Banff National Park: Hiking to Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots in Winter

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Looking down at the Lower Falls and the
bridge across Johnston Creek.
When my partner in crime and I started planning our trip to the Canadian Rockies, I knew I was going to have a tough time picking trails for the days we'd allotted for hiking. 

Banff National Park alone is home to 1600km (1000mi) of maintained trails! Of course, not all were options for us in winter, which helped us narrow things down.

We chose Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots for one of our hiking days for a number of reasons. It's easily accessible, short enough that we didn't have to get up at dawn, didn't require special equipment beyond Yaktrax, and would show us some spectacular scenery.

About Johnston Canyon and Getting to the Trailhead

Johnston Creek is a tributary of the Bow River, originating from a glacial valley to the northwest. As the creek flows closer to the Bow River, it flows through a deep canyon formed by years upon years of erosion.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Offchute Jacket

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Hanging out in the Catskills. (PC: D. Herscovitch)
When it comes to maximizing comfort and protection from winter winds and snow, choosing the right jacket for the slopes is crucial. And if you're anything like me or my typical ski buddies, you'll need a jacket that'll keep you warm and happy for hours of chilly outdoor fun without making you sweat when you're working your way down challenging runs.

As part of another season of the #ORinsightlab team, Outdoor Research provided me with a complimentary Women's Offchute Jacket to test. I took the Offchute out for winter hikes in Upstate New York, Alberta, and British Columbia, and for two solid days of beautiful skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort to see if it could function as my go-to winter jacket.


The Offchute Jacket is primarily designed for ski resort use, but it combines a key feature typically only found in high-end ski jackets with other features most resort skiers are looking for - stretch. The Outdoor Research team constructed a waterproof, windproof, fully seam-taped ski jacket that also moves with the wearer, and that stretch isn't something most standard ski jackets have.

Guest Post: Squashing Helpless and Hardcore, and Overcoming Insecurity as a Newbie

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Guest post author Trisha Cloutier.
Outdoor Women's Alliance (OWA) is an entirely volunteer-run nonprofit media and adventure collective promoting leadership and confidence for women through human-powered outdoor experiences. 

Since 2007, the organization has grown from one girl with a vision to 30 dedicated volunteers supporting 230,000 people worldwide.

Trisha Cloutier is the New England Team Leader for OWA, and today, she's sharing her experiences around learning, personal growth, and how OWA helped her understand the importance and value of women helping teach each other.

Have you ever wanted to try a new outdoor activity, but then felt stunted by the fear of being a newbie? Nobody wants to feel like a beginner or fail at something. It can be a stressful and vulnerable position to put yourself in, and can completely deter some people from ever trying.

I Cross Country Skied Alone in Colorado and It Was Awesome

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Solo adventures usually mean no pictures of me,
or awkward pictures of me using my camera's timer!
In the middle of January, my partner in crime and I flew to Colorado to go skiing. We picked Winter Park because (1) it was affordable to rent my friend's ski-in-ski-out condo, (2) she found a link on the resort's website for four-day lift tickets for $189 (!!!), and (3) because I've been to Winter Park twice in the summer, but never in the season it's named after.

After three days of skiing in ideal conditions on a massive mountain, two things became obvious. First, I was completely spoiled by our little ski-in-ski-out condo. I'm going to have a tough time staying overnight at a resort where I can't go directly from my bed to the slopes. Second, I didn't want to ski anymore.

Not forever, just on that trip. I was done. I called it early on the third day because I wasn't having fun anymore while my partner in crime kept skiing until the lifts closed. We both did what we wanted, and we both enjoyed the day. It was an ideal scenario for both of us.

Hiking Pennsylvania: Wind Gap to the Leroy A. Smith Shelter via the Appalachian Trail

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Rocks, rocks, everywhere!
A while back, I tried to standardize how I title my trip reports to make them easier to find and to use for anyone interested in trail details when they're planning their own trip. The syntax is generally "Activity Place: Trail Name."

When I started writing up a recent hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Pennsylvania, I toyed with a few non-standardized title options:
  • Hiking Pennsylvania: How to Trip on 5,000 Rocks While Hiking and Still Have Fun
  • Looking Down for Eight Miles of Walking Really Isn't That Bad
  • The Rockiest Section of Trail I've Ever Done
Anyone who's hiked in Pennsylvania, or read Bill Bryson's comments about Pennsylvania's section of the AT in A Walk in the Woods, knows we've got a few rocks here. I'm used to it, and even seek out rocky trails like the Pinnacle/Pulpit and Hawk Mountain because scrambling over boulders is fun. But this section of the AT, as friends and I discovered, is an entirely different ballgame.