We have finished the trail so be it’s probably a good time to write down some of my thoughts before they change!
I’ll probably put another summary together when I have more time to reflect.
We started deviating more from our itinerary and permits in Section E. Up until this point we were doing a good job of meeting our itinerary, although finishing early a few times.
The first two days of Section E were slower than expected, and this caused us to get behind. I’m still not fully sure why we got behind but I do know that:
- The first day of this section is a bit strenuous
- We started late coming from the Crossing. More on the reason below.
- Wildfire smoke really knocked us down a notch
- Immediately after breakfast at the Crossing Resort I became ill, and I continued to have stomach issues for the first two days. I lost weight over these two days – first time on the hike that I lost noticeable weight.
We also struggled a couple days in Section F/G to meet our plans. We planned shorter days and did not deviate too much but it was still tough to fit planned distance in per day. In particular when crossing Moose River, despite the good trail, we were crossing water so often that it just slowed us down a bit.
The food plan was overall quite good. The number of calories was right and I did not lose weight until the first two days of Section E as commented above. Also, we went into Section F/G a little lean on food due to the weight and knew that we may need to walk out for 12 days (9 days GDT trail, three days out and hopefully hitch a ride for the highway) instead of the planned 10 (9 days GDT trail, one day out and hopefully hitch a ride for the rest). We ended up walking 11 days before getting a ride so I did end up losing more weight in the last section.
We also got tired of some food during the hike. Surprisingly Natasha (who usually never gets sick of eating something) was the one who became the most picky.
I also think I have developed an allergy to walnuts – they make my mouth tingle. Unfortunately I brought some bars with walnuts so I stopped eating those just to be safe.
In Coleman we started putting our Gatorade powder in empty pop bottles instead of Ziploc bags. This made it much less messy to make Gatorade and was a very light, spill and tear resistant container for powder.
During the hike we carried olive oil in a 500mL soft platapus bottle. This worked great.
In future hikes we will probably:
- Ship 10% less food, and get the balance in town to account for sections we finish with excess food (finish early, don’t eat bars as we hike into town because we are eating lunch in town, etc) as well as to allow us to change things up a bit
- I won’t bring bars with walnuts. Unfortunately this means I won’t eat the apple Larabar 😦
- Continue to carry Gatorade powder in plastic bottles. We may do the same with milk powder. I may look into whether it’s light enough to use a soft platapus bottle instead since the rigid pop bottles don’t get smaller as you use up the contents. Rigid bottles are also tougher to fit in the bear bag.
- Continue to carry olive oil in a platapus bottle
No change on packs, tent or sleep system since my midpoint reflection.
My shoes (Asics My Fuji Attack 4) are now almost destroyed. They have more repair than original material!
Natasha’s shoes are almost two pieces…
I finished the hike with one of my original pairs of toe socks (with many repairs) and one replacement pair that did not last nearly as long. I am impressed with my original socks but far less impressed with the pair I bought to replace them.
I got more holes on my gaiters from bushwacking and sharp rocks snagging them. My repairs still have held up but the gaiters will need replacement or some love.
Still had only one tent peg break in the entire hike.
I have unfortunately gotten more holes and snags in my pants – mostly from downed trees. I think I can repair them at home. I did temporary repairs on trail and they held up until the last few days.
I wore a hole in my sun gloves. Just wore right through them.
My running gloves split at the seams.
I wore through the cable holding my trekking pole strap to my pole. Repaired it with rope from my rope kit.
In addition to the days I reflected on already, I really liked Jackpine High Route. I also think the Jackpine River was pretty but the walking along the river got old fast!
Most days in Section G were very pretty but obscured by the smoke.
It was nice going up Big Shale – we had not gotten that kind of exposure and climb in a while.
I really have to think about this more!
Comments on Resupply Locations
Peter Lougheed: meh. Tough to walk, food is scarce but the visitor center is pretty nice. The visitor center has a kitchen area which is really convenient for food resupply.
Banff: good for equipment but expensive and overwhelming
Field: great, but hard to find a place to stay. Not much for Resupply food in town but the gas station apparently has some items.
Saskatchewan Crossing: good motel, good selection at the store but I did not have a good experience with their food and it is quite expensive.
Jasper: great! Good for equipment, good accommodations, good food.