Hiker spends a quarter century inviting others to walk in her footsteps

Janice Strong at Bishop’s Bookstore and Coffee Lounge Saturday, May 12th 7:30 p.m.

Twenty-five years after her hiking guidebook was first published, Janice Strong will be in Invermere to launch the fourth edition of Mountain Footsteps: Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern British Columbia.

The latest edition of her popular guide for trails in the region includes approximately 100 hikes, a quarter of which are new additions. The new release also features mountain-biking trails, including Old Coach Trail.

Ms. Strong said she has enjoyed hiking since she was four years old.

“I’ve always been an outdoor kid,” she said.

More than a quarter century ago, Ms. Strong watched a video on doing what you love and decided to write about her favourite hikes. Her passion became her career and evolved along with her.

“When I first started, nobody had a GPS… so I learned map and compass skills,” she said, adding that in her earlier days she tracked her steps with a pedometer so she could write directions.

It’s easier to pinpoint exact locations with modern technology, but Ms. Strong provides much more than satellite coordinates to help hikers not get lost. She also writes notes about the terrain, rocks, creeks and land formations.

She said hikers who follow her directions appreciate her attention to detail and how much description she includes.

“They find the trails are easy to find,” she said.

For Lorene Keitch, editor of the Pioneer, an earlier version of Ms. Strong’s guidebook gave her the confidence to hike and explore with abandon. Mrs. Keitch said the earlier edition afforded her and her partner access to trails and wilderness they otherwise may have missed.

Ms. Strong has hiked and camped all over the East Kootenays. On one trip, she camped overnight at Silver Basin, near Invermere, and woke before dawn to watch the sun rise over the mountains.

“It was wonderful,” she said.

Less idealistic conditions can also make for beautiful adventures, she said. She and her hiking companion debated turning around once when the weather was “storming and raining and horrible.” But they waited out the storm and the calm that followed was so stunning, so still and spectacular, that a photo of the scene is the cover image of her latest release.

“Why not stay for a snowstorm and see what happens?” she asked.

As long as hikers are prepared, are dressed for the weather and know where they are, she encourages them to stick around and gain a deeper appreciation for the East Kootenays.

“You get to see the wild spaces as they are,” she said. “You just feel so alive.”

Perhaps that’s why others have been following in her footsteps for 25 years.

Bishop’s Bookstore And Coffee Lounge is hosting an event at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th, where Ms. Strong will promote her book and connect with local hiking enthusiasts.

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