There are certain things/rituals/events that are quintessentially North American and for me, Thanksgiving is definitely one of them. Having never celebrated it before my only knowledge was that a giant roasted bird is involved and you get a day off work. Naturally I was very excited.
The weekend started off with some casual drinks and a bit of frisbee golf in Fernie (a delightful version of the club wielding game with a frisbee substitute). There’s not much to it really, line yourself up at the “tee”, choose your disc (there are drivers, mid range and putters) and then launch it over/under hand towards the giant metallic bucket. Apart from trying to throw in the general direction of the hole, the only other requirements are that you don’t spill your beer or decapitate someone near you xena style ayayayayayayeeeee. Minimally strenuous and with some nice weather, it was a good way to start the weekend.
So frisbee golf was fun but with the amount of food about to be consumed over the weekend, Marcus and I decided to up the physicality and tick another hike off the list. Crows Nest mountain was the destination, about 45 minutes outside of Fernie off the 3 highway towards Calgary. We had driven past several times on our other camping journeys and always thought it would be an amazing hike, and we weren’t wrong.
After a short drive on a dirt road off the highway, we were at the trail head where we were joined by a Canadian couple from Alberta. Luckily they were the only people we saw the whole day and had the whole trail to enjoy for ourselves. We set off pretty quickly up through some steep forested trails as the weather was overcast and quite cold.
Within 45 minutes of some pretty mellow climbing and “hooping” calls to ward off any wildlife, we had cleared the tree line and come out into open fields of loose rock and gravel which afforded some great views of the surrounding mountains. We continued upwards, having to backtrack at times as the path was not always clear and some strong winds had blown over the rock markers/cairns.
The next couple hours of the hike were pretty hard going but extremely enjoyable. There were steep sections which involved scrambling, climbing and the use of some chain ropes. Although still an easy hike by mountain goat standards, it was still the most technical thing we had done all summer and were chuffed to make it to the top without finding it too strenuous.
Once at the top, we had about 5 minutes of sunny weather to get some nice photos, leave our mark on the rocks and enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains before a gale forced weather system blew in. We were forced to batten down on one side of the mountain in a little smeagol cave where we hurriedly put on some more layers (picture Sanka Coffie from “Cool Runnings”). We were able to weather the worst of it and have some lunch, however when we both started shaking uncontrollably trying to eat some tostitos we decided it was time to head down.
We hiked down with the Canadian couple that we had seen at the start, partly for company but mainly for safety and to ensure we didn’t unleash a sumo sized boulder that would clean each other up. Luckily after 20 minutes of descent the weather had cleared and we were able to enjoy some screeing in the loose gravel which got us down in no time. All up, with a 30 minute break at the top, we had completed the hike in just over 5 hours which we were pretty happy with.
There’s nothing like a big meal after a hike and the Thanksgiving pot luck that we had organised for the evening hit the spot. My contribution was some roast veggies and home made bbq meatballs which seemed to be a hit. Everybody loved my balls. There were other tasty dishes as well that I’d never had before such as candied yams and the infamous pumpkin pie, all which accompanied a great turkey cooked by Mandy. It was an epic meal shared with great people and capped off a memorable first Thanksgiving.