“This is the world’s greatest playground and people do come from all over the world to see the Canadian Rockies,” Martel said, adding the Rockies are very accessible to anyone who wants to go out and have an adventure of any level.
Martel abandoned her hometown of Montreal for the Bow Valley 27 years ago, swapping the nightclub lifestyle of the mid-1980s for a life of adventure.
At first content to simply look at the mountains, she found – like so many people do – that they called to her, enticing her off the pavement and onto the dirt paths to discover what was around the corner.
And as she explored, she also began to explore the unique history and culture of the Mountain West, which she began to share as a reporter, freelance writer and author, with her first book, Expeditions to the Edge: Stories of Worldwide Adventure, published in 2008.
“I’m hoping that anybody who reads the book can look at (the mountains) differently, not just as physical structures, but as an interactive landscape where anyone can go and make their own stories.”
And to do so is actually quite simple.
Even though a few of the adventures Martel shares in Tales & Trails are more burly than the average person might want to undertake, Martel has taken great pains to help travelers understand that exploring a glacier, climbing a mountain or taking on a multi-day cycling tour are actually quite feasible by joining a tour or hiring a mountain guide.
“You don’t have to be a marathon runner to walk on the glacier for an hour with a guide. These mountains are full of people who have devoted their professional lives to sharing their landscape. They have tons to share.”
But overall, the majority of the adventures profiled in Tales & Trails can be experienced from any level.
For example, she said climbing Mt. Robson isn’t the only way to experience the highest peak in the Rockies; walking the trails at the base of the mountain can be sufficient as a way to appreciate that place.
As part of the guidebook aspect, Martel includes family-friendly and beginner options, as well as challenging double and triple black diamond options.
Martel also uses Tales & Trails to share the region’s history, but instead of going back a century or more – a period that has been well covered – Martel takes a smaller step backwards to tell stories of the more recent history, such as the rise of modern rock climbing in the Rockies.
Martel loves the Rockies and it shows.
Her enthusiasm is infectious and she wants to share what she has discovered with others, while encouraging them to find their own piece of paradise in the Rockies along the way.
“These mountains are the world’s greatest natural playground and they are so full of fascinating stories of different adventures people have every day of the year. There’s a fascinating and exciting history of people exploring and playing in these mountains, not just 100 years ago, but last weekend. There are so many different kinds of self-propelled outdoor adventures everyone can have, no matter what their level of fitness or experience, you just have to start by getting out of the car and heading up a trail, winter or summer,” she said.
But be patient – it can take a lifetime to discover this place.
“I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I’m just getting started,” Martel said.
Telling stories about the history, culture and human life connected to the Rockies is rich ground as Martel said she could easily fill five books of this nature of what she described as an exquisitely beautiful and interesting multi-dimensional corner of the world.
Tales & Trails: Adventures for Everyone in the Canadian Rockies retails for $22.95.