Story Ideas

Fondue with a View – Canadian Signature Experiences

Hike the Canadian Rockies and enjoy a chocolate reward with Great Divide Nature Interpretation

04 April 2012

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a great friend – one who knows everything about the wilds of the Canadian Rockies – to take you on a hike up to one of the most expansive views of pristine peaks?

And wouldn’t it be perfect if that friend hauled along everything to create their top-secret chocolate fondue (tip: it includes Belgian chocolate from local chocolatier Bernard Callebaut) as a reward for your efforts?

You can expect that and more on a hike with Joel Hagen and Nadine Fletcher. Both are professional guides and heritage interpreters in Banff National Park – they’ve won the awards and are the guides that train other mountain guides – so you know you have the best when you head up a trail with these two.

The couple has worked in the Rockies for more than two decades, both for Parks Canada and now in their own company, Great Divide Nature Interpretation. And whether you choose to spend a day walking, hiking or snowshoeing with Hagen and Fletcher, the chocolate isn’t the only treat.

Meet them at the trailhead in Lake Louise, the hub of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies, and choose an easy, moderate or difficult trail – each taking you to a spectacular setting with a breathtaking view. Fill your lungs with pine-scented mountain air and feel the soft spongy moss beneath your hiking boots as you climb through forested slopes, glimpsing glaciers, ice blue lakes, snowy peaks and rivers rushing through deep valleys below.

You’ll have plenty of time to stop and rest along the way, while your guides regale you with tales of the earliest Swiss mountain guides who arrived here to guide tourists up these mountains more than a century ago. Many made the Canadian Rockies their second home – and you’ll find their culture woven into ours, especially when it comes to foods like raclette and fondue.

But there’s more than history in Fletcher and Hagen’s kit bag of mountain lore, science and trivia. You may find yourself on your hands and knees photographing a tiny glacier lily or stroking the needles of every conifer you pass to feel the differences between spiky spruce and friendly firs. You may be standing just where Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris composed his dramatic painting of Mt. Lefroy or relaxing at Paget Lookout at the top of the Great Divide, where the rivers that spring from these icy slopes flow off to far oceans, both east and west, and rare grizzly bears graze on open slopes.

No time to trek? Try a fondue dinner in the historic Waldhaus (former 1927 golf clubhouse) at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and enjoy a view of the rushing Spray River while you dunk.

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