GDT kms: 20.0
Today started with a “potentially challenging ford” of Cairnes Creek. We avoided the ford by crossing on two trees that had conveniently fallen across the creek; they were positioned in a way that required you to sort of crouch/stretch yourself across them and after we went across we decided fording would have been safer albeit more wet.
Next we popped onto the David Thompson Heritage Trail which has obviously been sorely neglected for quite a while. It was badly overgrown with some sections erased by small slides and others taken over by the nearby river. It was slow progress, but at least it was followable most of the time. After several hours on this trail, we reached Lambe Glacier Creek, another “VERY difficult and extremely dangerous crossing”. Again we disagreed with this assessment – I’m not sure if we are just getting lucky, but so far we haven’t found any of the “challenging” water crossings to live up to the hype. Also again, we didn’t actually need to ford this crossing as a small log bridge had been recently set up.
The trail conditions improved quite a bit after this point and became somewhat pleasant. At the top of Howse Pass, there is a surprisingly nice monument/sign explaining it is a National Historic Site. I found it interesting that the sign acknowledged that Aboriginal people in the area would have used the pass long before Europeans arrived, yet the pass is still named after a seemingly random Hudson’s Bay Company employee who happened to travel it.
We had another creek crossing and then our day took a turn for the worse. While the notes about river crossings seem to be overhyped so far, the note about the shitiness of this section of trail was accurate. Future hikers – listen to the note and take the Howse River alternate right from the start, cutting down from the “trail” after you’ve realized your mistake will not be easy for quite a while. The trail basically turns into a forest full of deadfall, it looks the same in every direction and you are going to lose the trail, be going impossibly slow due to navigating all the trees across the “trail” and you won’t be able to find anywhere to camp in the mess, so you just need to keep going. After hours of struggling with the trail, we finally managed to get to a spot that we thought we could cut down to the river at around 7:30pm. With it quickly getting darker, we went a little ways before finding a spot on one of the gravel bars that seemed unlikely to get wet even if the water rose overnight and setup our tent, cooked dinner and tucked ourselves in.
The frustratingly slow pace today means that we have 20 km tomorrow rather than 10 to reach the Crossing Resort – hopefully following the river is quicker or at least less frustrating than being stuck in the forest on a shitty barely existent trail.