Originally, I had planned to hike Canada's Great Divide Trail this past summer.
For various reasons (personal, possible family issues, a dear friend being in town for his daughter's medical reasons, starting a new relationship, not wanting to be gone in the summer. Not one in particular, but they all added up), I decided to go on a modified version doing a more traditional vacation.
Joining me for the trip were my good friends Mark and Dave. Mark knows Canadian Rockies quite well and is a mountaineering instructor the Colorado Mountain Club.
You've probably seen Dave on previous photos of mine.
Both needed/wanted a vacation and I was happy to share the journey with them.
Rather than give a through description of the trip, I'll just give the highlights.
First a day hike in Glacier National Park. Sorry, I don't have my map with me…I forget the trails/pass. A chunk of the day was on the CDT.
That evening, we went to St. Mary's Lodge in Glacier, grabbed a beer and watched the sunset before going to our campsite.
We then made it to Canada!
First, we played touron by going to the admittedly beautiful Lake Louise area.
Not pictured? The hordes of people! I was happy to make this a quick trip.
We made it to the trailhead that afternoon and proceeded to do a 3 day/2 night backpack. The original route had a good start, a fantastic end and a "meh" middle.
The "meh" middle consisted of being in a swampy, wooded valley with many stream crossings.
While waiting for Dave at one crossing, Mark and I looked at the map. Though a steep approach, the off trail hike on a plateau (and over two passes and down into a valley) looked awesome. So out of the valley we went and up to the promised mountain lands!
That photo pretty much shows the whole day in one shot!
After this wonderful (but hard) off-trail hike, we hooked on the trail again and saw our destination for the evening: Fish Lake.
Not too shabby..'eh?
After hiking out the following morning, we did an early evening jaunt on the Athabasca Glacier. It did not get dark up there until 10pm! Up to the glacier, there were signs that showed the (increasingly rapid) retreat.
As mentioned, Mark is a mountaineering instructor for the CMC. Needless to say, we would not have had a better guide as Dave and I pulled out the ice axe and put on the crampons.
The following day, we drive up the Icefields Pkwy to go to Yoho National Park and hike the famous Iceline Trail.
But, first we made some stops along the way to places where I was going to originally be. "The Crossings"..uber expensive resupply area ($6 CDN for an ice cream sandwhich ?!?!???! ) Seems to be carrying on the Hudson Bay Trading Company of gouging travelers in the middle of nowhere.
We also popped into Field for some delcious coffee, a yummy sandwhich and awesome (baked that morning) pastry. What an unexpected gem!
Anyway, we made it to the trailhead to do this "streneuous" ~13 mile dayhike that (true to its name) goes along a glacier.
Later that evening (our last night in Canada) we stopped at the Lake Louise Hostel restaurant for dinner. Fish and chips (awesome!). Honey Lager Beer (delicious!) and some POUTINE!!!
So bad…yet so good. I have some Quebecois roots on Mom's side of the family I know little about (part of the reason why I identify more with the Italian roots. Plus the food was better on Dad's all Italian side. ). But perhaps there is a gene for enjoying this fat laden, fried and starch filled goodness? Mark and I split the order. We agreed this will have to be a future hut trip dish!
The following morning, we left Canada (with a much needed cleaning in Radium Hot Springs before we entered the US and a quick side trip to the historic Ft. Steele. In Canada, the law generally went first and THEN the people. A bit less of a wild west! ) and took the western side of Glacier National Park. A little bit longer but more scenic.
One last camping site, another quick trip to the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn (not too developed…you can really get a feel for the battle area esp. if you can read a map) and we were home.
A bit different than what I planned..but still very good.
Someday (soon) I'll have to hike the Great Divide in the Canadian Rockies. Until then? Off to hike the San Juan high route from Silverton to Cumbres this Monday!!!!
All the photos