What used to be a care-free summer break now demands both our attention and our vaccination.
But if you’re screaming not only to travel again, but see how soothingly gorgeous your own country is, join Jean and me from August 23rd through 27th for one of the easiest and most exhilarating adventures anywhere – heli-hiking in BC.
No skill or endurance is needed. Just a sense of pent-up adventure and a desire to smell the wild roses again. And just as there are no conditioning or skill requirements, there are no age limits either. You can be 18 or 81 and you’ll be enlivened by the entire experience. You can also be a marathon runner or a mountain climber. Or you can be wearing your Medic Alert bracelet the entire trip, as five of us recently did. You can bring your partner, your grandkids, your bestie (though not your beastie). And from door-to-door, the whole amazing experience is just five summer days.
So what is heli-hiking?
It’s letting a helicopter take us up to Bobbie Burns Lodge deep in the Purcell Mountains in BC to vistas, peaks and valleys that people simply don’t get to, or would have to slog for days to reach. We stay at the lodge for four nights and hike for three full days. Late each afternoon we’ll return to one of the most relaxing and scenic hot-tubs in the world. Then it’s a snooze, drinks and a stupendous dinner. Don’t even try to lose weight on this trip.
But even better than the scenery and the meals is the company. There will be just 24 of us, all of us Canadians (only because we’re not sure the border will open for Americans by this summer) and all of us make up our own private group. What’s more, we’ll all be vaccinated, a state each of us will be responsible for ensuring.
The trips are run by Canadian Mountain Holidays, the people who invented the sport of heli-skiing, and the art of heli-hiking. CMH has been persistently declared “The Best Adventure Travel Company on Earth” by the National Geographic Society.
This year’s trip will be different from other years.
We usually overnight at a hotel in Banff after landing in Calgary and then head out the next day to the helipad. This summer, however, we’ll be met directly at Calgary International Airport by a CMH bus for the three and a half-hour ride directly to the helipad near Invermere, B.C. for the 20-minute flight to the Lodge.
The adventure starts when our bus leaves Calgary International at 12 pm. on Monday, August 23rd. We arrive at the Lodge late that afternoon and get ready for the next three days of hiking our hearts out. On the morning of Friday, August 27th, we fly back down to the bus and then head directly to Calgary International for our late afternoon flights back to Toronto.
Heli-hiking is never cheap (a huge part of the cost is the helicopter itself). But this year, it will be even less so because while the Lodge usually holds 48 people, CMH is limiting it to 24 this summer. The cost is $5,200 plus tax per person. This is double occupancy and basically includes everything from the minute we’re met at Calgary International until the minute we’re dropped back there four days later. In other words, heli-hiking, all meals and accommodation, guiding, even free use of hiking boots and raingear. The only extras are your bar charges, anything you buy in the Lodge Shop and any gratuity you’re inspired to leave the staff. And fear not, you technocrats: the Lodge has free hi-speed WiFi so you can get online and do your e-mail.
As for the value of the trip, have a look here. Indeed, heli-hiking has been called a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I gather it’s not nearly so much fun after your lifetime.
So if you’re resolved this year of all years to finally and decisively get out and make time to discover parts of the world – and yourself – you haven’t had a chance to move to the front of your life, here’s your chance. Grab it now.
Remember, there are only 24 places. Jean and I are already in. So, make that 22.
First, let me know you want to join us. Then call Graeme McIsaac at CMH at 403-762-7100 and tell him you’re with the Bob&Jean Group. He’ll take your credit card information and go over the payment, cancellation and refund details that apply particularly to this still-COVID summer.
Basically, they’re this: if CMH has to cancel the trip for any reason at all, you will get a full refund. If you have to cancel the trip for any reason at all, you will get a full refund up to June 14, 2021. It’s all spelled out in CMH’s Peace of Mind Policy.
We leave it to you to make your own air bookings to and from Calgary, and of course, to get vaccinated in advance.
Remember, the bus leaves promptly at 12 pm Calgary time on Monday, August 23rd. So be sure to book a flight that leaves Toronto early that morning (or arrive the night before). As for your trip home, please only book flights east that leave after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27th just in case there’s roadwork or rockslides on the highway coming back from the Lodge.
One last thing to remember: lots of people go to the mountains; a few stay in the mountains. We’re going to be on the mountains.
So yes, Heaven can wait. But can you?