving, which made for an easy drive.
Along the way, we pulled over to send check-ins to our family back east. With the pandemic dragging on and adding to the time we couldn’t spend together, we found this to be a surprisingly interactive form of communication. They were able to track our journey into the woods and chime in with some not-always-helpful advice along the way.
Despite the recent 40+ centimetres of snow, the trails were well-used from people taking advantage of winter holidays and sunny, warm conditions. We loaded the gear into the sled and set off on foot. The walk through the trees was easy enough, and the wind-swept lake made the snowshoe across the ice light and breezy. We paused for a few photos along the way, and of course sent our check-ins back home for our families to follow along.
We spent the afternoon drilling holes, loading fishing lines and trying to get a bite. No luck. You get skunked sometimes, especially when trying new areas based on previous knowledge, depth charts and a lifelong study of fish behaviour. But we didn’t feel cheated in any way. It was a wonderful afternoon for a beautiful snowshoe into the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies. And as an added bonus, we got to play with our new Christmas toy!
If you’re heading into the mountains this winter, we strongly recommend getting prepared with avalanche safety training. Check the weather and the trail conditions before you go, and make sure someone knows where you are, who you’re with and when you’re expected to return. For more safety tips, check out this article, written with help from Lisa Paulson, Visitor Safety Specialist for Parks Canada.