Aug 26 – Sept 1 (7 days)
GDT 552km – 344km (208 km + detour)
Section C SOBO (10 of 12)
It’s been a hot, dry summer on the Rockies, which has led to the worst fire season in BC’s history and to a lot of closures on the Great Divide Trail. Thankfully for us, a big closure in Kootaney National Park along the Rockwall Trail reopened shortly before we arrived (and re-closed shortly thereafter).
It was neat to be back along the Rockwall and reminisce, as this was the last spot on our Northbound trek back in June that was seriously snowy – so the conditions are wildly different now. Unsurprisingly, we made far better time this time thru, and enjoyed discovering the actual location of the trail.
Soon after that, we arrived at Sunshine Ski Resort where a large closure was still in effect ahead. We enjoyed waffles, coffee and poutine while mulling over our options.
This closure didn’t leave us any good options to get around, but T and I are set on completing this hike on foot – no cheating. We don’t mind altering the route within reason, but we aren’t going up be hitch hiking around anything.
From a delicious cafe at Sunshine, I hastily devised a new route which I called the “rad or bad” alternate. The plan was to invent a new pass over the continental divide based on scant beta – threading the needle between the fire closure on one side and a grizzly closure on the other (the grizzly closure being a popular fall feeding area for the bears where hikers have been hurt and killed in the past). The pass would be “rad” if it worked, but “bad” if it didn’t, as we’d either have to backtrack for a loss of 75km, or head into grizzly-ville.
Long story short, the new “rad” pass didn’t work. We were foiled by a substantial cliff band that wasn’t foreseeable on the medium res topos we had. I won’t mention what “bad” option we then elected for, but we sure did see a lot of berries.
With the closure behind us, we rejoined the GDT at Assiniboine Lodge. We had met the managers of the lodge – Claude and Annick – back in June when we snowshoe’d past in the early days of our trek and they kindly gave us cookies and scones, while probably being skeptical of our chances. This time around we stopped in to buy afternoon tea and cake. They seemed surprised and impressed that we had made it back, and lavished cake, tea, beer and more upon us. Their friendliness and generosity was the nicest treatment we’ve received on the entire trail, and especially generous considering the lodge had been forced to close for a large part of their summer season due to nearby fires. Sadly, just a few hours after we left the fires flared up, and again the lodge had to close.
We started the final 75 km of the leg, by hiking over Wonder Pass with Noel – local photographer and all around passionate guy. It was great to share 20kms of walking with him, learn about the local history and take some photos.
We’re resting in Peter Lougheed Park now, with over 1900km behind us and only 344 to go. The end is close, which feels right.
Twisted Stalk with fruit
Bunchberry in fall colours
Seed head of a glacier lily (I think)