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Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies: The Opinionated Hiking Guide [Paperback]

Kathy Copeland , Craig Copeland
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2006 Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies: The Opinionated
This all-new, fifth edition describes 138 dayhikes and backpack trips in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, and Waterton national parks, as well as Mt. Robson and Assiniboine provincial parks. Here’s the discerning advice you need to create rewarding adventures. This guide rates and reviews trips as Premier, Outstanding, Worthwhile, or Don’t Do. 260 colour photos reveal this stunning wilderness. Trail maps for each trip enhance the comprehensive route descriptions

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read and full of usefull information Dec 9 2008
By Bert
Format:Paperback
This book is fun to read, the tone is light and the information is complete. I compared the author's comments on the couple hikes I did in the past and they are dead on.

The book is full of color photos, uses good quality paper. It also includes maps for each hike.

Why not 5 stars? In the introduction section, a map of each park presents each trip location. However I would have liked to see at what page each trip is detailed. Now I have to go the index every time. The extra indexing in the introduction would have made it easier to consult.

But this is a minor detail compared to the wealth of information.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Ideas but lacking Aug. 2 2010
Format:Paperback
This is a great book if you're struggling to find a list of good hikes. The authors provide plenty of detail about how to get to the hike and what to look for. The book is not perfect though and you`ll want to look for extra information about each hike before attempting it. It`s been our experience that the authors consistently understate the amount of time you should expect to complete a hike by about 20%, while most other guide books with the same routes have more realistic time estimates. The book has many great pictures that give you a great idea about what`s in store. The maps in the back of the book are nearly useless, showing only a rough estimate of the path you`ll be following and no geographic information any more specific than a blob for a lake or a symbol for a mountain summit. I`m not sure how the authors calculated their route distances but in our group we usually have 3 GPS to record our tracks and always end up one to two kilometers longer than expected from the book. I`m write it off to an anomaly if it were only a single tracklog but when we have multiple track logs showing identical distance travelled with a significant difference from the book I question it`s validity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hiking guide Jan. 14 2005
By wolewyck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My husband and I spent a couple of weeks in the Banff/Jasper/Kootenay region last summer and relied mostly on this guide to choose our hikes. Boy was that a good decision. This guide has all the basics (round trip distance, elevation gain, estimated time, difficulty rating, directions to trailhead, etc.). What's more, it has a ranking system from "premier" to "don't do" based mostly on aesthetics. We tried hikes of all ratings and fully concurred with the author's opinions.

The book is also organized very well to help you find your hikes. It is split up into day hikes and backpacking trips (we are day hikers). Within those groups, the hikes are grouped into "quality" rankings and are numbered. The front of the book contains maps of each covered park (Waterton Lakes, Jasper, Banff, Yoho Kootenay, Mt. Assiniboine) with the associated hike numbers so you can find the locations of the best hikes, and/or see which are grouped closer together. And index in the back helps you find hikes by name.

If you're looking for information on accommodations or other activities in the area, this is not the book for you. Also, if you care about color photos (I don't), this isn't for you-- all pictures are black and white. However, I did not find that this absence detracts at all from the book's usefulness. The descriptions are quite mouth-watering enough on their own (and are often humorous).

This is one terrific hiking guide; I only wish similar ones were available for more parks!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where to hike in the Canadian Rockies National Parks Sept. 8 2005
By D. S. Thurlow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies," by Kathy and Craig Copeland, bills itself as an opinionated hiking guide to the Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, and Waterton Lakes National Parks in western Canada. The Copelands are experienced and obviously very fit hikers who offer their take on worthwhile hikes.

The book is divided into a series of chapters, each covering a hike or area of interlinked hikes. Each chapter offers basic data such as the distance of hikes, elevation change, and a rating for difficulty. The Copeland's rating system of easy, moderate and challenging presupposes at least some level of basic fitness and should be taken seriously with respect to the challenge posed by the terrain and the highly variable weather in the Canadian Rockies. Each chapter includes commentary on the special aspects of the terrain covered by the hike, typically grouped with sketch maps and photos and a recommendation for the appropriate supplemental map.

The Copelands also offer much useful information on the weather, wildlife, and other potential hazards in the Rockies, along with sound recommendations for equipment and trip planning.

The Copelands write in an entertaining style; this author found their opinions on what can be experienced on various hikes to be well-founded, based on several seasons of hiking in the Canadian Rockies. This book is highly recommended to the non-technical but enterprising hiker looking to explore the Canadian Rockies.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide, and Service! March 4 2007
By Paul Rahoi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Review of FIFTH EDITION (published July 2006)... I originally ordered this book through Amazon, but after not shipping for more than a month I decided to order it directly from the Authors. I was pleasantly surprised to have my email answered within a few hours, and to receive a phone call from Kathy Copeland shortly afterwards. As I was awaiting for the book to arrive, I had several email exchanges with Kathy, in which she freely gave hiking suggestions for Glacier NP, and answered specific questions. Before even seeing the book, it became obvious to me that the authors have great satisfaction in experiencing great hikes, and perhaps greater satisfaction in helping others have the same experience (something I can really relate to, and the very qualities you want in the author of a hiking book). With that quality of service, I had great anticipated the arrival of their book. I was not disappointed.

While the writing style is unique (interesting, humorous, whatever), make no mistake about it-- the book is "COMMON SENSE" to the core, both in content and in it's organization. And it follows the "golden rule"-- the authors provide exactly the kind of information that they (and most hikers) would want if they were to purchase a hiking book. The emphasis in rating hikes is primarily placed upon the WOW-factor of the hike (i.e. how much does this hike STIMULATE me scenically, be it through sweeping vistas, lush meadows, iridescent lakes,... whatever). Distances and elevations are specified in both English (miles/ft) and metric (km/m)... for those of you in the US who have never spent hours converting figures in a hiking book published in Canada, believe me, this is something to be VERY thankful for!

The beginning of the book includes a "Trip Locations" section-- overview maps of the various national parks, dotted with trail numbers, and on the same/opposite page they list names of the hikes and their rating (Premier, Outstanding, Worthwhile, Don't do). So the hikes are arranged visually by park location.

Shortly afterward, a "Dayhikes at a Glance" section arranges the hikes by rating (Premier's listed first, then Outstanding,...etc.), first for the dayhikes, then the backpacking trips. These tables also show distance and elevation gains. This is precisely the kind of information you need to plan a trip. An index of the very best "Wildflower Hikes" is a nice touch.

The introduction section(s) also cover all the standards you typically would expect (i.e. preparation, weather, bears, trail ethics,...etc.).

The back of the book includes a "Trip Maps" section-- these are not topo maps (which are generally useless tiny black/white photocopies in hiking books anyway), but appear to take the form of sketches, though apparently done using computer software. The maps do not illustrate 3-dimensional relief (i.e. valleys, ridges, mountains), but everything is clearly named: the path of the trail(s) shown in red, the lakes/rivers in blue, mountain peaks as black triangles, and parking/trailheads as black circles. The scale is also shown. The inclusion of distances and elevations (which is included in the individual hike overviews) would have made the maps perfect for a hiking book, but they fall short in this area (improvement project for the next edition?)

The individual hikes are very logically arranged. First, all of the day-hikes are listed in one section, followed by another section listing the backpacking (extended) hikes. VERY helpful if you mostly day-hike (as e do), or mostly backpacks. Within each of these sections, the authors list the Premier hikes first (ordered geographically as you move northwest through the Canadian Rockies), followed by all the Outstanding hikes,....etc. VERY helpful in identifying what hikes should be at the top of the itinerary. The description of each hike first includes the authors "Opinion", followed by all of the "Facts". Again, VERY helpful, because when facts/opinions are combined (as with most hiking books), you have to wade through all the factual info to get the opinions (i.e. determine if the hike is worth doing). Likewise, when you want to get the facts, you sometimes have to wade through opinions. Keeping them separate was a smart decision.

Each hike begins with a table which lists: Location, Round Trip Distance(s), Elevation Gain(s), Key Elevations, Hiking Time, Difficulty, and Maps (pg on which map is found, and specific topo map which can be purchased).

Nearly all hikes include a sizable color picture(s) of the most scenic portion(s) of the hike-- exactly what you would want to see. The opinionated descriptions describe exactly what makes this hike appealing, the degree to which it has appeal, and if unappealing, then suggested alternatives in the vicinity. VERY well done.

Suggested improvements? I think the authors place a heavy emphasis upon solitude, but for a significant number of people, this is not nearly as important as the scenic splendor. Yet, some hikes may have slipped a notch in the rating scale because of their heavy use. It would be helpful if hikes of this nature were denoted with a special symbol of some sort, both in the overview tables and in the table which introduces the individual hikes. To their credit, the authors frequently mention (in the Opinion section) which hikes see heavy usage, but a prominent visual cue indicating that the hike was demoted a rating level (for lack of solitude) would make an excellently arranged book even better.

I also own Grame Pole's book "Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies" (1999 edition). While this is one of my better hiking books (I own about a dozen), the Copeland's book is better in a variety of ways. If you want multiple opinions, buy both. If you want just one, then "Don't waste your..." money on anything other than Copeland's book: "Don't waste your time in the Canadian Rockies".
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but there are better books May 16 2006
By Roger MacLeod - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The writing is lively and informative, and the color pages give a good idea of the terrain covered by these hikes, but this book lacks maps and is very expensive - around $15 higher than a book called the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, by Brian Patton, which is what all the locals recommend (as I found out after I'd already bought this book).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! A must-have! Buy it! :0) Sept. 27 2008
By CJK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just spent three weeks hiking in Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks. "Don't Waste Your Time" was the most helpful guide book I could have imagined.

I don't need to repeat every point made in the other five-star reviews on here; but I would like to point out the one feature that made the Copelands' book so useful to me - and this is their ratings system:

The Copelands don't just list dozens of hikes without telling you which one is better or worse than others. Instead they rate them and tell you how worthwile each hike actually is, and why -- and just having hiked for three weeks with "Don't Waste Your Time" in hand I can say, they are pretty much spot-on.

If you would have YEARS to hike in the Canadian Rockies, you could do without these ratings, of course. But if you have only a few days or, at most, two or three weeks, you will be very grateful for the Copelands pointing you towards the very best in hiking the Canadian Rockies have to offer.

One reviewer on here writes that the "Canadian Rockies Trail Guide" by Brian Patton is the "bible" with which "the locals" hike -- which supposedly means that "the locals" do not hike using "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies".

If that is really the case, or not, I don't know. However, I think this argument is a bit of a no-brainer: People visiting the Canadian Rockies have different needs than the locals. The locals don't need to get the most out of a few days of hiking - visitors coming in for a few days do.

And that's where "Don't Waste Your Time" is superior. It may not list as many hikes as the "Canadian Rockies Trail Guide", but it is so much more helpful in deciding where to hike every day.

If you want to buy only one hiking guide for the Canadian Rockies, buy "Don't Waste Your Time". If you want to buy two guide books, also buy the "Canadian Rockies Trail Guide". To a certain degree, these two complement each other.
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