What 252 Days Entails…

If the mood should strike you, here is a 20 minute (ish) slide show that attempts to summarize our adventure. Get the popcorn ,a cup of tea, plug in the speakers, and dim the lights! Enjoy!http://www.kizoa.com/embed-17220298-P125529821o2l1

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The Wonderous Winds of Wyoming

From the moment we stepped onto the CDT we have heard about the Winds. It is everyone’s favorite.  And I think it might have been ours. Just have a look:

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A jackolope (world’s largest!) in Duboise. The town before the Winds.

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Hunting is kind of a big deal here.

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Entering the Winds. I don’t think we’re in sage brush country anymore, Toto.

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Did I mention how high they are? Giants! This is on the summit of Winifred Peak – 12 700ft.  That’s higher than this:

Summit of Clemenceau.  All the way back in May.

Summit of Clemenceau. The fourth highest in the Canadian Rockies. This was all the way back in May.

And 200 ft less than Mount Robson. Say WHAT!?

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Summit of Winifred Peak with American Legion to the right.

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See the snowy peak in the background – that’s Gannett Peak, it’s a 13 000er AND the highest point in Wyoming.

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Climbing Baldy Pass.

DSC02838Summit of Mount Baldy.

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Gannett Peak again on the left.

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Group summit shot. Jake pointing out his baldness on baldy… (roll eyes).

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Summit of Texas Pass and entering the Cirque of the Towers. Wow! Just wow!

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Pingora Peak.

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Cirque of the Towers.

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Jake and the Towers.

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Looking towards a stormy future.

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Summit of East Temple Peak.

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Our last day in the Winds.

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Nevertheless,  the good times didn’t end there. We found two beers in a stream. Sure they were covered in algae and faded. But they still tasted amazing.

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Our ride into Lander during a blizzard. They didn’t have room for both Jake and myself inside, so we took turns being outside. I think I put on every single piece of clothing I owned afterwards.

Goodbye Montana

I have always wanted to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone, I just never thought I’d walk there. Even though I haven’t seen it yet, we are only 20 miles from Yellowstone and Wyoming.  Well Montana, it’s been fun. Even though your part of the divide is like a maniac roller coaster on steroids, it has been unforgettable and beautiful. Here are some pictures of the rest of our time in Montana:

DSC02566I don’t even remember what mountain this is. Let’s say it’s Mount Blah Blah.

DSC02561On top of Fish Peak in the Pintler Wilderness

DSC02560On Queener Mountain. Also in the Pintler Wilderness.

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DSC02564Feeling blue (but not the sad kind). Descending to Cutaway Pass.

DSC02538Nothing like drying out gear in a parking lot. We even had people come up and ask if we were selling sleeping bags. Oh dear…

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Celebratory food on Mt. Tiny. Our 50th summit of the trip thus far. We had cider (of course), gorganzola,  potato salad, and pita. Mmmm.

DSC02549For most of September we have just slept out under the stars. And cooking over a fire. It has been wonderful. DSC02703Good Morning!

DSC02654An approaching storm. Good thing we have sage brush to hide under…Sigh.

DSC02639Bannock Pass.

DSC02675At least there is no bush whacking and you can see three days ahead. Yay for sage brush and desert! Who needs water anyways?

DSC02670In many places, the divide is never ending sage brush hills (really really high ones, some are over 3000m!).

DSC02640A road in the sky.

DSC02669In Southwestern Montana,  most of the divide follows the Idaho border.

DSC02672Oh no. It’s not hot. It’s quite cool, with all the shade you can see…

DSC02673Our route.

DSC02693Sadly, in some places up to 50% of the forest is dead due to the pine beatle. Most likely, the same will happen to the forests around Jasper one day. I worry.

DSC02668Enjoying breakfast on our 150th day.

DSC02700Summit of Jefferson Mountain.

DSC02707Although this spot doesn’t look significant, it is.This is Brower’s Spring. From here, water travels 6275 km to the ocean via the Missouri/Mississippi River. This is its ultimate headwaters.  When we were there the spring was dry, I hope the Mississippi is still flowing…

Through “The Bob”

The last section took us through the Bob Marshall Wilderness, located in Montana. “The Bob” combined with neighbouring Scapegoat Wilderness and the Lewis and Clark National Forest is the wildest region in the USA (excluding Alaska, obs). 

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The trail network was excellent! It was great to be out of the National Parks and be able to random camp. Yay to no permits! 

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Going up Family Peak. While “the Bob” is very pretty, much of the CDT route follows valley bottoms. It was great to be back in the alpine. 

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Much of the area has been recently burned. While it allowed beautiful views and crazy high fireweed, it offered little protection during the rain (And boy, did it ever rain, we should have brought snorkels. After a few days of a biblical flood, trench foot became a concern). 

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Walking along the Chinese Wall amongst a sea of Bear Grass. 

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Hello Mr. Caterpillar, the earth says hello.

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 A fire singed CDT sign – lots of forest fires, remember?

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We ran into hikers with llamas. Now that would be the life…Maybe on the next hike. Just imagine, no backpacks and able to bring fancy food. Bring on the seven layer cheese cake!

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Summit of Lick Mountain. As we work our way South, the tree line gets higher and higher. This is at almost 2400 meters! 

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We ran into some awesome ranchers. They had us over for some drinks and munchies. They gave us more food to take (including sausages!). When we mentioned that we got 8 holes in our socks that day (“The Bob” turned our clothing into rags!), they snuck a couple socks into our packs. Huzzah!

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Leaving “The Bob” for drier country.

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The rain soon turned to snow. Goodbye summer. You will be greatly missed! Let us hope for a dry warm fall. Esp in Colorado…

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A Miss Allie Strel came down for a visit. Although it was short, we still had a marvelous time!

The Continental Divide Trail

The crossing into the USA was far easier than expected. They asked no questions and only took note of our passport numbers – and gave Jake a written warning for having bear bangers. While you are allowed to carry guns in the national parks in the US, heaven forbid you have a flare pen. Glacier National Park is a beautiful and rugged place. See for yourself!

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The start of the CDT.  Only 4 996km to go…Perhaps we should have taken up video gaming instead. At least our clothes wouldn’t wear out and the feet wouldn’t hurt.

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Entering the USA.

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Jake’s friend Erika met us in Waterton and hiked across the border with us. As you can see, the vegetation is quite high. In some places it goes beyond 2 Liams. Thank you for spending sometime with us Erika!

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We also went up Bertha Peak with Erika. Even on our “days off” we go up mountains. Sigh. If only there were more movie theaters in the countryside. And buffets.

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On the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park.

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Hiking through a garden.

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The national parks in the USA are different. For example, they use explosives to make platforms on snow slopes to make it easier for walking…Hmmm makes one wonder if they have too much money to spend?

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Why hello there. A goat on the way up Swiftcurrent Mountain.

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Summit of Cataract Mountain.

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We have gone from making bread, scones, and dosas in Canada to frying pop tarts in butter in the US. It can be hard finding food in a gas station for a week!  It was still the highlight of the day!

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 Some wild onions. A welcome break from pop tarts!

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 A flower worthy of taking note.

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Wonderful Tim’s Potato Chips. Only 900 calories worth…I don’t even recall what an apple tastes like.

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Summit of McClintocks

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Going up Mt. Morgan. It’s slightly tight.

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Going up Mt.  Sinopah.

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Summit of Mt. Sinopah

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A view down the ridge

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Our bathing situation at the moment.

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How the town of East Glacier Park got put on “the map”.

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Hmmm. Excellent timing! Liam lost his spork! Maybe he can replace it with one here…

Chicken Fried Steak and Krispy Kreme Donuts are in the Air – The USA Border

Well Folks – we made it. We are finally staring  across the border at the the USA. After three month (gulp!), we are 1/6 of the way to Mexico…With some luck and a lot of pain (Our.Feet.Hurt), we just may make it to the land of sunshine and lollipops around Christmas time. Here are some pictures of the stretch between Banff and Waterton.

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Our first night out from Banff. We may have left civilisation, but that doesn’t mean we have to live like savages. 🙂

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Summit of Mt. Allenby. Due to poor trail conditions, we never got to hike through Assiniboine. And due to weather, we never even got a view of the park…Drat it!

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Bryant Creek Warden Station. As already mentioned, our feet hurt. Sssttrrrreeettttccchhhhh it out!

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We met Liam’s dad at Spray Lakes. He came along with us for another section – from Spray Lakes to Kananaskis Lakes. He brought a strawberry rhubarb pie! Yum!

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A little sit down. Photo by Laurens Put

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Photo by Laurens Put

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I see you! Going up Mt. Stark, with Spray Lakes in the background. Photo by Laurens Put.

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Still going up Mt. Stark. Photo Laurens Put.

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All of us on the summit of Mt. Shark, with Mt. Sir Douglas in the background.

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Liam and Jake knitting at camp. No judging! Someone has to be mother…

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We had a German hiker, named Franz,  join us for a portion. His dressing habits were slightly peculiar…

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Palliser Pass – The border of Banff.

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Cooking Stinging Nettles. We had them with coconut oil, salt and pepper. They were superb!

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We hired a camp cook named Grinny. However, after the trial period, we had to let him go. His eggs were dry, the pancakes mush, and everything came with carrots. He even refused to cook meat. He’s lucky we didn’t put him in a stew.

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However, there were no hard feelings after getting fired. After all , Grinny and his wife, Gwvera, are world famous climbing rabbits.

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A time vortex?

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A night under the stars.

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Going up North Kananaskis Pass in Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, surrounded by Glacier Lillies. Simply fantastic!

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North Kananaskis Pass – Going into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

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Cooking some Dosa’s. Mmmmmm. Life is Good!

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Dosa’s and Curry in the Sun.

 

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Liams Dad on the summit ridge of Mt. Jellicoe in Peter Lougheed.

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Liam and his Dad on the Ridge

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Playing hacky-sack

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We have another Birthday – Liams! For breaky, Jake prepared garlic toast fried in bacon fat (drool), with beans, fried egg, and béarnaise sauce (made also with bacon fat). Talk about a heart stopper!

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Purple Scorpion Weed

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Crocus

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Birthday Lunch on the Summit of Mt. Indefatigable: Bread, hummus, olives, and very ripe blue cheese.

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Group picture on Indefatigable

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More Norwegian Candy from a Mr. Andreas!

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Jake starting the main feast for the Birthday – Poutine! He is actually making fries from whole potatoes on a camping stove…Epic!

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A poutine with a twist – cheddar curds and miso gravy. It was fantastic! Thank You Jake!

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The dessert: Caramel cake with bananas, melted white and milk chocolate, and condensed milk. It was teeth shattering!

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Time for Liam’s Dad to go. He hitched a ride back to his car, while carrying three ice axes. You just never know when you might need three…

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Now there were just two. The trail we wanted to take through Elk Lakes Provincial Park was closed due to the flooding last year…resulting in more road walking….Sigh.

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The route was still fantastic!

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Jake making scones. Liam and Jake are still following the philosophy of “bring the kitchen sink”, resulting in their backpacks being massively obese and having enough food to survive a war. Due to the flooding last year, many access roads between Banff and Coleman are closed. Therefore we couldn’t make a food cache…so we just carried over 15 days of food (Sob).

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Along the road beside Elk River

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The last of the Norwegian Candy on the Summit of Riverside. Thank You Mr. Andreas!

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Summit of Mt. Riverside.

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Jake caught fish!

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A tasty Bar-B-Q!

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The day we went over the mountain by accident. We zigged, when we should have zagged. Instead of going up the gentle slope to Fording River Pass, we went up Mt. Shankland with over 10 days of food. And so we discovered something quite interesting – heavy backpacks make mountain ascents harder and very unpleasant. Who would have thought!

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Knitting at camp.

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Summit of MacLaren.

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Descending MacLaren

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Jake collecting Wild Onion and Oxyria digyna to add to the soup!

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Summit of Mt. Bolton, with the pass-we-never-went-to below (Fording River).

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We are finally on the Official Great Divide Trail! The trail is 95 km, stretching from North Fork Pass to Fording River Pass. The idea for the Great Divide Trail was first proposed by the  Girl Guides of Canada in the 1960’s. It was constructed in the 1970’s by volunteers, with the hope that the trail would eventually stretch from Waterton to beyond Jasper. However, the dream sadly died. While the Great Divide Trail had provincial support, it never received support from Parks Canada. So the route was never completed and the trail never finished. Now, the 95 km is little more than a faint game trail, going over ridges and along crests. Nevertheless, from time to time volunteers do trail work and keep the dream alive. Hopefully one day, Parks Canada will recognise the Great Divide Trail, and it will be signed/built from Waterton to Jasper and beyond. Liam and Jake would like to thank the awesome volunteers that have maintained the trail over the years!

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Interestingly the GDT goes along logging cuts. The logging companies “generously” used the GDT as a boundary.

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Thank you MEC!

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An old GDT sign. This sign pretty much sums up the GDT – old, faded, but still there.

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Following the GDT along the edge of the mountains. Fantastic!

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Entering the Beehive Natural Area.

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Going up Beehive Mountain.

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Summit of Beehive Mountain.

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“I don’t believe we’re in the parks anymore, Toto”…

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Still on the Summit of Beehive…No wonder it took us 3 months to get to Waterton! Yikes!

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Camping below Beehive.

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It got a tad muddy in sections…

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Going up Tornado Shoulder. We had no idea where the fires were…we just hoped the road ahead wasn’t burning!

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Summit of Mt. Tornado.

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Descending Mt. Tornado.

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Some trash left by ATV’ers. At least they got the “ocean-wise” seafood.

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Making bread and gluten free tea biscuits (Damn you flashylabels! They tasted almost like sand!)

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The Seven Sisters and Crowsnest Mountain.

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Messing around in the town – Coleman. This picture was taken before we silently slipped into a TV coma in our cheap motel room. We watched re-runs on the food network. It. Was. AWESOME!

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The knitting products. Not bad, eh?

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Walking along Willoughby Ridge. The area burnt in 2003. It was really neat and the first time this trip that we went through a burn. Since we were in Coleman during the weekend, the post office was closed. So we kept carrying the 14 maps all the way from Banff…What’s another 150 km?

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Crossing the Castle River. Brrrrr!

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Summit of Southforks Mountain.

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A Mr. Liam with Castle Peak in the background.

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Camping on Barnaby Ridge. Brilliant!

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At Camp.

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The View.

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Sunrise.

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The route ahead along the ridge.

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Bear Grass. Waterton is covered in it.

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Summit of La Coulotte Peak.

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And the summit of La Coulotte Ridge.

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More Ridge Walking. We are heading towards the “castley” looking mountain on the left.

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Summit of Font Mountain.

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Approaching Waterton National Park. The storm in the picture outlines the park boundary. Great. Just Great…

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Summit of Mt. Carthew. Liam went up here, while he waited for Jake. Even though Jake was right behind Liam, he got confused and went right, when he should have gone left.  Thinking it would waste too much time looking at the map (Smart guy, eh?), Jake boldly pushed on, going the wrong way. It wasn’t until he ran into the Parks trail crew, he learned of his mistake. How embarrassing…(for him, Liam was having a grand ol’time).

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Barbed Wire to collect bear hair samples. They are everywhere! We would be completely in the middle of no-where, following little more then a faint trail, when we would stumble across one of these.

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Huzzah! Waterton!! And the USA border within sight!

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Jake’s mom and a friend met us in Waterton. They brought some goodies!! 🙂 Even though Liam looks fat, he has actually lost almost 10 pounds…(its the beard and the backpack hunch).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And We’re Off (Again)!

We have spent the last little while around Banff and Calgary, getting ready for the “final push” to the US border. Sorting food drops (its damn hard planning 25 days of eating, especially for “foodies”), getting some new gear, and working on the route. Thankfully it is all done (or at least close enough). And so – with our packs filled with delicatessens (Another birthday approaching…Blast it all! Perhaps we should just chew on willows instead…) and wool for knitting (Do your worst Mother Nature!), we head off into the mountains. Talk soon(ish)!

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Thank you Patrick, Julia, and Laurens for hosting us in Banff. It was most tremendous!

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Thank you Yael for letting us stay in your humble abode in Calgary. And not minding while we took over your house with boxes and boxes of food…(Sorry).

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25 Days of food. Liam is already counting down the days to Spam (Dont.Judge.Him! He has to spend all his time with a vegetarian! We hardly gets any bacon fat! Er!)!

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A small side trip with friends up Yamnuska.

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Nothing better than a slice of Russian rye with Cheshire cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, fresh dill, and sun chips. Eh?

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With friends (Vishnu and Armi) on the summit of Yamnuska. Thank you for an awesome day!

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Mustache trimming time!

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With more friends (Raf and Laurens) on the summit of Little Lougheed. Another tremendous day!

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Jake’s dad and Janet came to visit us in Banff as well! They took us out for dinner and a lift to Calgary! Thanks guys!

 

 

Almost Half Way to the USA (Oh Dear…) – Banff!

Brick by Brick dear citizens we are working our way South. Yesterday in the rain and mist we walked down the Norquay ski hill road and tromped into Banff. Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we woke up in our tent, we had a few mornings like that, and they all ended quite similar this. We didn’t leave the tent…We don’t like rain either, Newman:    It was sardine packed with people and overwhelming. The solitude of the mountains and forests were gone, replaced by cars and troops of Japanese tourists looking for postcards and ice cream. People stared at our large packs, snow shoes, and sweat stained shirts.  At least Banff has poutine and apple cider – Thank Goodness! Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this section. Here are some more pictures and stories. Enjoy!

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Camping by Boulder Pass into Skoki. What a view!

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On our way up Mt. Redoubt. It was a spectacular summit and quite enjoyable with snow/ice and lots of scrambling. Yeehaw!

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The Summit ridge of Anthozoan Mountain.

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On the Summit of Brachiopod with Mt. Redoubt on the Left and Ptarmigan Peak on the Right.

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Clouds of Darkness above Ptarmigan Peak.

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At camp on the Second Day with Brachiopod Mountain in the Background.

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Jake celebrated his 25th Birthday on this section. We decided to make “surprise” meals for each other on our birthdays. So I spent over 2 hours outside in the wind, with a poor excuse for a frying pan, making Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf French Toast, with Pineapple Greek Yogurt and Caramel. It tasted Amazing (despite the look)!

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More Candy from Norway! Thank You Andreas!

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Birthday Apple Cider on the Summit of Tilted Mountain.

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Summit of Tilted Mountain.

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The Birthday meals continue! For Dinner we had 2L of wine (which partly explains why Liam’s backpack was dreadful), stuffed tomatoes with blue cheese, zucchini eggs benedict, and fire cooked cornbread.

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And for dessert – Hobnob crust with caramel, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream. Liam forgot candles, so we lit a pine branch instead.

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On the top of Pulsatilla Pass. Looks like a lot of snow down there…oh yes. Lots and lots of snow. Good things we left our skis in Lake Louise (Damn-It-All!).

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Oh-Dear-Goodness-The-Lid-Of-The-Parmesan-Cheese-Came-Off-Must-Lick-It-Up-Before-It-Makes-It-To-My-Dirty-Socks!

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We found a twenty (and new camera functions)! It was actually surprising how much money we have found. By Saskatchewan Crossing we found $0.50, $20.00 on the Johnston Creek Trail, and $13.75 at Norquay Ski-Hill. Big expectations for the next section. Big expectations…

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People tracks! The first we have seen during our entire trip.

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Going up Mystic Pass.

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A Warden’s cabin on 40 Mile Summit Trail.

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Going up Mt. Brewster.

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More Norwegian Candy on the top of Mt. Brewster!

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Snow shoeing up Mt. Cockscomb. Darn things! Jake and Liam had done little snowshoeing before this. They found them generally awkward (felt like their pants were around their ankles), and constantly worried that they would break their ankles. Why anyone would snowshoe instead of ski we cannot imagine…

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On the Summit of Mt. Cockscomb.

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Likewise.

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Looking towards Banff with Mt. Louise and Fifi in front and Rundle in the background.

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Whatever you do, don’t look down (too late!) – it’s more than one Liam deep!

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We had a splendid day on Mt. Norquay, as you can tell by the rain and mist. However, the weather soon greatly improved, with pouring rain and thicker fog. At least we found enough change on the ski-hill slopes for beers in Banff! 🙂