The Canadian Great Divide Trail runs from Waterton Lakes to Jasper National Park. It is a rugged and amazing beast. I had the absolute pleasure of tackling a 140 mile section of this trail from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta to Field, British Colombia.
There isn’t a day that passes when I don’t think about the incredible adventures had on that amazing trail. In light of it being one year (ONE YEAR !!! WHATTTT???) since I set out on this amazing adventure with two great friends, I thought it fitting to bring back the memories and re-live some of the highlights. I cannot say enough great things about the Canadian Rockies and I try to convince as many fellow hikers as possible to explore these parks. I have hiked in many countries, but nothing has trumped the beauty of my home, Canada and the Great Divide Trail. I fully plan to get back and complete another section of the GDT as soon as possible. Until then, I will keep daydreaming and re-living the memories !
1. Favorite park along the hike?
Height of the Rockies Provincial Park
- The rugged, unspoiled landscape of the park was undeniably the most remote and amazing place I’ve hiked to date. From making your own trail to bushwhacking through the overgrown forest, to keeping an eye out for the grizzly that left its mark throughout the park; it felt like a true, Canadian wilderness experience.
2. What Park didn’t I get to see enough of?
Assiniboine Provincial Park
I skirted along the edge of Assinboine on the Great Divide Trail but didn’t leave a day to go and explore Lake Magog or the other trails in the area. I will most definitely be back to take on another adventure here.
3. Most beautiful park/area?
Egypt Lake and surrounding area, Banff National Park
Egypt Lake was a popular spot, but for good reason. Several amazing trails to peaks, passes, lakes and jaw dropping vistas are spokes from a central campground and cabin hub that hikers typically use as a home base. The turquoise lakes around Egypt lake make a fine backdrop for the jagged peaks that surround the area. I would LOVE to get back here to explore some more when it’s not snow-covered like the August day I visited.
4. Best View?
A solid tie between Whistling Pass and Ball Pass, both Banff National Park.
Snow-capped peaks will continue to surround you as you take in the views you are rewarded with after some tough climbs to these mountain passes. The payoff for your hard work is returned 10 fold with these jaw dropping vistas; my favorites of the trip.
5. Most brutal uphill climb?
Hwy 93 to Floe Lake Campground, Kootenay National Park
Switchbacks and a long, never-ending steep climb for 6 miles with 2300 feet elevation gain bring you to this mountain lake oasis. I was hoping the climb would deter the crowds but this is one of the most popular backcountry campsites for obvious reasons.
6. Biggest Disappointment?
The Rockwall Trail- Kootenay National Park *though it wasn’t its fault.
- The rock wall should have been the most scenic section of the hike, however nearby forest fires hid the views in a thick layer of smoke. Despite the poor conditions, the popularity of the trail caused the campgrounds and trails to be very crowded. After days of having campsites to ourselves, it took away some of the magic to share this spot with so many other people. Sometimes the most amazing places are those you share with the fewest people. Peaceful and quiet, like Mother Nature intended.
7. Best Campsite?
Floe Lake for views, Ball Pass atmosphere.
The Floe lake campground is postcard picture perfect. If you get there early enough, you may be able to snag a site with lake and mountain views that will blow your mind. Ball Pass Campground in Banff was one of my favorites because it was a peaceful spot with a babbling brooke to serenade me to sleep as the sun cast it’s shadows on the mountains overhead…. oh with no crowds.
8. Biggest weather snafu?
Hiking in a raging snow storm in August.
This isn’t a different season….this is August and this day was sandwiched between two beautiful sunny days. The weather in the Rockies is unpredicable. I like to think of it as part of the experience.. and was thankful that this was the one night on the hike that I spent in a shelter with a wood stove and not a campsite!
9. Best Backcountry Lake
Haiduk Lake, Banff National Park
This lake comes into sight as you reach the top Whistling pass. After a rugged decent from the pass through the field of boulders you reach Haiduk lake. The trail skirts along the edge of this turquoise lake with lots of spots to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch with great views, complete with a waterfall (not pictured here).
10. Favorite landscape (and photo)
Unnamed Alpine Meadow in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
- Sometimes Mother Nature grants you with the perfect conditions on the perfect day in the MOST perfect of places to take a photo that will later transport you back to this incredible spot and make you long to return. This is that place and photo for me <3. Until next time GDT.