A Day On the CDT and the Life of a Long Distance Hiker

There is hiking and then there is hikingHiking is what most people know. A nice day stroll to a meadow or lake with some comforts, such as a picnic lunch and lounging in the sun. Some may even be more adventurous and go hiking for an over-nighter or two. Hiking by comparison is quite different. See for yourself:

There is nothing worse than meeting someone on the trails with a far lighter/smaller pack. Nat or "Rainer" (See below) carried  30L. Liam carries 105L. He carried no tent. He had no stove. And I very much doubt we carried enough yarn to even knit three sweaters...

There is nothing worse than meeting someone on the trails with a far lighter/smaller pack. Nate or “Rainer” (See below) carried 30 L (A fellow through hiker. A through hiker is someone who hikes the CDT in one calendar year). Liam carries 105 L. He carried no tent. He had no stove. And I very much doubt we carried enough yarn to even knit three sweaters…

First, the size of the backpack. Hikers don’t have large backpacks, forgoing many luxuries. Some have no tent, only a tarp. Some even carry no stove, just a peanut butter jar. When you are within an hour of where you wish to camp, you add cold water to Mr. Noodles. It slowly hydrates…The ends of toothbrushes are sawn, clothing labels torn off, and pages of books burned after reading. They become obsessed with weight and the never-ending-battle to carry less. It takes over your life…

Liam "Muppet" Harrap

Liam “Muppet” Harrap

Jake "Ducky" Alleyne

Jake “Ducky” Alleyne

Hikers have trail names. Traditionally, you are named by someone else. Each name has a story attached to it. So far, we have met Rainer, Snowplow, Birdy, Viking, Chili, Pepper, Tibetan (He likes to read about Budda) and Strider (He has llooonngg graceful legs). Sometimes you don’t even learn people’s real names.

Muppet (Or Liam)  apparently has a hair problem at the moment. Ducky (Known by Jake to Some) waddles down the trail.

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We usually do around 30 miles a day (40 – 50 km).

What we look like after 50km.

What we look like after 50km.

Mileage! Mileage! Mileage! People think we have a lot of spare time during the day. We don’t. We go from dark to dark. If I get my half an hour to knit, write, and read at the end of the day before falling into a sleep coma, I’m happy. Most hikers do between 35 – 60 km a day. Hmmm no wonder my feet are falling apart (See below).

Sadly, this is after a "good" day. I use to have pretty feet. But alas! No more. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm getting  a pedicure when this is over!

Sadly, this is after a “good” day. I use to have pretty feet. But alas! No more. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m getting a pedicure when this is over!

Your feet fall apart. Rapidly.

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In order to contain the damage, hikers wear running shoes. I’mNeverWearingHikingBootsAGAIN! You try 50 km in hiking boots. Vile! Vile! Vile!

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At a buffet brunch in Helena.

You binge eat. You become obsessed with food. And given the opportunity, you can out eat anyone. We just ran into a hiker who went to a pizza buffet. After eating 28 slices, he was asked to leave. It reminded me of the Simpsons…Our life is a cartoon! http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yL9bPjkOc1Q

Foraging blueberries along the Chinese Wall in "The Bob".

Foraging blueberries along the Chinese Wall in “The Bob”.

Your only fruits and veg are what you can forage or really grab as you rush/pant by.

Saving some Kraft Dinner for later...

Saving some Kraft Dinner for later…

 

 

The horror at finding someone else's mustache hair in the corn...

The horror at finding someone else’s mustache hair in the corn…

You grow a beard. Carrying a shaver just isn’t worth it.

Greenhorn Mountain? GREENHORN MOUNTAIN?! IT SHOULDN'T BE THERE! IT WAS THERE 3 HOURS AGO! WHERE-THE-HELL-ARE-WE??!?

Greenhorn Mountain? GREENHORN MOUNTAIN?! IT SHOULDN’T BE THERE! IT WAS THERE 3 HOURS AGO! WHERE-THE-HELL-ARE-WE??!?

Expect to get lost. It can be hard to tell one sage bush covered hill from another. And navigating amongst backcountry roads is the worst!

Bushwacking near Howse Pass on the Great Divide Trail (Canada).

Bushwacking near Howse Pass on the Great Divide Trail (Canada).

Sometimes there isn’t any trail and you have to bushwack. Also known as character building.

Repairing socks at camp.

Repairing socks at camp.

Everything falls apart. Nature shows no mercy. Eventually, you begin to wear rags.

The worst guide book. Ever.  Not only does it weigh 300 pounds. But it is stuffed with redundant and useless information.  Such as walking single file on the trail, eat every 90 minutes, and don't litter. As this book is made for long distance hikers, it can be safe assumed that THEY ALREADY KNOW THIS! Even directions to some trailheads is useless. For example, the description to the Summit trailhead states, "I don't know where it is. Even though rangers said should it should be obvious' we could never find it. Maybe you will have better luck."  ....Thank you guide book. You have been an ENORMOUS help! NOT!

The worst guide-book. Ever. Not only does it weigh 300 pounds. But it is stuffed with redundant and useless information. Such as walking single file on the trail, eat every 90 minutes, and don’t litter. As this book is made for long distance hikers, it can be safely assumed that THEY ALREADY KNOW THIS! Even directions to some trailheads is useless. For example, in the description for the  Summit trailhead, the author admits, “I don’t know where it is. Even though rangers said it should be obvious we could never find it. Maybe you will have better luck.”….Thank you  Mr. Guide Book. You have been an ENORMOUS help! NOT! BURN FOR IT!

 

You struggle with guides. Eventually you become to realise that some of them are practically as useful as going blindfolded into the woods. Except they weigh more.

The horror of summer being over. Ah!

The horror at summer being over. Ah!

You are always racing Old Man Winter…Gah!

Looking into Waterton National Park, where a wall of rain/hail awaits...

Looking into Waterton National Park, where a wall of rain/hail awaits…

You hike through all kinds of weather. Rain, snow, or shine. Hopefully, just shine. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Hitching into a nearby town to resupply.

Hitching into a nearby town to resupply. However, the US is weird. We have had cars stop and before giving us a ride, they asked if we have any guns. “Oh yes. Of course we do. I mean, we saw the ends off our toothbrushes to save weight, but we still carry an arsenal. Just to be safe from those nasty nasty grizzlies.”

You depend on hitch hiking to towns to resupply. Think of the following the next time you drive past a hitch hiker. Perhaps he has walked to that very spot from another country. Perhaps this is the first time in weeks he has encountered people. Perhaps he’s hitching because his feet are blistered and bloodied. Perhaps its Friday and he desperately needs to get to the post office before it closes for the weekend. Perhaps he is in desperate need of cheesecake and beer.  Perhaps he doesn’t want to be there just as much as you don’t want to pick him up. Perhaps.

Mmmmm Good Morning World.

Mmmmm Good Morning World.

 

You have wet feet. For days. Hello trench foot.

Descending Mount Clemenceau.

Descending Mount Clemenceau.

People seem to always be keen to tell you about upcoming dangers. Avalanches, bears, cougars, getting lost, crazies, the borders, the mexican border (this one especially. We have had people tell us to walk through Texas instead of New Mexico. Of course they fail to realize that we are hiking. To walk to a neighbouring state instead would add weeks!), winter, snakes, and did I mention bears? DSC02514

Hikers become best friends with the postal system. You send things to yourself in the future. Such as maps and shoes. I have even heard of people mailing their backpack to themselves just a few miles down the road. Sometimes you get desperate and do the absurd.

Going along the divide in the Castle Wilderness, by Waterton. While its beautiful, but dry. Like a desert. You walk along on the roof of the world, with water water everywhere in view, but just out of reach.

Going along the divide in the Castle Wilderness, by Waterton. While its beautiful, but dry. Like a desert. You walk along on the roof of the world, with water water everywhere in view, but just out of reach.

Obviously, the CDT follows the divide. Water becomes a huge concern. Sometimes you don’t come across a single puddle for over 25km. Sigh.

Camping on Burnaby Ridge. One of our favorite camping spots.

Camping on Burnaby Ridge. One of our favorite camping spots.

You get to camp in amazing places.

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But no matter what the trail throws at you. You always have that cup of tea to look forward to at the end of the day.

Beers in Lake Louise after 40 days in the bush.

Beers in Lake Louise after 40 days in the bush.

And beers in the next town. Its moments like this that make you realize that all the unpleasantness at times is totally worth it. In the end, it’s one big grand adventure! Yeehaw!

A Short Interlude

Sometimes even grand adventures require a couple days off. Especially if it’s for a family wedding!

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Liam’s sister getting married in Peachland! She is now Mrs. Conti. I asked, but Johnny unfortunately is not related to this Conti…drat!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4BB1TZcO_o

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Not a bad location, eh?

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The new family.

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Even Liam’s dad got dressed up for the occasion.

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Heading back to the trail after a whirlwind three days in the “Northern Lands”. Saying goodbye to Aunty Bear Bears and Liam’s Dad. Liam and Jake would like to wish Rebecca and Johnny a happy marriage!

 

 

 

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…

The Next Step…

It’s time we take the next step and cross the border into the USA. We leave behind the Great Divide, and now follow the Continental Divide.

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A view looking into the USA. We are going to horizon, and beyond. Ever-so-far Beyond. If you squint, perhaps you can see Mexico twinkling in the distance…

I hope they let us into the USA. I hope the CDT is as fabulous as they say. I hope we reach Mexico. I hope…

We also hope that our feet stop hurting or we may become like Kramer…

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! 🙂

 

 

Cheers to All!

Cheers to the adventure thus far – the good, the bad, the hard, and the easy. To fire-starter tainted food, to rationing, to gluttony. To over-packing, bushwhacking, trail breaking, falling in tree wells, stinking socks, and lingering bad smells. To highway marching, river fording, rain and sunshine. To crevasses, avalanches, early mornings, and noon naps. To bickering, laughter, and frustration. And of course, to ski boot tromping and grass/mud skiing. And cheers to the adventures yet to come…

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The Wonderful Alpine Club of Canada

On the Great Divide Ski Traverse, you pass by a few Alpine Club of Canada Huts. We had the luxury of staying in each and every one. Here are some pictures and stories from our stays:

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The First Night we made it to the Wates Gibson Hut in the Tonquin Valley. It is well equipped, with a wood burning stove, propane stoves, lighting, and even ovens! We even made Creme Broule – not bad for an expedition eh? 🙂

The Wates Gibson is a fantastic destination for both summer and winter. Being a rather large hut, it sleeps 26 in the summer and 24 in the winter. It makes a perfect base for climbing, skiing, and hiking. There are many mountains of varying difficulty nearby (Ramparts, Thunderbolt Peak, Old Horn, Clithero, Mount Fraser). I look forward to returning and trying to tackle some of the peaks by Mount Fraser. The only thing is it can be rather tricky to find the location in the winter, it could be very helpful taking a GPS.

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I loved the stone fireplace. It added class.

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Sadly we only stayed at Wates Gibson for one night. Since it is rather a long approach, especially in the winter (over 20km) it is well worth staying longer.

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35 Nights Later we reached the next hut – Peyto (also known as the Peter and Catharine Whyte Hut). The view from the hut is outstanding. The hut has large windows, so even though it is not heated, the sun soon makes it cosy. This is also a fantastic hut to use as a climbing/skiing base. There are many moderate climbing summit nearby, such as Peyto Peak, Mount Baker, Habel, Thompson, Rhonda, and Trapper. I would love to come here and spend a New Years. And being only 10 km from the Icefields Parkway, it is a comfortable distance for a day ski in. It fits 18 in the summer, 16 in the winter.

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Enjoying tea and the scenery from Peyto Hut.

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Peyto Hut is perched on a small rock outcrop. You can see Peyto Peak in the background.

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Descending to Bow Hut – the most luxurious of the Wapta Huts. It has a wood burning stove and even a small oven, which we thoroughly enjoyed. It also makes a tremendous base, with nearby climbing objectives such as St. Nick, Olive, Collie, and Ayesha. Being only a few kilometers from the highway, you can usually reach it in just a few hours. It is a great and comfortable hut – perfect for family trips and big bashes.

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We cooked cinnamon buns in the oven. They. Were. Amazing!

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We also cooked pizza on top of the Wood Stove. Not bad, eh? 🙂

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The view from Balfour hut is breathtaking. It is located right below the crux of the Wapta Traverse – Balfour High Col. This was probably our favorite hut, as it was small and cosy, with an amazing view. It sleeps 18 in the summer, 16 in the winter.

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Making burritos with a million dollar view.

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The most southerly Wapta Hut – Scott Duncan. It is also the highest at –  2773 m. It was originally built so parties would not have to descend steep ski slopes late in the day. Instead they can enjoy the comfort of the hut and leave early in the morning. While Scott Duncan may have been the most basic, the view was the best, esp from the outhouse. It also catches the evening sun far later than all the others. The hut also serves as an excellent climbing base for nearby Mt. Balfour. It sleeps 12 both in the summer and winter.

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Jake looking back towards Mt Balfour (to his left). Balfour hut is just on the other side.

 

The ACC Huts added both luxury and enjoyment to our traverse. It was a fantastic way to end the Great Divide Traverse. Thank You ACC for providing such tremendous huts to such humble travelers. We would highly recommend them and if anyone reading this is interested you can get more information from their website: http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/

Our Finest Hour

The day we left the Blaeberry River and headed up to Mistaya Lodge we had no idea it would be so wet. Before the bridge over the Blaeberry we fell into Cairns Creek. Our ski boots were soaked. After the bridge it started to rain. And it didn’t stop. When we reached snow again, Liam’s skins just had had enough – they fell off. So he tumbled, slid, and back rolled all the way down the steep slope into a tree well. With nothing else to do, Liam packed them into his backpack. When putting on his skis again, he fell through the snow, was thrown off balance, and tumbled, slid, and back rolled all the way down the steep slope into a tree well. He stayed there for a few moments. Upside down. Watching Jake plod up the slope…he hadn’t even noticed.

The trail to Mistaya got wetter and wetter. We passed through BC forest – long trees, with few branches. They would be terrible to make a fire from…

On the final head wall the snow got sticky and the mist rolled in. It continued to rain. We almost didn’t go to the lodge. What would have been the point? No-one would be there and it would be all locked up. Nevertheless we wondered what it looked like, so we went. And Thank Goodness we did.

This is what awaited us:

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We were cold and extremely wet. A sauna was beyond what we imagined. At best, we imagined we would have gotten an unlocked outhouse. We thought maybe it was a joke…but we looked for the building anyways…

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And we found it and fired that puppy up. It. Was. Amazing. Thank You Mistaya! You restored our Souls.