Last night I dreamed of the Canadian Rockies. I saw snow-capped peaks, craggy cliffs that drop into alpine lakes and a home to a myriad of magnificent animals like moose, mountain sheep and the stately grizzly bear.
I was flying in this dream, not by way of my Mountain Man wings, but in a helicopter. The sound of the chopper overhead pushed the machine through the scattered clouds above the mountainous terrain.
As if I were at the controls, I took the helicopter over high ridges, down narrow valleys and around imposing peaks. I’ve never flown a helicopter in my life, but it was very simple. I flew over Lake Louise, over Banff and turned north. There I was following the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper National Park.
The Athabasca Glacier was but an ice cube from 10,000 feet above!
Suddenly I started to get closer to the mountains, quickly downward into the valley. I land the chopper and suddenly Im surrounded by well dressed tourists ready to hike. No cars, no parking lots, no buildings, just me and the tourists. One of them turns to me and says “This heli-hiking business is great.”
Then I realized what I had done.
I had called Jasper-based Overlander Trekking and Tours and was in the middle of nowhere, among the glaciers, on a heli-hiking tour. Skipping the 20 plus kilometer hike, heli-hiking has its advantages.
A typical heli-hiking outing will take visitors up to high altitudes (9,000-10,000ft) where within less than an hour, hikers can visit rarely nature panoramas different from those seen from scenic highways and byways.
“So with a helicopter you get rid of the long approach to get yourself into the alpine environment above the trees. You’re getting the best possible bang for your buck as far as time spent in the mountains,” Trevor Lescard, a guide for Jasper-based Overlander Trekking and Tours, explains.
So when a dream does not suffice, if youi can afford the $575 per person day trip, there should be nothing standing in the way. Unless, you are one of those hikers who likes the idea of working and sweating in order to reach the goal. (There is something sweet about hiking six hours to reach a high alpine lake, taking a drink and relaxing under the summer sun)
On the other hand, there are the national parks overrun with crowded day-hikers… a helicopter can change all of that.