Isn’t it hard to believe this area was once a warm shallow ocean full of sea creatures? Today we are surrounded by tall beautiful mountains, full of stories that are 200 million years in the making. Stories fossilised and preserved in rock. This includes a story about a giant fossilised Ammonite (Titanites occidentalis) hidden on Castle Mountain! A carnivorous, coiled, squid-like predator that hunted these waters around 150 million years old. Finding this beauty took us on our next Deskie Adventure – an Ancient Ammonite Hike.
We’re going on an Ammonite Hike….
Ask the locals how to get the ammonite and you will see how elusive it is to find. And so, not too keen on getting lost, we booked an Ancient Ammonite Hike with Lee-Ann from Elk Valley Wildsight. Armed with water, snacks (because well, snacks!), bear spray and good banter, we headed off with our friends from Wildsight and Tourism Fernie. On the hunt for something soooo old, it probably hung out with dinosaurs! Maybe that’s why the scenery felt very ‘Jurassic Park-ish’!?
Out past the gun-range on Coal Creek and just after the first bridge you will find the trail-head. The path creeps alongside and then up and around the mountain to a creek bed. Follow the creek up until you spot the giant fossil. So, that sounds easy enough to find right!? Hmmmm, not so fast.. Clambering over and under fallen trees, zig-zagging through stinging nettles or heading down the wrong path can easily divert you off course. Certainly a beginner level hike however it is best you have someone who knows where they are going!
We stopped several times throughout the hike as Lee-Ann gives an interpretative talk . She spoke about the history of the mountains, types of rock found in the area and the fossils. And she generated some interesting discussion and thought on how WE can help protect and conserve our natural world.
We’re gonna see a big one…
If you look hard enough, you can find fossils of ancient creatures on mountain tops and hill sides all throughout the Elk Valley! A geological crew mapping seams of shale, siltstone and sandstone in the Fernie Formation discovered the ancient ammonite back in 1947. The team thought it was a ‘fossilised truck tire’ due to its size and shape but instead they had discovered the biggest complete ammonite fossil ever found in Canada!
While this ancient ammonite is bigger than any Deskie curled up, its closest relative today is a shelled nautilus and smaller than 20cm in size. It is said to have large eyes, long-suckerless tentacles and swam vertically using jet propulsion,varying the air pressure in its chamber to change depths. These carnivorous creatures hunted in shallow, warm waters around 400 – 65 million years ago. Did you know these creatures are part of the cephalopod family? The cephalopod family includes octopus and squid!
Whatever hike you’re making this season, make sure you look more closely for fossils!!
We’re not scared…
Out in the elements there is no stopping natural erosion of the ammonite however, we can minimise human impact! We definitely recommend booking an Ancient Ammonite Hike with the Elk Valley Wildsight team. Not only will you will safely get to the ammonite, you will also learn all about it! And, knowledge is power right!? The more we know about our environment, the more we can do our part to help conserve this beautiful area.
Lee-Ann and the Elk Valley Wildsight team work to ensure nature and the economy go hand in hand. You can read about the amazing initiatives they work on in the Fernie community including EcoGarden, Apple Capture and the Wild Nature Tours on their website. Wildsight is a registered charity and their five branches, including Elk Valley are separate non-profit societies. You can become a lifetime member or donate and help Wildsights mission for sustainable communities.
You can also visit Lee-Ann and the team at the Wildsight office located on 2nd Avenue. Make sure you look out for our new friend, Riley the dog who is an office regular. He loves hugs and treats!
It’s a beautiful day!
As always, we recommend checking out the Tourism Fernie website when planning your next visit to Fernie! It has all the latest and greatest information about our beautiful area!
Calling all thrill-seekers! Looking for adventure on your next trip to Fernie? Well, all the fun isn’t reserved just for winter! How does scaling up tall trees to try balance, jump, climb and clamber your way through an obstacle course? What about screaming down a Zipline at up to 60km per hour? If this sounds like your ticket then you absolutely need to check out the Fernie Alpine Resort Aerial Park & Zipline.
During the hot summer months, Fernie Alpine Resort turns into a thrill-seekers playground with Mountain Biking trails, Hiking trails, Aerial Park, a Zipline and more. This months Red Tree Lodge Deskie adventures took us to check the Aerial Park & Zipline out.
Fernie Alpine Resort Aerial Park
On what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the season our team arrived at the resort ready to start our adventure. The Aerial Park team suited us up into our safety gear before taking us on up to the Park. Walking up to the Aerial Park, the teams anticipation was clear; “Actually, I’m not sure if I am scared of heights”, “Will this thing actually catch me if I fall?” “Is my butt strap tight enough?”.
There are 23 features (obstacles), three Ziplines and one Leap of Faith ranging from beginner to advanced levels to make your way around. Lucky for us, the Aerial Park guides have a feature set-up nice and low to the ground that allows up to practice. We were shown how to attach ourselves and our buddy to and from features safely and then set free on the course.
Time to climb
Standing at the bottom of the tree and getting ready to make the first climb is where the adrenaline starts to pump a little. The hands get a little sweaty and the stomach fills with butterflies. However, once we nailed the first climb and feature, we had the swing of it. Each feature got a little more challenging and a little higher in the trees than the previous one. This was much more a team building experience than I realised. The higher and harder the features got, the louder the encouragement from the Red Tree and Aerial Park teams were!
Even if you are okay with heights, there are features for all levels that will really push you outside of your comfort zone. The feeling of accomplishment and reward was awesome after getting across the difficult features!
Rescue Procedures Test
One of the harder features is called the ‘Swinging Islands’. You need to somehow ninja across swinging platforms while holding onto ropes. At this point our manager Jody decided to check the Aerial Parks rescue procedures….by falling off one of the islands! Okay so she may not have actually wanted to check the rescue procedures but we appreciate her commitment to this blog. Looking like a ‘hang in there baby’ cat poster, Jimmy from the Aerial Park team managed to pull some swift rescue moves and get Jody back to safety, just in time for his lunch break! And thanks to Jody, I knew to by-pass this feature as there would have been two rescues! You can see why the ‘Swinging Islands’ became our favourite feature to talk (ahem…laugh) about.
Fernie Alpine Resort Zipline
Rippin’ the Zip
The Aerial Park does have three Ziplines, two of which will get you down from the features in the trees. Cruising down a Zipline from 40ft in the air is definitely the fun way to get down.
If you are wanting to really ‘Rip the Zip’, check out the Zipline set up near the Mini Moose run! After our fun at the Aerial Park, we made our way up to the top of the Mini Moose run. Locked and loaded we each had our turn taking off from down 555ft Zipline and hitting speeds up to 60km/h on the way down. The breeze was certainly welcome on such a hot day! And the screams, well, they were a necessity on the way down!
Just when you thought the fun was over, you need to catch a ‘Tru Blue’ system down off the Zipline platform. Both the Aerial Park and Zipline have these ‘Tru Blue’ systems which are aptly named the ‘Leap of Faith’. The system is designed to catch you as soon you take a walk off the platform. Jumping off platforms and having complete faith in the gear that connects you is not for the faint hearted. But it sure is fun!!
The Aerial Park and Zipline are run by different teams. You need to complete waivers and receive safety information and gear for each activity. See the team at Guest Services to chat where to go and who to meet.
If you’re planning your getaway to Fernie, check out the Tourism Fernie website. The website is loaded with information about Activities, Culture, Events, special Packages and Offers. There is even a planning tool that will help give you fantastic ideas on what to do.
At Red Tree Lodge, we use the Tourism Fernie website to plan our adventures and check up to date event information. You can find tons of information about the Fernie Alpine Resort Aerial Park & Zipline including dates of operation, rates, height/weight restrictions and more!
If you are looking for a challenging yet family friendly/team building adventure, then definitely head up to the Fernie Alpine Resort Aerial Park & Zipline this summer! The fantastic Aerial Park & Zipline teams will ensure you have an amazing time. And let’s be honest, there is nothing quite like the hilarity of watching your boss be rescued by Jimmy!
Saturday September 24th, I had the opportunity to go to the home opener for the Fernie Ghostriders, our local hockey team here in Fernie! It.Was.Awesome! With both Ashley and myself being new to Canada this was an grand experience. We are both from New Zealand and were super excited to hit our first Ice Hockey game. Luckily that was just what the next Red Tree Lodge Deskie Adventure was scheduled to be!
Hotel Close To Fernie Hockey Rink
We agreed to meet at the Red Tree since the hotel is so close to the Fernie hockey rink. From there we picked up our discounted tickets from the Front Desk, and then headed across the street to the Fernie Memorial Arena. The game was the Fernie Ghostriders vs Creston Valley Thunder Cats, and we were eager to see the season start here in Fernie. There were a couple of guests of the hotel looking for something to do that evening, so we invited them to join us at the game and walked over to the rink.
When we arrived, a table full of hockey pucks caught my eye! Oooooo! I wandered over and saw they have rubber pucks numbered from 1 to about 200. These were for the ‘Puck Toss’ $2 a puck – if you are not familiar with the puck toss I will explain. The aim is to toss your hockey puck into or closest to the target in the middle of the rink. In this case the target was a bucket with a burger on it. I bought two pucks but with my luck reached no way near the target, of course! I don’t think Ashley did any better either. We also got our inflatable “Bam Bams” from this table too! They were fun, loud, and eventually got annoying thanks to me being an overenthusiastic fan. I was just supporting the boys all the way!
The start of the game was unreal – they turned the lights off and each member of the team came out one by one with an individual announcement. Once all the Ghostriders were out on the Ice, the lights came back on and two figure skaters skated around the rink, holding the Canadian flag as the National Anthem played, which was really cool and unexpected.
Fernie Ghostriders Hockey
The game was so much fun to watch! Even though I’ve never been to an ice hockey game before, I mostly understood what was going on – I think! Luckily, this was a fairly high scoring game so there were lots of excuses to make some noise.
The snack bar at the arena had an awesome selection for food and drinks from popcorn to poutine (I’m coming around on this Canadian staple!). On tap they had the Fernie Brewery beers and some Palm Bay coolers.
After each period, we got to watch the famous Zamboni resurface the ice. I had heard of these machines before but never seen one in action, so that was a treat. The driver even had his own Ghostriders sweater with his name! I would say, with such an important job that he’s a pretty big deal around the rink.
Unfortunately for us Creston won this one 8-2, but not to worry. We will get them back…. I’m happy to say I will now be a regular in the Ice Hockey scene – such fun! It won’t be hard with the hotel so close to the Fernie hockey rink! Our next home game is October 1st against Castlegar – good luck to the team, and we’ll see you there!