Welsh reservists from 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment have enjoyed and endured an eventful training experience on Exercise Northern Black Maple in the Canadian Rockies.
After a busy period of activities that took them from Battle Camp in Sennybridge to exercises in the Ukraine, the reserve unit delivered a 10 day Adventurous Training package out of Trails End Camp (TEC) in Alberta, Canada.
14 paratroopers were given a chance to do something other than war-craft and they disappeared deep into Canada’s North West territories. Some tackled the Ghost, Red Deer and Kananaskis Rivers and the rest forged a path down the mountain biking trails of Canmore and Banff National Park.
The kayakers started in slow moving water, where they mastered self-help and how to rescue others. After learning the basics, they progressed to faster flowing stretches and after numerous twists and capsizes, they headed 10km downstream on Kananaskis River.
Meanwhile, the mountain bikers began by learning maintenance and tail riding skills in the Canmore Nordic Centre. Harder and more complex trails awaited them in Banff National Park but they were rewarded with its stunning scenery.
After a two hour drive to Red Deer River, the kayakers took on a challenging 26km experience. There was narrow margin for error and when the everlasting question of ‘are we there yet?’ was satisfied at the next camp site, two reservists had a close encounter with a bear to keep them on their toes.
Weather conditions drastically turned at this stage, which saw 26 degree heat plummet to temperatures hovering just above freezing. The bikers adapted their clothes and technical riding skills as water levels rose for the kayakers, ensuring their K2F Kayaking qualification was well-earned.
Mountain bikers spent their last day headed to the Star Wars site to negotiate the Return of the Jedi route. One reservist found himself tailgated by a certain Greg Minnaar… only a Mountain Biking World Champion, who graciously posed for photos.
The trip was part-funded by the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales Welsh Reserve and Cadets Fund.
On return to the United Kingdom, the reservists had enhanced their everyday lives through adventurous and challenging experiences. Adventurous Training is a key military training activity which supports operational effectiveness and the ethos of the Army.