I am now in Banff. A little more than halfway through my journey.
I am seeing members of the hiking tribe. People making their way north on the GDT. We exchange information and wish each other well on our path of a wilderness pilgrimage.
With the exception of one morning at Field with a fellow southbounder, the meetings are brief.
Otherwise, I am solo.
Due to a fire closure, I had to a detour via a quick hitch to Lake Louise from Field and then about 60 km through Banff NP.
Not a bad detour, though.
And somewhere on this detour I crossed the halfway threshold.
I now have fewer than 500km to go at this point.
Now, the stretch between The Crossing and Field ended up being some ‘shwackalicious fun.
I encountered blowdowns galore. Lost my way through tall willows covered in fresh rain water. And angled along rivers to avoid the hundreds of blowdowns (as the app text author puts it) and averaged perhaps 1.5 km per hour.
I yelled. I swore. I cajoled and pleaded with the trail gods.
But only one step at a time (or ducking, clambering over logs, taking compass bearings, etc.) would push me forward.
Even “in the weeds”, I found beauty. A setting sun on the horizon with the (smokey!) mountains providing a satisfying backdrop.
And when I ended a portion of the ‘shwacking fun?
A little stream fording fun ended up being a last obstacle to the promised land of a benign road walk…
The GDT can be physically tough. And sometimes mentally challenging.
But, as an explorer further south on the divide stated
I now laid myself down on some will boughs to a comfortable nights rest, and felt indeed as if I was fully repaid
for the toil and pain of the day. So much will a good shelter, a dry bed and a comfortable supper revive the spirits of the weary, wet and hungry traveler.
Unlike Meriwether Lewis, a foam pad is my bed of choice.
But otherwise I am in Banff. And the sentiment is the same.
Showered, laundry done, gear dried, stomach full. I head out again in a couple of hours.
I am not thinking of the difficulty of the passage just hiked.
I am thinking of crossing the mountain passes somewhere in the Rockies. Or enjoying a small snack of ripened thimble berries found along the trail. And how blessed I am to see and experience the splendor along the Canadian Divide.
What lies ahead? No doubt more challenging terrain.
And I will probably again cajole, curse, and yell.
But no doubt I will see sights that will long live in my memory.
Oh. And my impressions of Banff? Imagine if Aspen and Estes Park had a Canadian love child! 🙂