GDT kms: 35.9
Last night it rained a bit, but mostly it brought down bits of ash and partially burnt tree bits down on our tent; our poor little tent was quite dirty as a result when we packed it up. We briefly stopped by the washroom and garbage cans in the parking lot and then we set off on the Skyline Trail.
It was wonderfully graded and maintained and quickly got above treeline – unfortunately we weren’t able to enjoy it much as the poor air quality was getting to both Kyle and I and the smoke was blocking all of the beautiful views. As we climbed, we made our way past several campgrounds with campers still enjoying their mornings and eating breakfast surprisingly late. Despite how popular the trail is supposed to be, we didn’t see any overnight hikers actually on the trail, just a few dayhikers and a handful of trail runners.
We reached the junction just before “The Notch”, the steepest part of the trail that would bring us up to a ridge, right at lunchtime. The sun was even trying to come out as we enjoyed a quick lunch before pushing upwards.
Just as we got to the top, the forecasted rain started to come down. We pulled on our jackets, but stupidly didn’t also put on our pants as we didn’t really consider how heavy the rain was and how windy it was going to be on the ridge. As we were walking along in the cold rain and hail, I was thinking to myself how screwed we would be if one of us got hurt up here – there was nowhere to set up shelter or find natural shelter and we would quickly get hypothermic if we stopped moving. In search and rescue scenarios or examples of things going south outdoors, it’s often cited that it takes 2-3 mistakes to get in that situation and we had made our 1 mistake already.
Despite all the fearmongering in my head, it was actually a very pleasant ridgewalk – definitely the best one to do in the rain out of what we’ve done so far. The lack of views was kind of lame, but we were both pretty happy the rain was improving the air quality. Soon enough we made it off the ridge and soon after the rain stopped and the sun came out briefly to dry us off.
The rest of the walk to our camp was quite nice and mostly downhill – when we finally got there, we discovered we’d finally caught up to Arisa again! We ate dinner together and chatted about how we’d found this section before tucking into bed.
Tomorrow we get to Jasper and we’re taking a zero as well to rest before we push on to Kakwa. It’s kind of insane to think that we’ve already made it this far.
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GDT Day 37 I've heard there are supposed to be great views along the Skyline Trail, but I'm a bit skeptical. All we saw was smoke, clouds, and rain 🤨 The smoke in the air made the morning climb challenging for both of us even though it was on a very gently graded trail. We were thankful when the rain came because it meant the air quality would improve, but I can't say that walking on a windy ridge in rain and hail (no sign of lightning thank goodness) is the most fun I've ever had. Tomorrow we are off to the town of Jasper and then we're taking a zero before tackling the final 280 or so km of the trail.