Grande Cache is a hamlet within the Rocky Mountains surrounded by three river valleys. We sat down with Curtis Hallock, owner of Indian Trail Adventures, to ask him about trail riding and Indigenous culture in the region.
Tell us a little about yourself and your life here in Grande Cache.
Hi. My name is Curtis. I was born and raised here in Grande Cache. I grew up hunting, trapping, and living off the land. Growing up here as a youth into a young teenager and into my adulthood, I came across a lot of challenges. It was my connectedness to the land and the animals which have carried me through. Now, starting Indian Trail Adventures, I get to share my story with other people.
Our region here, it’s nearly untouched. It’s pristine. We have rugged trails. Having wilderness at your doorstep is a new adventure every day. I feel lucky and honoured that my people chose to live here. My backyard extends for thousands of kilometres, so much to offer, each valley, each mountain top.
It’s certainly a beautiful place. What’s the weather like here?
Our weather here is … I’d consider it mild to moderate.
Our spring, it’s beautiful. We have chinooks flowing in, followed by some high winds.
Our summertime, it’s beautiful. On our hot summer days, the best place to cool down are some of our local lakes like Victor Lake, Grande Cache Lake, Pierre Grey’s Lakes, Mason Creek. We also have a number of streams.
Our fall time, it’s great for the outdoorsman. We have great walking trails with trails leading to trails that are never-ending.
In one season, we prepare for the next in our hunting and gathering, so in spring, we’ll prepare for summer adventures. In summer, we’ll prepare for harvest crops, and for fall, we’ll prepare for the long winter. In wintertime, we’ll sew our moccasins and do it all over again.
You said you grew up hunting and trapping. What kinds of wildlife can visitors expect to find here?
Our most common wildlife here is whitetail deer, elk, moose, black bear, squirrels, and many types of birds like ruffed grouse.
And it’s rare, but it’s also possible to see a wolverine, cougar, and mountain goats.
Can you tell us a little about the AWN and your heritage?
Grande Cache was established in 1969, and our people still practice their cultural ways of beading, tanning hides, harvesting.
There’s one story I hear about from the elders, and that was the great battle we had way back in the day, just over my shoulder back there. Our neighbouring tribe, the Blackfoot, came over to invade, and we held our ground and fended them off. We’re still here today.
AWN is a society created to help its people here. AWN stands for Aseniwuche Winewak Nation, or Rocky Mountain in Cree; Rocky Mountain People. Our four cooperatives and two enterprises, Muskeg River, Susa Creek, Grande Cache Lake, Victor Lake, Joachim, and Wanyandie form the AWN.
For activities here in the region, we have Youth Connections. They do fashion shows and jingle dress dancing. We have our Hide A Way Camp and our Traditional Land Use Camp. These are all activities that are open to the public.
That’s fantastic. Are there any other activities that you’d recommend to visitors?
To find out about experiences in the Grande Cache and Grande Cache region, you can go to our local tourism center, our Willmore Wilderness Foundation, our AWN office, and some of our entrepreneurs, such as myself, with Indian Trail Adventures.
What are some of your favourite things about living in Grande Cache? What makes it unique?
One of my favourite aspects of this region is our people, our local natives. They’re artisans, singers, dancers, and storytellers. We still hunt and gather. In my backcountry outfitting, I do a lot of cultural camps that teach our youth about the basics of the land – what to watch for, and how to respect the animals.
I’d recommend that you check out our Youth Connections and our Traditional Land Use Camps for activities. You could check out our Mountain Métis webpage and our AWN webpage. Some of our greatest experiences are in our greater outdoors, where you would hire an outfitter.
Is there anything that surprises visitors when they come to Grande Cache for the first time?
I think the biggest misconception is that Grande Cache has nothing to do. The region has much more to offer than meets the eye. You have to be outdoorsy. You have to seek and pursue. A lot of my greatest adventures are like going through hell and reaching a bit of heaven.
And a lot of people say Grande Cache has everything that Jasper and Banff have to offer, but without the crowds. Do you agree?
The great thing about Grande Cache and the region is the number of people. There’s a lot of solitude here if that’s what you seek.
You come here for the real deal, the outdoor adventure experience. It’s the true mountaineer experience. Our trails are ruggedly good. Coming to Grande Cache, you get the true wilderness feeling, the clean water and the fresh air, the abundant wildlife and rustic accommodations.