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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Dont Waste Your Time Canadian Rockies > Owner Review by Andrea Murland

Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
The Opinionated Hiking Guide
by Kathy & Craig Copeland

Owner Review by Andrea Murland
October 31, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 29
Location: Elkford & Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
Image Courtesy of hikingcamping.com
Book Cover

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Product Information

Title: Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies: The Opinionated Hiking Guide
Authors: Kathy & Craig Copeland
Publisher: hikingcamping.com, inc.
Publisher's URL: www.hikingcamping.com
Published: 2009
Edition: 6th
ISBN: 978-0-9783427-5-3
MSRP: CAD 37.00
Measured Size: 21.7 cm x 14.1 cm x 2.54 cm (8.5 in x 5.6 in x 1.0 in)
Measured Weight: 802 g (28.3 oz)
Pages: 544

Description

“Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies” is a full-colour hiking guide focused on the National Parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains: Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Waterton Lakes National Parks. The book also has hikes in a couple of Provincial Parks which border the National Parks. 138 hikes are detailed in this book, and each is rated as “Premier”, “Outstanding”, “Worthwhile”, or “Don’t Do”. The hike ratings are based primarily on the scenic value of the trip. The higher rated trips have the most spectacular scenery, and sustained views throughout the hike. As the rating decreases, the views either become less stunning, or for a shorter portion of the hike, or both.

Field Conditions

I have hiked fifteen of the 138 hikes in this book (I have some work to do…). I usually photocopy the pages that I need for a hike I’m doing, as the book is rather heavy to carry. The book is standing up to the abuse of being tossed around the car and campsite reasonably well though, with only a few dog-eared pages.

Layout

The organization of this guidebook centers around each hike being assigned a “trip number”. The hikes are organized in the book in order of rating, with dayhikes coming earlier in the book, followed by backpacking trips, and finally shoulder-season trips. Within each of these categories the hikes are listed with the “Premier” hikes coming first and the “Don’t Do” hikes coming last.

The book starts with a series of overview maps, showing each park and the hikes within it. The map shows the numbers of the hikes, and a list on the side has each hike listed with its trip number (matching the map), and rating.

Overview Map for Waterton Lakes
Overview Map

The next main section that’s of use is called “Trips At a Glance”. This listing has the hikes in the order in which they appear in the book, and each line lists the trip number, the hike name, the round trip distance, and the elevation gain. The rating of the hike is shown in a heading before that section of the list. This list does not show the page number that a hike can be found on; all navigation is done by trip number.
Part of "Trips at a Glance"
Trips at a Glance

The last part of the introduction includes some information on reasons why some hikes have been excluded from the book, good rainy-day hikes, permits, wildlife, and hiking safety. Details Box

The main part of the book, the hike descriptions, start with dayhikes, then move to backpacking trips and finally shoulder season hikes. Each description starts with a box of useful information, as follows:
  • Location
  • Round Trip Distance
  • Elevation Gain
  • Key Elevations
  • Hiking Time
  • Difficulty (easy/moderate/challenging)
  • Maps (page of Trip Map, topo map sheets, Park maps)
Following the box is an “Opinion” section, which contains a variety of information, depending on the hike. It usually indicates why a hike has been given the rating it has, either through gushing about the scenery or informing the reader that there is a long, relatively boring section to the hike. It may give some local history, some information about the trail, the destination, and the views. This section is why this book is called an “Opinionated Guide”. After the “Opinion” section is a “Fact” section. Driving directions are listed first, and give directions to the trailhead, with distances, from major landmarks. Trail directions are listed next, and include not only directions required to successfully navigate the hike, but also information (and often elevations and distances) for key points, like ridges, saddles, and viewpoints. This section often comments on the type of forest, interesting landscape features, and what features can be seen in the views.
Helen Lake Hike Description
Hike Description

At the end of the book, there is a section of Trip Maps. These maps are very general, with no topographical features. They show the general location of trails and major landmarks, but not much else.
Trip Map
Trip Map

My Thoughts

I love the ratings in this book. There are a lot of hiking options in the Rockies, and the opinions of the authors here can help me narrow down the hikes that I want to do first, since I have a limited time to hike in the areas (I don’t live very close to most of them). If a hike with a lower rating catches my interest anyway, reading the description of the hike will tell me why it was assigned a lower rating, and if I don’t mind, for example, a long slog through steep forest, at least I won’t be surprised by it on the hike.

I like the “Trips at a Glance” pages and overview maps of the parks, as they allow me to look at what hikes are in an area I’m interested in and then quickly get a sense of whether any of those hikes fall into the distance or elevation targets I’m looking for. Once I’ve narrowed down the field of hikes, the boxes at the start of each description can tell me a few more details to narrow it down further before reading the full descriptions.

I have never gotten lost while trying to find a trailhead or while on a trail. That’s a good thing! Granted, most of these trails, being in the National Parks, are pretty well marked, or at least well-travelled and easy to find. I find the difficulty ratings of the hikes and the expected hiking time to be pretty accurate. I usually fall on the lower end of the times, which is typical for me and guidebooks.

While this book does have a variety of overview maps, none of them offers any topographical details that would make them even the slightest bit useful for even basic navigation. I certainly don’t expect maps which would replace a full topographical map, but even a few contour lines would help to see where in a hike most of the elevation gain is, for example.

I love the beautiful, full-colour photos taken by the authors and included in the book. They’re stunning!

Helen Lake/Cirque Peak Hike (these are my photos)
Helen Lake

Summary

“Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies” is an “Opinionated Hiking Guide” which offers not only the factual details about the hikes described, but also the authors’ opinions about the scenery and the quality of the hike. This helps this guidebook stand out amongst the many books about hiking in the Canadian Rockies National Parks.

Thumbs Up:
Accurate hiking and driving details
Opinion ratings
Layout is easy to browse while planning
Beautiful photos

Thumbs Down:
No contour lines on maps
No page numbers, just trip numbers used on “Trips at a Glance” page



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