Lift Accessed Hiking with Jono Leonard

The hiking program at Fernie Alpine Resort is becoming more and more popular these days, with the recent addition of Nature Bob’s Interpretive Centre, guided nature hikes, and specialty hikes (focusing on fossils, wildflowers, or trees). New this year, the resort will have bird watching programs, and off-site hikes and heritage tours. Another new hiking experience this summer is called “Forage and Feast” - our naturalist will lead you on a foraging walk to harvest food from the forest, which will then be incorporated into the Chef ’s creation for your evening meal at the Cirque Restaurant!

Bob Livsey (Nature Bob) has been instrumental in this increased interest in hiking and nature programming at the resort. Nature Bob has been guiding hikers of all ages around the resort for over 14 years. Last summer, Jono Leonard was hired on as the resort’s second hiking guide/naturalist. Bob and Jono’s knowledge and passion for the outdoors is contagious - every time I chat with either one of them, I find out a new little nature fact, and am inspired to get out there to hike and learn!

Here’s a little bit about our newest hiking guide – Jono Leonard.

1. Where are you from?
I am from and grew up on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia.

2. What did you do before coming to Fernie?
I studied geophysics at school and worked lots of jobs such as a research and teaching assistant. My parents encouraged me to get outside, be active and keep trying new things - principles I try to live by now.

3. When and why did you come to Fernie?
I came to Fernie in 2015. Like most Australians I came for the skiing but fell in love with the area after the snow melted. I chose Fernie because it was recommended by a friend who lived in the mountains. It was exactly what I wanted. Great skiing, great town and not as touristy as other mountain towns can be.

4. What jobs have you had since you’ve been in Fernie?
I currently work as a naturalist and hiking guide with Nature Bob up here at the ski hill. In winter I work with the Winter Sports School as a ski instructor. You might also see me bringing out your food at The Pub at the Park Place Lodge.

5. What’s your favourite activity to do on your days off?
Believe it or not, hiking. I love doing overnight trips way out into the wilderness. The nature around here truly is amazing and there’s no better way to see it than getting as far away from civilization as possible. I also have a goal to ski every month of the year in Canada, so I’ll be doing plenty of ski touring too.

6. What is your favourite hiking trail at FAR? What are the highlights of this hike?
This is a hard question as the resort has so much diversity. There is great hiking over all three life zones: montane, subalpine and alpine. My favourite hike would have to be the ridge walk from Lost Boys to Polar Peak. You start on the Lost Boys Pass trail where you walk past colourful subalpine meadows. From here you ascend up the Timber Headwall towards Elephant Head, walk right across the top of the Currie Headwall all the way to Polar Peak. The views along here are absolutely stunning! One fun fact that a lot of people don’t know is that the saddle between the Currie Headwall and Polar Peak is made up of a type of rock that marks a mass extinction event from about 370 million years ago, which may have been caused by plants with roots first appearing on land!

Nature Bob’s favourite hike (and my second favourite) is the Old Growth Grove, which is located at the bottom of Cedar bowl. This forest is special as we’ve lost nearly all our Old Growth Forest around Fernie to logging or fire. Some of the trees here are up to 800 years old and 33 feet in diameter. This hike is also much easier on the body, so if you’re not quite up for the more strenuous ridge walk, definitely check out the Old Growth Grove (or any of our awesome hiking trails for that matter). If you’re interested in learning more about the nature, I highly recommend booking a hike with myself or Nature Bob. We can show you lots of cool things you may have just walked right past if you were hiking on your own.