Distance: 27.5 trail miles; 13.5 miles hiked
Elevation: 5791 ft
Others Here: Coyote, Backtrack
The guidebook recommends either slack packing or hitching the road walk on very busy hwy 16. Yote and I had hoped to slack pack those 12 miles but ran out of time because we didn’t find accommodations in town until 8pm. So we all agreed to hitch the road miles out of town to the trailhead. It’s the first time all of my steps are not connected on a thru hike, but I can live with it.
There is an interesting dynamic that often occurs when hiking in a group and because I’ve been slower than the others on this hike, I’ve fallen prey on more than one occasion. Individually, I’m certain we would have each checked the map, but as a group we must have each assumed the others had, and we started hitchhiking the wrong direction. Thankfully, Sheila was out walking her dog, Henry, and asked us where we were headed. Not only did she point us in the right direction but she offered to drive us to the trail head if we walked home with her. A certain ride is not to be passed up, so we followed her home. Once there, she handed out containers and set us to picking raspberries while she got ready. None of them made it out of the yard with us. Well, not in the containers anyway. Sheila and Henry then drove us out to the trailhead without even a complaint about the hour we had to spend in construction traffic. I’m thankful we started out wrong, otherwise we would not have met Sheila who was the day’s highlight.
Once on the trail, it was easy and pleasant walking for a bit on an old roadbed. A good start for this section, right? Unfortunately, this didn’t last and the bipolar GDT served up yucky muddy brushy trail and light rain. Before the day was over, I was jealous of Antoine’s finish in jasper and pushing back a wish that I had done the same. It was very slow progress trudging along for the remainder of the day. I learned at camp that the others were having the same thoughts. Today turned out to be all about hiking in mud and muck whilst getting whacked in the face by willows.
I don’t think I have mentioned that according to several different sources, this is the rainiest summer for the Canadian Rockies in recorded history (since the early 1920s). I seem to end up doing this trails in the wet years. Maybe that gives me bragging rights offer something. Right now I’d trade them for 10 good clear days that would enable a push on to Kakwa. Oh well, hopefully I’ll get to come back for Kakwa and also the six passes alternate.
Sorry no photos today due to the weather.