Western Canadian Hikes

I am aware that this space is suppose to be all about recipes and food post but I’ve been taking advantage of the outdoors for the past few weeks. You see, for all 6 years I’ve been in Calgary, there hasn’t been a proper fall season. My experience of fall has been admiring the yellow trees one day and the next day?… All the leaves have fallen off. This year has been different. There is a proper window to admire the fall colours, temperature has been very pleasant and frankly, there was a calling to head outside. The kitchen oven and stand mixer can wait a little while because nature doesn’t.

I did more hikes in the past 3 weeks than the entire summer and came to the conclusion that fall is the best season to hike. Yes, it is a lot more cooler and unbearable at times but the view pays off.

The first hike I did is called Larch Valley Hike. Located at Lake Moraine in Banff National Park, Alberta. Lake Moraine is one of the crown jewels of the Canadian Rockies. The lake is set with 10 mountain peaks as the background and the view is breathtaking and apparently, for a 3 week window in fall, the larch trees around the lake turns yellow, providing a beautiful scenery. Don’t believe? See below. The pictures didn’t require any editing.

After that hike, I was hooked and wanted to do more hikes but my body was being stubborn. I came down with a cold and cough. The original plan was to do another 4-5 hour hike but I knew my body won’t be able to handle so my friends and I decided to check out a cold war bunker which was never completed. It sits at the base of Heart Mountain and it is open to the public to explore. The mountain gets it name from the heart shape looking peak at the top ( see picture below). The bunker is bigger than it looks on the internet pictures with multiple paths and it was really fun walking into a ‘cave’ with much cooler temperatures and your vision is so limited because of the darkness. Eerie yet cool feeling. I have scaled Heart Mountain for my Geology Field School 4 years ago. It was the toughest hiking ever because it was a 12 hr round trip with 45degree inclines most of the way. My legs gave out on the way down and I really wanted to give up so many times and just roll my body down instead. No need to guess where I am not hiking ever again.

Just last week, Pat and I headed to a small town in British Columbia to visit a friend who was moving away soon. The small town is called Wasa and is located in the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies. Part of the trip planned was to do a hike but left the area to hike open to my friend. The hike is called Lakit Lookout Trail. It sits right along the ridge at the top of Mount Lakit and the lookout was used to be a forest fire station back in the day. Today, it serves as a shelter to anyone equipped with firewood, a foam mattress, some cooking utensils, candles and a log book to sign in.

Majority of the ascend was done by a 4×4 off road and it wasn’t a very pleasant trip up. I lost count how may times my head hit the roof of the truck. The trail is a steep uphill for 1.5 hours all the way and with the altitude, I had trouble breathing and felt dizzy. Pat was a sweetheart taking my pack off me so I could feel more comfortable. If you peek closely, the hut says the elevation is at 2354m/7720ft. The view is amazing as you can look across out to the surrounding towns on one side, and the belt of mountains on the other side. It sure looks sunny in the picture but the wind was just unforgiving.

The picture below is Pat and I at the lookout. Pat hates this photo because of his hair but I LOVE it. HAHA!

Fish Tacos

I used to do tacos when I started out cooking more often. It started out by purchasing those taco kit from the grocery store but beef tacos is insanely heavy. Top it off with all the additional toppings like lettuce, cheese, sour cream ; it is a lot of side prep work to do and frankly, it is very americanised. Since then, I have decided to ditch the taco kit and try fish tacos. It’s lighter to take and pack in so much more flavour. I don’t even need to use pre-made seasoning cause I can make my own 🙂 My sister makes the most insane fish tacos cause she deep fries the fish fillets and even makes her own corn tortillas but I can’t do that so the store bought flour tortillas have to make do.

I’ve tried many variations but the one below is probably the best paired together. The picture has mango which is a nice addition but it can be hard to fine sweet mangoes in Calgary.

This is best done on the barbecue grill because you can get those nice grill marks when the tortillas are toasted plus if i can get by being lazy with dishes, you bet I will be.

Fish Tacos

Yield: 6 Tacos

Prep Time: 1.5 hours

Cook Time: 20 mins

Ingredients

The Fish

  • 1lb tilapia fillets (~ 4 fillets)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon brown sugar
  • dash of cayenne pepper

The Salsa

  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • ¼ red onion, fine chopped
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • parsley, chopped and to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Additional (optional)

  • ½ avocado, thinly sliced

Steps

The Salsa

  1. Roast your jalapeno over your gas stove or use your broiler until the skin is charred. Set aside for it to cool
  2. Combine tomatoes, garlic, lime, red pepper, olive oil. season with salt, pepper and parsley to taste
  3. WEAR GLOVES! Remove the charred jalapeno skin and step. Cut in half and remove the seeds
  4. Chopped the jalapeno until fine. Add half of it to the other ingredients and taste. Add more until the desired heat is reached.
  5. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate it for an hour for flavour infusion.

The Fish

  1. Heat your barbecue and wipe clean the grills with paper towel.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, cumin, salt, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of your tilapia fillets, and then rub the seasonings in.
  3. Spray a baking pan liberally with a cooking spray. make sure your pan fits on the grill.
  4. Once heated, place your tilapia in the baking sheet and cook till is no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Remove the fish onto a plate and cover with foil.
  6. Remove the baking sheet. Careful! it’s hot

Assembly

  1. Warm your tortillas on the barbecue until crisp or you see grill marks.
  2. Place tortillas on a serving board.
  3. Add avocado first then divide the tilapias equally.
  4. Top with salsa and mango.
  5. Drizzle with some lime juice
  6. Serve with chips and the remaining salsa as a side

Salsa recipe from Alton Brown

Fish taco recipe from Hostthetoast