The First Ramblers Trip (1954)

I remember the first Ramblers trip ever organized in Calgary. It left Calgary a week late due to inclement weather the day it was supposed to go.

Robert Service said "The northern lights have seen queer sights" but I'm sure most of them were no more queer than that which was seen on the front lawn of the Hickey house on 7th Street, N.W., that Sunday morning in May 1954. About thirty of us gathered there about 8:00 a.m. and after John Hickey (now Maclnnes) had made as many introductions as possible we climbed into a motley assortment of cars and headed for the Y.M.C.A's Camp Chief Hector.

The objective was to climb Mt. Yamnuska (since renamed Mt. Lawrie) and John as the leader really did know how to get there. We were green and unused to this sort of outing and before we had gone far from the trail head we had separated into a small group, headed by John and a large group not apparently led by anyone. The large group of which 1 was a member gradually broke up into smaller groups and plunged upward on the ridge to the east of the main mountain. We were never lost in the sense that we all knew how to get back to the cars, but we never did reach the top of the mountain.

The small party of which John was the leader did in fact reach the top of the mountain and descended to the road some two miles west of the camp. Some of us who had returned to the cars by this time ferried them back to the trail head. When we were all assembled at the starting point and were all accounted for we returned to Calgary.

This was a very inauspicious beginning and was followed by some similar experiences. However, I'm pleased to say that our organization has improved somewhat since then.

Sandy Vair


The First Camping Trip

The first camping trip attempted by the R.M.R.A was held in the Kananaskis Valley at the Eau Claire campsite on 22, 23 and 24th of May 1954. It was in many respects also a "disaster". We seemed to go like General Jubilation T. Cornpone from Disaster to Disaster, gathering strength as we went.

In this instance the campsite was an Alberta Forest Service camp and quite well appointed. It was here that most of us were introduced to the wood tick. This is the season when this pest is most active in the area and we found them in all sorts of places. My tent appeared to have been pitched in the middle of a nest of the beasts and we found them crawling all over our sleeping bags on Sunday morning.

My carload arrived too late Saturday to do much other than an after-supper scramble on the Wedge where we found some interesting fossils. The maximum effort was planned for Sunday.

As early as we could get everyone moving, we drove to the turnoff for the Kananaskis Lakes at King Creek. The road, far from what it is like today, presented a very soggy appearance and we parked the cars at the turn-off and proceeded to walk towards the lakes. A kindly fisherman picked up several of us and whisked us off ahead of the others towards the upper lake. This progress was interrupted for upwards of an hour when the truck became stuck in the mud. Our driver was rescued by another fisherman who was towing a boat behind his car and then we proceeded to the upper lake. The road was very bad. It was a series of large puddles extending from side to side between high banks of melting snow. The last hill down to the lake nearly finished the truck off again as It bounced from snow bank to snow bank around the corners and out onto the gravel patch below the dam on the old river bed.

It was a long walk home, especially for those who had walked all the way in and that evening everyone was dead beat. Most of us, however, managed a short stroll to a nearby beaver pond to watch the builders in the late dusk.

We returned to find that some of our neighbours in the campground had a large fire going and were consuming great quantities of beer and singing loud and long (until 3:00 a.m.) and off key. Besides that, it got very cold. The next morning the frost was thick on the tents and everyone danced vigorously around the picnic shelter to get warm.

Later In the day some of us ascended Rocky Creek and once more battled the ticks. They were still with some of us for several days after and one of the girls reported them in her closet at the "Y" the next weekend.

From Dec 1966 - Jan 1967 issue of "The Pack Rat"

Sandy Vair