The Final Mile
SEPTEMBER 6, 2006
After an incredible final week of hiking on the Great Divide Trail, we are finally finished our two-month adventure in the Rockies...
After just one more ice cream, we set out from Jasper one week ago for our last section of hiking on the GDT. We had six beautiful, sunny days to contrast the relatively difficult hiking on poor (and sometimes non-existent) trails up the Miette and Moose Rivers and finally down the excellent Berg Lake trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park.
DAY 54 - Ice cream in Jasper
DAY 55 - An elk watching Christy leaving Jasper
Even with the sunny and warm weather, the Miette River trail turned out to be quite boggy... I even completely lost my shoe in the mud on one careless step and had to dig around to retrieve it! Needless to say, our socks and shoes were never really clean on this section of the GDT.
Near Miette Pass we lost the trail completely and did several kilometres of cross-country route-finding before stumbling upon the trail again on its way up and over Grant Pass. The area between Miette, Grant and Colonel Pass had us criss-crossing the Continental Divide between Alberta and BC three times within 14 kilometres through some amazing alpine meadows and high ridges.
THANKS to John from Canmore who shared the Colonel Pass campground with us on DAY 57. I hope the rest of your trek was successful!
DAY 57 - Miette Pass
The route up the Moose River had been badly damaged by a forest fire a few years ago so the route-finding was particularly challenging as we navigated up, over and around deadfall (fallen, burnt trees) as well as having to ford the almost waist-deep Moose River no fewer than 8 times... no dry feet on this day either! But the vast meadows of Moose Pass rewarded our strenuous hike with incredible views of the surrounding glacier-capped peaks of the Divide.
DAY 59 - near Moose Pass
DAY 59 - The vast meadows of Moose Pass on the Divide
On DAY 59, as we crossed the Divide for the final time at Robson Pass, Christy and I were surprised to see a sign taped to the Alberta-BC border marker with our names on it. An inspirational note from Rich, Tim and Larry (who we had met on the Skyline trail a week earlier) had us smiling as we hiked into camp that night while the sun set on the snow-capped peak of Mount Robson... our last night on the trail. We shared the Robson Pass campsite, a roaring campfire and many hiking stories with several other hikers up enjoying the beautiful late summer days on Mount Robson.
Our final hiking day on the GDT was one of powerful emotions: excited to finally reach our goal of finishing the long journey; nostalgic for the many times we had hiked the Berg Lake trail in previous years; and actually a little sad to be leaving the trail after spending the past 60 days trekking a thousand kilometres through the Rocky Mountains. We spoke of what we would miss as well as what we were looking forward to with life after the trail... we would miss the vividness and simplicity of life on the trail... but looked forward to seeing friends and family and regular showers!
And with about four kilometres to go, who should come strolling down the trail towards us? My mom and dad! After an emotional greeting we set out down the trail, sharing many stories while we hiked the last hour together.
Then we crossed the Robson River bridge into the trailhead parking lot and we were done. No more miles. No more aches and pains. No more heavy pack. No more trail.
No more ridge-top views of mountains that go on as far as the eye can see. No more alpine meadows full of wildflowers of every colour. No more sparkling glacial lakes reflecting surrounding snow-capped peaks. No more trail.
It was time to go home.
DAY 60 - Christy and Berg Glacier
DAY 60 - Mount Robson and Berg Lake
DAY 60 - Happy hikers on the final day
THE FINAL STATS:
60 days (including 9 rest days)
8 days of rain, 1 day of snow
1056 kilometres hiked
Most consecutive days without a shower: 6
Most consecutive days without seeing another person: 4
30,000 metres of combined elevation gain (equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest more than 3 times!)
Consumed: 15 pounds of oatmeal, 10 pounds of chocolate, 100 litres of gatorade.
Animal sightings/encounters: 3 Grizzly bear (and many more footprints!); 6 black bear; dozens of sheep, deer and elk.
Weight lost: Brad - 15 pounds; Christy - 10 pounds.
Trail Magic, Adventures on Canada's Great Divide - the film... coming soon!