It was with great elation that I read Banff National Park now allows for pedal-assisted electric bikes on a couple of backcountry trails. Like many of us, I’ve been an avid recreationalist in the Bow Valley for decades – hiking, biking, climbing, skiing and paddling.
I’ve dutifully abided by the myriad of seasonal restrictions, trail closures and other regulations designed to balance sensitive environmental considerations with the privilege of backcountry access. That all ended with my open heart surgery last summer.
Since then, I have been relegated to dead flat hiking and biking in the frontcountry and there is absolutely no comparison between the two levels of experience. Contrary to the position of Mr. Bunyan of the Bow Valley Naturalists, at least in my case, e-bikes do not move the trailhead from the highway to the heart of the backcountry.
The rides will still be a challenge for me, but at least now I have a fighting chance. So kudos to Parks Canada for opening up a few trails in their vast backcountry network. Though Mr. Bunyan feels the decision defies logic, it won’t defy me the precious opportunity for more profound wilderness experiences.