Fitzhugh review



After spend­ing many hours explor­ing the Cana­di­an Rock­ies, writer Lynn Mar­tel has just released her sec­ond book ded­i­cat­ed to the “world’s great­est playground.”Martel grew up in Mon­tre­al and moved west in the 1980s. She is a pop­u­lar Fitzhugh con­trib­u­tor and her writ­ing has been pub­lished in many oth­er news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Her lat­est book, Tales & Trails: Adven­tures for Every­one in the Cana­di­an Rock­ies, was released last month and fea­tures 20 sto­ries of adven­ture, along with pho­tos, maps, dif­fi­cul­ty rat­ings, sea­son­al details and gen­er­al infor­ma­tion for those who love the outdoors.“This book, my sec­ond book, (my first was Expe­di­tion to the Edge: Sto­ries of World­wide Adven­ture, RMB 2008), is all about the Rock­ies, and about how this fab­u­lous part of Cana­da is the world’s great­est play­ground,” says Mar­tel. “I mean that though, in the old fash­ioned, go out­side, dis­cov­er the mir­a­cles of every­thing that is not man-made kind of way.”Martel says the 20 sto­ries of adven­ture cov­er a wide range of dif­fer­ent adven­tures peo­ple can expe­ri­ence in this region, from hik­ing on nation­al park trails, stay­ing in rus­tic back­coun­try huts, ski­ing across glac­i­ers and even camp­ing in ‑30 C, cav­ing deep inside a moun­tain, rock climb­ing up a steep cliff, pad­dling the length of Maligne Lake and even cycling the Ice­fields Park­way from Jasper to Banff. “The sto­ries are a mix of my adven­tures, sto­ries of oth­er peo­ples’ adven­tures and some his­to­ry and the cul­ture of this place, the Cana­di­an Rock­ies,” she says. “Then with each sto­ry, which all hap­pen in dif­fer­ent lit­tle pock­ets of the Rock­ies, I’ve sug­gest­ed a whole bunch of ways peo­ple can expe­ri­ence their own self-pro­pelled out­door adven­tures at their own lev­el – fam­i­ly friend­ly, sweat a lit­tle, sweat a lot and bust a lung! And if you’re not sure how, hire a pro­fes­sion­al guide.”Martel says that writ­ing about the Rock­ies is real­ly what inspired her to write the book in the first place. The sto­ries for her lat­est book were writ­ten over a peri­od of sev­er­al years and all but two have been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished. The end result was a col­lec­tion of her favourite sto­ries about explor­ing the Rock­ies back­coun­try and wilder­ness.

After liv­ing in the Rock­ies for about 27 years, I look at these moun­tains and see a zil­lion sto­ries of peo­ple, wildlife, spec­tac­u­lar untouched places that hard­ly any­one ever sees, and I want­ed to share that world with my read­ers, and hope­ful­ly inspire them to get off the pave­ment and seek out their own adven­tures, whether for half an hour or a month,” she says. “I remem­ber well, though, hav­ing grown up in the super urban world of Mon­tre­al, how when I first start­ed liv­ing in Banff full-time in 1984, look­ing at the moun­tains and won­der­ing not just what might be down that val­ley or over that pass, but how one could pos­si­bly go to those places. I’m hop­ing the book opens the win­dow a bit for read­ers – locals and tourists alike. Most­ly, I want­ed to cre­ate a book that could help peo­ple look at the moun­tains and see more than just giant hunks of rock.”

The sto­ries are all non-fic­tion, says Mar­tel, and absolute­ly true.

I am inca­pable of writ­ing fic­tion, my mind just does not makes stuff up,” she admits. “They take place in 20 lit­tle dif­fer­ent cor­ners of the Rock­ies, kind of fol­low­ing the route our tourists dri­ve, from Mount Yam­nus­ka at the east­ern gate­way to the Rock­ies on the Trans Cana­da, out to Yoho and north on the Ice­fields Park­way to Jasper and Rob­son.”

These sto­ries are not just about the moun­tains, she adds.

There are so many peo­ple who have cho­sen to make the Rock­ies home who are involved in fan­tas­tic, inter­est­ing and worth­while pur­suits and projects, that I find there is an end­less rich­ness for me to write about, to share.”

Mar­tel first vis­it­ed the Rock­ies in 1982, but her first real explor­ing trip start­ed on a moun­tain bike around 1985.

Quite sim­ply, I am in love with the nat­ur­al land­scape. I am fas­ci­nat­ed by every tree, flower, grouse, pine marten, moose, every ice­fall, high alpine tarn and bub­bling creek,” she mus­es. “I need to trav­el through the land­scape, over that pass, down that val­ley, up that moun­tain, across that glac­i­er. It’s just all so end­less­ly inter­est­ing and amaz­ing.”

When dis­cussing her favourite spot to hike, camp or have an adven­ture, Mar­tel says she has dozens.

The top five in the Rock­ies are Mount Alber­ta (ACC Lloyd MacK­ay Hut) – off trail hik­ing; Lit­tle Yoho Val­ley – hik­ing, moun­taineer­ing and ski tour­ing; the Wap­ta Ice­fields – ski tour­ing; Fortress Lake – back­pack­ing; Mount Willingdon/Pipestone Pass – backpacking/scrambling.

It was while on assign­ment for an area news­pa­per – to cov­er a pre­sen­ta­tion by wildlife pho­tog­ra­ph­er John Mar­riott who told sto­ries to go with his pho­tos – that Mar­tel decid­ed she would try her hand at anoth­er book.

I real­ized I had quite a few sto­ries already that togeth­er told a big­ger sto­ry of this place, so the ham­ster start­ed run­ning,” she says. The deci­sion to add in the trip sug­ges­tions came late last sum­mer. “That turned out to be quite fun though, because as I put all those trip sug­ges­tions togeth­er, I real­ized just how many places I’ve explored in the Rock­ies over the past 27 years, and how much I’ve learned about this place. It was super fun to share that.”

Mar­tel says that she has had a love for writ­ing since she was 11 years old.

For me writ­ing is like breath­ing; I can­not not do it. It is how I process my expe­ri­ences and over time it has become my place in my com­mu­ni­ty, because I write so much about my home, the Rock­ies. I don’t only write about adven­ture, but also moun­tain his­to­ry, cul­ture, peo­ple pro­files, and moun­tain relat­ed sci­ence such as glaciol­o­gy and hydrol­o­gy, and also about fresh­wa­ter issues, which I find quite com­pelling.”

As for her future plans for writ­ing, aside from her free­lanc­ing gigs, Mar­tel says she is explor­ing the idea of writ­ing a part two, Tales & Trails: More Adven­tures in the Cana­di­an Rock­ies.

I’m not a five-year plan kind of per­son, I like to be open to oppor­tu­ni­ties and ideas as they come to me – and I always have more than I can pos­si­bly accom­plish in one life­time,” she says. Her plans for more adven­tures are “north, north, north! Pad­dle the Nahan­ni past the Cirque of the Unclimbables, back­pack and climb an easy route in Baf­fin Island, sea kayak in the Arc­tic, the list nev­er ends.”

Martel’s new book, Tales & Trails: Adven­tures for Every­one in the Cana­di­an Rock­ies can be found in Jasper at Sun­wap­ta Falls Resort, Jasper Cam­era and Gift, Jasper Tramway, Maligne Canyon Tea House and Friends of Jasper.