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Stumbing around the Rockies
Successful club has unlikely beginning
MY MOM HAs CALLED ME “Grace” for as long as I can I had no idea what a kilometre was or how many of them you
remember, and no, it’s not one of those nice nicknames. It’s one of could reasonably walk in an hour or a day. Was an eight-kilometre
the ironic ones. Despite taking dance classes since I was four years hike really challenging, or was it a sissy stroll? It sounded pretty
old I still have more than my fair share of episodes of clumsiness hardcore to me.
and have always been more of a, shall we say, ‘bookish’ person My first hikes with the COC could be described as gong-show,
than a natural athlete. what-not-to-do examples. The very first one, which included
Which, I think you’ll agree, makes me an unlikely candidate to simply Bridget and I, was a May trip to Jumpingpound Loop west
have been the founder of the wildly successful and popular Calgary of Calgary in the sibbald Flats area, with melting, boggy spring
Outdoor Club, which is now entering its sixth year with more than terrain and stream crossings for which we were ill-prepared. Does
4,000 members, over 100 volunteers, and averaging more than a hike with just you and your friend even constitute a club event?
150 events per month. I don’t think so either, but there it is, still proudly standing on our
In the early 2000s, I had been lightly involved in the Atlanta May 2003 calendar.
Outdoor Club, which was started by a friend of mine, but The second club hike, to Grotto Canyon near Canmore, included
truthfully, my main involvement was in programming its website. another of my pre-club friends and (how exciting) another
I rarely participated in the activities up until just before I returned person who was one of the first legitimate club members. It turns
to Calgary after my out Grotto Canyon is
brief time in Atlanta. not hikeable in spring.
As I settled back into The trickling stream of
life in Calgary I realized summer was a raging
I missed the AOC, torrent and as we tried,
specifically some of unsuccessfully, to find
the friends I’d made, a passable route, I
and missed having an wondered why it had been
active social circle. I recommended as an ‘easy’
tried to find a club in hike.
Calgary that would fill The third hike, to a place
that need in my life, called Fir Creek Point
but after a year and a south of Black Diamond,
half of searching (and rather than being an
complaining about not actual hike was more of a
finding one), I finally ‘wander’ – up and down
bit the bullet and the parking lot, glancing
posted a new website wistfully across the raging
for a “Calgary Outdoor river at the hiking trail
Club” (a knock-off, of on the other side and
course, of the Atlanta wondering how we were
club’s site). Then I supposed to get over
pressured a few of my there. Finally we gave up
friends to join my new and went to the bakery for
club-of-one and posted a couple of easy events. coffee and Nanaimo bars in nearby Black Diamond instead.
Hiking, though, never occurred to me. I was more interested in Things slowly got better for me (and consequently, the COC)
rollerblading, river tubing (which I’d enjoyed in Atlanta), and going with hiking, but thank goodness we started getting a few more –
to Race City speedway (you can take the girl out of Red Deer, ahem – knowledgeable people to start coordinating some hikes.
but you can’t take the Red Deer out of the girl). I was so naïve Not that the COC is a ‘hiking’ club. Thanks to the great volunteers
about the outdoor scene in Calgary that I had no idea that hiking we’ve accumulated, the club also offers scrambles, backpacking,
was actually a ‘big thing’ here. The mountains were something mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, rollerblading, snowshoeing,
I enjoyed, but like too many Calgarians, I enjoyed them through cross-country skiing… the list just goes on. But hiking is a COC
my windshield on my way to work or Vancouver. It was my friend staple, and amazingly it has become a passion for me as I go
Bridget who suggested offering a hike as an activity and rather stumbling around the Rockies. (That's Rhonda on the right :-)
than risk being a stick-in-the-mud I thought OK, I’ll try a hike.
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