Backpacking in Crowsnest Pass

Backpacking in the Canadian Rockies: What are Uplift’s backpacking trips all about?

A Q&A with our founder

Have you ever wanted to go on a really epic guided backpacking adventure?

Maybe you’re daydreaming about your first backpacking trip, or maybe you’ve been on a few and are itching for more (it happens to the best of us). Here at Uplift, we’re big fans of backpacking in Alberta’s South Canadian Rockies and the trips we offer are hand-crafted with explorers like you in mind.

Now, we invite you to get a taste of life on the trail with Uplift Adventures. Our writing team sat down with Uplift founder, Heather Davis, to hear about her drive to curate memorable backpacking trips, how she uncovers the sweetest camp spots, what it’s like to backpack with Uplift, and more.

Ready to jump into backpacking with Uplift Adventures? View all our guided multi-day backpacking trip options to find one that’s right for you.

Writing team (WT): First of all, tell us what’s new in backpacking trips with Uplift Adventures in 2023.

Heather Davis (HD): In 2023, we’re shaking things up by taking a step back to move forward. We’ve reduced the number of backpacking trips we offer to give more attention to other areas of our business that our fellow outdoors enthusiasts can’t get enough of—our courses.

But that’s not all, we’ve also fine-tuned some of our 2023 backpacking trips to make them even better. We’ve trimmed and tailored them to make them the perfect length, and selected the most breathtaking, off-the-beaten path destinations to make sure you have an unforgettable experience.

WT: What made you want to start Uplift Adventures?

HD: A lot of my background and history have to do with finding peace in the backcountry, so I became a professional guide because I love connecting people to the outdoors. I grew up on a farm and then lived in Edmonton for a while. Unfortunately, I experienced some traumatic events and what really helped me heal was reconnecting with the outdoors. I decided to go back to school and study biological sciences and environmental sciences to give back to something that I felt gave me so much. 

WT: What brought you down to the South Canadian Rockies and Crowsnest Pass?

HD: I moved to Crowsnest Pass for a job with Alberta Environment and Parks, where I ran the south section of the Backcountry Trails Flood Rehabilitation Program. This really helped me understand this area in a short period of time and find some special spots for hiking or camping.

DYK: We offer guided day hiking and backpacking tours around Crowsnest Pass, Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Parks, and Waterton Lakes National Park.

WT: How do your education and work experience with Alberta Environment enhance the backpacking experience Uplift Adventures provides?

HD: A large part of our job as certified guides is connecting people to the outdoors, so my knowledge of plants, animals, and landscapes helps me interpret our surroundings in the backcountry, everything from geology to history. 

WT: What’s your favourite part about adventuring outdoors?HD: I love that you don’t have a connection with the rest of the world when you’re in the backcountry. I notice a huge change in people when they come out on backpacking trips, even if it’s just two days. People sometimes start the trip feeling really stressed and then by the end of it, they just let go and are so relaxed and ready to conquer the week or go back to work. It’s like a reset button.

Are you interested in going backpacking, but don’t know where to start? Our Intro to Backpacking course has you covered. It aims to help boost your confidence in the outdoors, gain essential skills, and make informed decisions in the backcountry.

WT: What’s a backpacking trip with Uplift like?

HD: We offer several different multi-day backpacking trips and every single one of them has magnificent views and great people. I’ve never had anyone on a trip that isn’t an amazing human. Most of the trips feature stunning alpine lakes, which we either pass by on our hike or camp beside. 

A big part of backpacking with Uplift Adventures is that safety is always our number one priority, and fun is second. We include all the food and safety gear. The guide carries things like a satellite communication device, first aid kit, repair kit, and bear spray. A lot of the group gear is provided by our company as well, which includes cooking pots and utensils, fuel, and water filtration. If people don’t have their own gear like tents or sleeping bags or sleeping pads, they can rent them at a discounted rate from us.

WT: How do you decide the backpacking trip locations and routes?

HD: Each of our backpacking trips has been specially designed by our professional guides. We’ve spent hours and hours finding these locations in the backcountry so that we can take people off the beaten path, out into remote settings that aren’t very well known. I’ve spent a lot of time just exploring the backcountry around Crowsnest Pass, Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Parks, and Waterton Lakes National Park to find spots that have interesting features, like waterfalls, alpine lakes, caves, ridges, or aspects like that.

WT: Tell me about some of the guides, besides you, who lead multi-day backpacking trips for Uplift.

HD: We currently have seven guides for multi-day backpacking trips and they’re all certified with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, the highest standard in Canada. Each guide brings their own personal experiences and background.

Some of our guides, for example, have worked in the outdoor recreation industry for 15-plus years. We even have one guide who used to audit other guides. We have other guides who’ve lead paddle expeditions for a decade-plus, or taught at the University of Calgary in their outdoor education programs. We even have one guide whose area of expertise is snow science, so she has her own company and she teaches avalanche safety in the winter.

We really have attracted a lot of the best of the best in the region, and that’s a huge compliment to me that they want to be a part of Uplift Adventures.

WT: What does it mean to be certified with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG)?

HD: Certified guides have been vetted through a very rigorous training system and are regulated by the ACMG. It’s the equivalent of any sort of profession where someone’s gone to school, studied, written exams, and passed courses. At Uplift, all of our guides are certified either with the ACMG or the Interpretive Guides Association, or both. For me, it was a three-year process to get fully certified as a hiking guide with the ACMG.

WT: What are the benefits of joining a hike or a backpacking trip with a certified guide?

HD: Knowledge and safety are the two biggest things that you’ll receive with a professional guide. I would expect a certain standard when going with a certified guide. With the Interpretive Guides Association, it’s really heavily focused on interpretation and having certain knowledge standards, while the ACMG focuses heavily on safety, group management, and navigation. It’s definitely a process to get certified, but you can’t beat the professional credibility, reputation, and knowledge of exploring with a professional guide.

Not sure what to pack on a multi-day backpacking trip? Our checklist can help you prioritize the essentials.

WT: You’ve done them all, so what’s your favourite backpacking trip that Uplift offers?

HD: It changes every year! But I’d have to say The Karst is my favourite one right now. It’s just so fun and there’s so much to see on this trip. We get to explore some little caves and swimming holes. We have amazing views and a really cool landscape.

WT: Do you have any tips for someone interested in booking a trip?

HD: The biggest thing I recommend is that people match themselves up with the right trip. We offer trips of various length and difficulty, so there’s something to fit almost anyone’s physical ability. For example, if you’ve never done a backpacking trip before, our Intro to Backpacking course would be perfect for you! Those are specially designed for beginners.

If anyone has questions about how challenging a trip is, they can always message me on Facebook or email us and we can set them up with the right trip because at the end of the day, we want to see people succeed and enjoy themselves.

Ready to get backpacking? Learn more about the various backpacking trips offered by Uplift and see which adventures are coming up this summer.

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