Great Divide Trail Pt 2: Alpine passes galore

I found The trail from Jasper to The Crossing to be everything I expected from the GDT: High alpine passes, glacier-fed lakes, above treeline walking for many kilometers, and the feeling of the remote and wild.

One stretch, in particular, saw me going over three passes in one day followed by a knee-jarring descent down the steep Owen Canyon. A stiff 30 km that took all day!

But what a glorious day. Easily one of my most memorable days of backing. Up there with days in The Winds, the High Sierra, or anywhere on the Colorado Plateau.

An unnamed pass on this stretch is the literal high point of the GDT and a figurative highpoint from a day of hiking.

My quads were tired and I had to pause more than once while hiking, but the feeling of exultation upon reaching the top of each pass made me want to give a “barbaric yawp” over the Canadian Rockies!

Earlier in the week, I hiked the famous Skyline Trail out of Jasper. Often considered one of the best “bucket list” backpacking trips by many magazines. This 40km+ stretch of trail is a classic for a reason. Excellent tread, good grade, and well, the photos speak for the experience…

I lucked out and procured a site on this popular trail. A short first day, but no complaints.

Canadian National Parks have communal camping areas with shared bear lockers and eating areas. I enjoyed a delightful evening with a fun group of fellow backpackers on their own jaunt. We talked well into the long, well-lit by the sun, Canadian Summer evening. I enjoy my solo hiking, but the communal nature of these shared campsites reminded me a bit of more positive times spent on the Appalachian Trail during my formative backpacking years.

My second to last evening on this stretch had a “postcard” quality moment setting up camp in the twilight. A quiet place and a place that seems best enjoyed by hiking in a short way, making camp, brewing up a hot drink, and, as that sage and philosopher Yogi Berra says, “observe a lot by watching.”

A future type of trip to experience.

For now, the GDT calls.

These past few days have been stunning.

I am excited for more mountains to see, passes to crest, and observe a lot by walking!

Note: The wifi is spotty here, so the photos are having trouble uploading. I did not beat the morning wifi rush! 😉 Here are the photos via Instagram, though.

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