Distance: 21 miles
Start: 7:15 am
Stop: 4 pm
Others Here: Coyote, Backtrack
Camp: Back in Jasper
The completion entry is the most difficult for me to write. I always have such mixed feelings. On one hand, I am happy to be finished, but on the other, I wish I could still be walking. This time, however, the feeling of relief outweighs the other feelings … at least for now.
We awoke early to reach the Smokey River as soon as possible. Morning is the best time to cross because there is less snowmelt overnight and the river will be at its lowest. It did, however, rain all night which made me a bit nervous about the crossing. We did the three miles to the crossing in something over an hour and began scouting the river. Just where the trail met the river was wide and swift with a deep channel. I noticed tree stumps rising from the river that showed a water line about 3 feet above the current level. Anyway, we found a spot upstream where the river braided into 4 or 5 parts that looked less formidable. Backtrack led the way and we crossed the braids. I think it was 5 braids. It didn’t get above mid thigh, but was quite swift in a spot or two. The water was ice cold and resulted in painful feet on the other side. It took literally a mile of walking to feel my feet again.
The trail rapidly improved after crossing the river now that we were on the Berg Lake Trail and eventually became a wide gravel path. We made great time on this breezy trail. A few miles down we stopped at an enclosed hut to warm up where we met John and ?? They were very interested in our hike and John had done the John Muir Trail. Yote asked if they happened to be heading our way. One thing led to another and they offered to drive us to Jasper if we were still at the visitor centre when they got down. The hut got quiet when Yote described the river crossing and another group offered us food and hot drinks. One lady in particular seemed quite concerned. I suppose we made a sorry spectacle with our torn rain pants, and generally beaten down appearance.
After warming up in the cabin, we were all reinvigorated to make our way the remaining 14 or so miles to the visitor centre. It was easy walking and the clouds lifted enough to see a tiny bit of Berg Glacier and Mount Robson.
We were only at the visitor centre about 30 minutes before John and (wish i could remember her name) came down. In a whirlwind, we were in their car and on our way back to Jasper via a pit stop in Valemont. They were such a nice couple from Virginia who were hiking many of the highlights of our trip but by car.