Thursday, September 11, 2008

The adventures continue...

For photos and trip reports from my latest travels and wilderness wanderings, check out

happy trails,

Saturday, September 23, 2006


SEPTEMBER 22, 2006 - Vancouver

The sun has set on the last day of summer and oh, what an incredible summer it was! But I can feel the changing of the seasons... the trees are red and gold and autumn is in the air. Christy has been back at work for two weeks already while I have another week before I return to my "day job". I've been keeping busy, working on our GDT film - Trail Magic. I have 42 amazing hours of video footage to view and edit on my way to creating an hour-long film, recapping our epic adventure.

But as I sit here and type this on the computer, my heart aches to be back in the mountains... So with sunny skies forecast this weekend, that's where I'm going! Just an overnighter in Garibaldi but the call to head back into the mountains is strong and I know it will lift my spirits and allow me to reflect on our amazing summer on the Great Divide...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Final Mile

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

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!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mount Robson, here we come

AUGUST 31, 2006 - Jasper

Today we resupplied our packs with food for one last time before we head out on our last week of hiking to the end of the Great Divide Trail at Mount Robson.

The past week of hiking towards Jasper had me feeling many mixed emotions... the below-treeline, valley walking south of Maligne Lake gave me the trail blues and I felt uninspired and listless as we walked for three days under beautiful blue-sky. While the ever-approaching end of our trip had me feeling excited to finally accomplish our goal, I was also saddened that I would be leaving the mountains soon and no longer be hiking in the Rocky Mountain wilderness everyday...

But my spirits were lifted by our last two days of hiking on the Skyline Trail, one of Jasper National Park's most spectacular and popular backcountry routes.

HELLO to our fellow campers at Tekarra campground on the Skyline: David & Laura from North Carolina; Tim & Larry from Alaska; and thanks to Rich from Seattle for a delicious lunch in Jasper! We wish you all many more blue-sky hiking adventures...

DAY 50: near Maligne Pass

DAY 52: Trekking the Skyline

DAY 52: Mount Tekarra on the Skyline

DAY 52: The Notch (2480m, highest point on the Skyline)

Back on the trail tomorrow... off to Mount Robson and the end of our adventure!

Thank you!

I just wanted to send out a BIG THANKS to everyone who has followed along and taken the time to send messages to us on our blog... your words of support have been much appreciated over the past two months during our adventure in the mountains!

I don't have personal email addresses for many people who I have met during our trek so send me an email if you'd like to keep in touch.

Harry... I did mention Bargen's Pass, but sadly your sign marking the highest point on the GDT was nowhere to be found... I guess you'll just have to climb up there again! ;)

THANKS to Amy and her cyclist friends from Idaho for the ride into Jasper from the Poboktan trailhead and Steve and Cheryl from Winnipeg for the ride back to the trailhead... you guys made a difficult resupply easy and fun!


NOTE: This sign is posted on the GDT just outside of Jasper but we actually have 6 more days of hiking to go!

Christy's Close-Ups Part 2

Christy keeps looking a little closer at the world around us as we hike...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Top of the Great Divide

AUGUST 25, 2006 - Jasper National Park

We just finished a long and amazing section of trail that had us climbing up narrow canyons, up glacial-swollen creeks and over high mountain passes and all with beautiful sunny weather... mostly.

We started the section from the Saskatchewan River Crossing by climbing up the incredible Owen Creek canyon; so deep and narrow at some points that you can straddle the canyon with one foot on either side as the water crashes many metres below in the darkness! The second day (DAY 43) we headed cross-country, up and over three high mountain passes including the highest point on the GDT at 2590 metres.. stunning views! We did some tricky route-finding as we realized (a little too late) that Paolo and Bev had the topographic map for the area so we relied heavily on Dustin's trail description from his guidebook which proved rock-solid (since we never really got lost)! ;)

DAY 32: Brad on Ball Pass

DAY 43: On the highest point of the GDT (aka Bargen's Pass)

DAY 43: Christy climbing high

DAY 43: Mountain reflections

On our way up the Cataract Creek valley towards Cataract Pass we came upon some old ochre pictographs that may be hundreds of years old.

DAY 44: Cataract Creek ochre pictographs

DAY 45: Making lunch below Cataract Pass

We crossed over into Jasper National Park at Cataract Pass and once again we were on good, established trail... no more bush-wacking! After 3 days of hiking without seeing anyone else, we gladly shared the campground and campfire that night at Four Points Creek with Paul & Laurie from Sault Ste. Marie, Paul (who made smores!) & Krista from Philadelphia, and Jun from Michigan. HI to all!

The next day the rain started early... and never stopped. We hiked 22 kilometres in only 5 hours, moving fast to stay warm in the cold, wet weather. On Jonas Pass we discovered that Christy's rainjacket was not waterproof, acting more like a sponge as it got wet and sucked her body heat away. She got so cold that she couldn't use her fingers to clip her pack! But thanks to the shelter of our tent, her warm sleeping bag, a dry change of clothes and some hot chocolate, she was feeling warm and cozy again... but a new jacket is in order soon!

DAY 46: Soggy Jonas Pass

Up next is the famous Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park. Only 2 weeks and 250 kilometres left to the end of the trail at Mount Robson...

Friday, August 18, 2006

And then there were two...

AUGUST 18 - The Crossing

Sadly, five days ago in Lake Louise we said goodbye to Paolo and Bev as they decided to stop hiking the Great Divide Trail and bussed back to Vancouver. Bev's nagging hip injury had gotten worse and she had stopped enjoying the hike so after much soul-searching and discussion with Paolo, they decided to call it quits. So now it's just Christy and me trekking through the mountains on our way to Mount Robson. We miss both of them and really noticed it on the last section of trail which had us hiking through some very remote areas.

We left Field last week and hiked through the western area of Yoho National Park, up and over Amiskwi Pass and did not see anyone else on the trail for several days. Just before the pass, Christy said to me, "Brad keep your eye out for wildlife because I smell something funny."
I looked at her strange and mere seconds later, charging down the trail towards me, were two young grizzly bears. They hadn't seen me and appeared to be playing or racing or something so I shouted out and immediately they skidded to a stop about 30 feet away. Christy and I both pulled out our bear-mace, but after a quick sniff and look at us the bears ran off into the forest. We continued on, loudly and cautiously but never saw them again. But the area is ripe with berries and we saw bear scat often.

After that scare, we hiked further that day than expected but the beautiful blue-sky sunshine kept our spirits high. The next day we took on the role of explorers as we headed up on the David Thompson Heritage Trail, an original fur-trading route into BC 200 years ago! We enjoyed the first bit of the hike but as we climbed towards Howse Pass, where we would cross the continental divide again and re-enter Alberta, the trail became very overgrown and difficult to walk on. In fact, the next day of hiking as we descended from Howse Pass we walked for more than 6 hours, covering a mere 10 kilometres, struggling up and over hundreds of fallen trees while wading through the flooded glacial water of the Howse River. Quite the adventure!

Tomorrow we head off towards Jasper and only 3 weeks left on the Great Divide Trail. The weather forecast looks good and our legs and feet are feeling pretty good... just time for one more steak dinner tonight!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Rainy Rockwall

AUGUST 12, 2006

After our relaxing and restful days in Banff we headed back up into the mountains. The Egypt Lake area north of Sunshine Meadows was spectacular hiking as the Great Divide Trail stayed very close to the actual continental divide for many miles, climbing up and over several passes each with impressive views of the area. The smoke from a large forest fire in Washington state had been blowing north and the sky was filled with an eerie orange haze and the distinct smell of smoke for several days. After spending two beautiful days hiking north from Sunshine Meadows, we climbed steeply up to Floe Lake and the start of the famous Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park. This is when the rain started... and didn't stop for the next two days.

As we finished dinner at Floe Lake the rain began to fall so we hurried to the shelter of our tent. The rain continued most of the night and for the first time on our hike we had to pack up in the rain in the morning resulting in most of our gear being damp (and heavy) as we set off for Numa Pass, the highest point on the Rockwall. The clouds fell low and heavy, obscuring any views and as we were literally blown off of the pass by the wind. The rain stopped briefly during our lunch break only to return with a fury as we crested Tumbling Pass. Large hailstones and some very close lightning strikes had us taking cover in a small grove of trees. When the hail turned to hard rain we hurried off of the pass and down to our campground for the night. Unpacking our wet gear in the rain resulted in a very wet camp. Sleeping in a slightly damp sleeping bag never makes for a very good nights sleep... ahh the joys of hiking in the rain!

Oddly enough the Rockwall Trail was very busy and we shared our wet campground with several other hikers who also braved the nasty weather to hike what I'm sure is a beautiful trail in better weather! After some debate we decided to hike out to highway 93 a day early rather than venture up and over another pass to Field. The trail to the road had a bridge out which made for a precarious creek ford with rushing flood water nearly up to our waist! But by the end of the day we were safe and dry at the Castle Mountain Chalets with our wet gear hanging everywhere, drying out and Christy baked a chocolate cake! Not the typical trail magic, but magic nonetheless!

Paul Pelegrin from Sunshine Meadows Shuttle for some special trail magic shuttling us to and from Banff!
Vladmir & Donna from Calgary for the ride out of the rain!
Bob, June & Joan from Manchester for the ride to Lake Louise!