After spending two weeks on trail, I have some observations about camp sites.
A number of marked sites are for use with horses. I’m all for mixed use, but these sites do carry some baggage. It may be in your best interest to move on past them!
In many cases these are best described as “well used”.
In Section A we came across two sites that are used for horses. The first one, the outfittey camp on Font Creek was clean enough but didn’t have any good place to camp as it was pretty swampy. We stopped for a break but then continued on to the next one (Jutland Brook) which was also quite swampy but we had to make camp for the day.
We noticed at that site the distinct lack of cleanliness and overall unpleasant nature of the area. It was well used. Had trash. Fire pit with seats made from logs and wood planks. Camp sites trampled. In the woods there was a hole dug in the ground with a toilet seat over it… I mean, people literally were pooping in an open hole in the ground maybe 50 feet way from the creek. The area smelled. Lots of bugs. It was not a great site. Also the trail out was completely trampled and eroded away so it was just a number of vague, deep mud grooves in the ground. Some sections were large washed out areas. This was not pleasant to hike or camp in.
Later in Section B we encountered Cache Creek. The description promised good sites. The view as we crossed the creek was nice but the most campable area was used for horses. The best area to set up a tent was used specifically for horses. It was trampled, dirty, had structures built to tie the horses on, had horse feces on the ground and had lots of flies. The fire pit was close by and we decided to eat there. Bad idea. Also dirty, smelly, trash and had lots of flies.
We set up our tent closer to the water, down the trail a bit. A nice spot with fewer flies but still a lot of horse feces. It’s also closer to the water so it will be cooler than we would like.
We later camped at High Rock. I’m not sure if this is a horse site, but it is horribly dirty, overrun and abused. It has structures built…to the point it’s overwhelming.
There is trash everywhere, including
- Plastic sheets – on the ground, or dug into the ground in at least five locations
- Sheet metal with bullet holes
- Pop cans
- Water jugs
- Broom handle
- A rain boots
- A metal grate built on to the structure
- A rusted, burned chainsaw
- Rusted metal, cans, etc
- Plastic container, like the kind whey powder or vitamins come in
- Up the hill, just several feet from the creek supplying water has jerry cans, tarps and metal trash
This site is an embarrassment. It’s unclean and the water is likely unsafe. We are hiking alongside one US citizen and one Japanese citizen. I am embarrassed for them to see these areas. Step up your game Alberta!
Overall I’d rather just find a spot to pitch our tent in the wilderness rather than most established sites so far on the GDT. I have seldom found any established sites on the trail that are clean enough or are sustainable long term. I am a little concerned about whether there are sufficient suitable sites if the number of people who hike the GDT increases at all in the future. This could get messy quickly.