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Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

Exeter GB
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Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

I'd dearly like to take one of the guided hikes to see the Burgess Shales near Field in Yoho NP. The NP information suggests these can be quite strenuous - can anyone who had done this give advice? (I am averagely fit for an adult. )

1. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

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Removed on: 10:24 am, February 10, 2011
Jasper, Canada
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2. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

The Parks Canada page for these hikes says "Hikes are long and strenuous and may not be for all people." pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/natcul/natcul15.aspx Twenty km with that kind of elevation gain and loss is a BIG day.

If by "average fitness", you mean that you do aerobic exercise a few hours a week (hiking or running or a step-machine or similar), then you will probably be able to manage either of these hikes and enjoy it - although you will likely be hardly able to move the next day or two, unless you do some other hiking with uphills and downhills before this. The uphill portion will really work your calves, and the downhill portion will have your quads screaming the next day (which you will notice any time you walk down stairs!)

If by "average fitness", you mean that you live a lifestyle that includes a bit of walking or biking as part of your day-to-day activities, but no actual "working out", then I think you will really suffer during, and after, either of these hikes.

I have never done either of the Burgess Shale hikes, but the Mt. Stephen fossil beds hike is similar to the Sulphur Skyline hike at Miette Hot Springs in terms of elevation gain (although the distance is shorter, thus the fossil beds hike is steeper) - this is a hike I do every summer, but I "work up to it" before I do it. Most of the popular day hikes in the Rockies, which would be considered "moderate" would have in the range of 1000 to 1500 feet of elevation gain, over 4 to 6 km (and then the same elevation loss over that same distance as you hike back out). This would include hikes such as the Plain of Six Glaciers, Larch Valley, Eiffel Lake, Opal Hills, Wilcox Pass, Cavell Meadows etc.

I looked up your profile and am at the young end of the same age bracket as you and have lived and hiked in the Rockies for 30+ years. I consider myself of average fitness - I snowshoe, skate and cross-country ski a few hours a week through the winter, and hike, walk and bike in the summer. I am hoping to do some hiking in Yoho this summer, and possibly one of these hikes - but I would be "training" beforehand by making sure to do several "moderate" hikes in the couple of weeks before either of these, and would probably also try to get in a longer day - 15 to 20 km.

Also, I don't know how far ahead these book up but I would not want to do the 20 km hike unless the weather was half decent. Occasional rain or snow showers are one thing on a long day out (pretty much a given when hiking in the Rockies, unless you get lucky with the weather), but an entire day of being pelted with precipitation makes for a cold, miserable day (there is no such thing as a "warm rain" in the Rockies) - and no views, which is a shame after working so hard for all the elevation gain!

Edited: 1:49 pm, January 16, 2011
Banff, Canada
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3. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

I would definitely agree with KRP's assessment of these hikes. Be honest with yourself about how frequently in the past couple of years you've done something this strenuous (this much distance, this much elevation gain), and how you felt afterwards, and make your decision accordingly. If the answer is "Not once", then start training now! You don't want to find your knees giving you grief for the rest of your trip, for example.

Exeter GB
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4. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

Thank you all for your rather sobering assessents. I was actually thinkiing more in terms of the more manageable (?) Burgess hike to to the Mount Stephen Fossil Beds which the Parks Canada website says is 'a moderate 6-kilometre round-trip hike that takes about 7 hours to complete. Elevation gain is 780 metres (2559 feet).'

Sechelt, BC
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5. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

Besides fitness level think about your feet. If you don't have hiking boots buy some now and begin breaking them in. Breaking in your boots can be part of your training program.

Banff, Canada
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6. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

2559 feet in 3 kilometres is not long, but it's pretty steep. Think of it as comparable to slowly climbing stairs up for a couple of hours, resting whenever you need to, then back down at the end of the day. That should help you decide whether you're ready for it right now, or should do some preparation.

We're not trying to talk you out of it, we're just encouraging you to be sure you get prepared, so that you can enjoy both the hike and the rest of your vacation.

edmonton canada
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7. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

I have just completed the Burgess Shale hike, which can be considered a "grunt" hike that an "averagely fit adult" would find difficult to make. I will preface this comment by stating that I had made a number of smaller hikes, including the Sulphur Skyline hike at Miette Hot Springs, the Lake MacArthur hike and the north to south trail-head hike of the Wilcox Pass including several similarly moderate rated hikes as preparation for the the Burgess Shale hike. Furthermore, I run 8-10 km on average every second day. Although I am in relatively good shape, and am conditioned to tackle the Burgess Shale hike, I found the 10+ hours of hard ascent/descent, with a small pack, somewhat fatiguing. That being said, even the fit 27 year old hikers in our group found the hike tiring. Consequently, like the posters above, I would encourage you to physically prepare yourself before you consider taking on this 22 kilometer (13.75 mile) round-trip hike, which requires you to climb approximately 760 meters (2508 feet) vertically and then the same distance back down, along the exact path you took coming up. Be sure you are prepared and then have fun. The views are spectacular.

8. Re: Burgess Shale guided hikes - how strenuous?

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Removed on: 5:16 am, August 03, 2013