Close Encounter of the Wildlife Kind

Close Encounter of the Wildlife Kind

On a beautiful fall day (October 9th) my husband Colin and I were enjoying our last day in Waterton Lakes National Park by hiking to Lineham Ridge.  What an extraordinary trail this was, with astounding views of the surrounding peaks from a spectacular ridge walk!   On our return trip, we stopped in at Lower Rowe Lake, which was just a short side trip of a few hundred metres off the main trail.  As I rounded a corner on the trail, I was startled to see a large black animal at close range.  My reaction was that I was facing a black bear as I immediately reached  down to my waist belt to pull out my bear spray. But it turned out to be a large jet-black off-leash dog, one of two.  As we approached the two men lounging by the side of the lake, I told the one closest to me that their dog had given me a terrible fright, as I initially mistook it for a black bear.  He just laughed and shrugged it off.  I made the decision not to give my sermon on the many dangers of off-leash dogs, thinking these were likely locals who knew the rules and would just throw me attitude

  • Lineham Ridge

  • Lineham Ridge

  • Lineham Ridge

  • Lineham Ridge

  • Rowe/Lineham Trail

A short time later, Colin and I resumed our hike on a heavily forested section of the trail, which is quite narrow, clinging to the side of a steep and deep valley.  Once again, I rounded a corner to come face-to-face with another animal. This time it was a large Big Horn ram, the size of a pony.  He abruptly came to a halt as did I.  He made the first move and graciously yielded the trail to us, plunging into the very thick forest and making quite the racket as he pushed his way through the thick tangle of trees and deadfall.  Indeed, he didn’t like that too much and as we inched past him along the trail, he actually took steps towards us.  We fingered our bear spray but my husband called out to him in a loud voice and Mr. Ram opted to push on through the heavy growth until he was behind us at which point he re-gained the trail and cantered off up the trail.  Uh oh, we thought.  We expressed our concern that he may encounter the two men.  But as both dogs were wearing harnesses, we hoped they had just been unleashed for a quick drink and dip in the lake and men would have them on leash. 

Close encounter occurred in this heavily forested area

We continued down the trail for a few minutes, when I was surprised to hear the clatter of smalls rocks behind me and I thought my husband had fallen as coupled with the sound of rocks I heard him call out “Mandy, watch out!”  As I turned my head to look at him, I was shocked and screamed out as a large animal literally brushed my side as it thundered past me and down the trail at a full gallop.  It was that magnificent ram, obviously scared for his life.  Shaken by this closest encounter we had ever had with a wild animal, we finished up our hike.  As we were preparing to leave the trailhead, the two men and their dogs emerged from the trail.  When asked if they saw the ram, they said no, but did admit that one of their dogs took off chasing something, which they assumed was a deer. At that point, we relayed to them the dangerous situation they had caused for us.  We called it in to the Park office when we got back to town.

In looking back on this situation, I realized how lucky we were. If that ram had head butted us out of the way, I am sure at that speed he would have broken many bones and we could have been seriously injured. If he had shouldered me a bit more as he galloped by rather than merely brushing my arm, I could have been sent tumbling down a step embankment. Off leash dogs are not only a danger to themselves, their owners and the wildlife they encounter but sometimes, as this example illustrates, other individuals who can become collateral damage. Dogs in our national and provincial parks should always, ALWAYS be on a leash.

Muscular males can weigh over 300 pounds and stand over three feet tall at the shoulder

What to wear & bring (Spring, Summer, Fall):

  1. Wear comfy casual clothes.
  2. Bring a warm extra layer & rain jacket, just in case.
  3. Running shoes are fine while light trail or hiking shoes provide even more support and are ideal.
  4. Please no flip-flops or sandals.
  5. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  6. Don't forget your water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, insect repellent and your camera.

What to wear & bring (Winter):

  1. Wear a long sleeve t-shirt/thermal underwear top plus 1 or 2 layers (i.e.: light fleece top, heavier fleece top) & a wind/waterproof shell. Heavy winter parkas and snow pants are usually too warm.
  2. Wear winter boots or lined hiking boots. Icers, which go over your footwear to prevent slipping, are provided when necessary.
  3. Leave purses at home. A small backpack is a great bring-along.
  4. Bring water, gloves/mitts, a hat/headband, scarf/buff/neck warmer, tissues/handkerchief, sunglasses and don't forget your camera!

Reserve OnLine:

It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Simply click the "Book Now" button, select your preferred date to check availability, fill in your personal details and then make a secure payment via credit card. The system will automatically send you a confirmation of your session with the relevant details.

Liability Waiver:

Liability waivers are a necessary part of any commercial activity experience. I recommend that you take the time now to review this legal document that you will be required to sign before we start our clinic or walk together:

View the Waiver

Your Health & Physical Activity Readiness:

We ask guests who are experiencing cold symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and practice self-isolation under the direction of the appropriate governing body. For almost everyone, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh any risks. For some individuals, special advice from a Qualified Exercise or health care provider is advisable before becoming more active. This questionnaire is intended for all ages – to help move you along the path to becoming more physically active.

Please review this Questionnaire if you have concerns about your health or fitness level for participating in Nordic walking.

Cancellation Policy:

Full refunds are given if a cancellation is received 24 hours or more prior to the clinic or tour date. No refunds are given with less than 24 hours notice. Clinics/tours go rain or shine. If the weather is extreme, then it may be cancelled with a full refund given.

Malcolm Hotel

Canmore Public Parking


Parking is available on-street or in public lots throughout Canmore. It is a good idea to arrive early on busy days to locate suitable parking.

Malcolm Hotel - Onsite


Restrooms are available at the Malcolm hotel in the lobby.

Canmore Public Restrooms


Public restrooms are available within a short walk:

Canmore Public Restrooms - Trailheads


Public pit toilets are available at all trailheads.

Canmore Various

Where to meet:

Starting locations will vary seasonally with instructions included in your booking confirmation.


Parking options will vary by location with details included in your booking confirmation.

Tour Canmore

Various Canmore Trailheads

Canmore Walking Tour 1.5 Hour

Canmore Walking Tour 3 Sisters

Hikes Cognito Form

Winter Hikes Cognito Form

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