Day 9, August 19th, Bald Hills Random Camp to Evelyn Creek CG. 9.5 km, 275 m elevation gain, 650 m elevation loss, 2 hrs 47 min (Segment 27, 28).
With a very short day ahead of us and such a tough previous day we had decided to not set an alarm and enjoyed a well deserved lie in. It had rained overnight but not very much. The ground was fairly dry when I did finally emerge from the tent just after 8 am. The sky was a real mixed bag depending on where you looked. Maligne Lake was socked in with cloud but looking west to the ridge there was some blue sky.
We enjoyed a slow easy breakfast while packing up the tent. Emily decided to start the day with her rain pants on. It was a little chilly which was made worse by the dampness in the air. After a little bit of ground maintenance to remove evidence of our campsite we were off.
Ironically the route back to the GDT followed one of our mantras from our adventure on the Six Passes the previous day “follow the drainage”. We had camped just above an ephemeral stream. The stream bed now being dry provided a pleasant and steady route back to the GDT which followed the ridgeline bordering the Bald Hills.
It took us about 15 minutes to attain the ridge and rejoin the end of the Six Passes Route. It was easy and pleasant walking on the ridge and the little climb up from our campsite had warmed us up nicely.
We came to a small summit on the ridgeline and decided to drop our packs and make a quick dash up for a look. This was were we ended the Six Passes Route and rejoined Parks Canada trails.
We scrambled back down and grabbed our packs and headed back up a little rise. As we made our way up I could feel a light burn in my legs leftover from yesterday’s big day.
Our pace picked up and so did the level of conversation. At 10:15 am we passed our first hiker of the day. We had not seen anyone since we left Maligne Pass at 2:30 pm two days prior a span of almost 44 hours! We met more and more people as we hiked. The trail was wide, smooth and free of any obstructions which made the walking easy. After hiking on unmaintained or no trail for the past two days we appreciated the job done by Parks Canada and their trail crews.
Just before we arrived at our first major intersection we came across a pile of fairly fresh bear scat. The scat was a good reminder that despite being back on highly trafficked trails it was important to be vigilant for wildlife. At an unmarked junction we stayed to the left on what could best be described as more of a service road than a trail.
The guidebook and the apps had a short cut to Evelyn Creek Campground from the Bald Hills. Instead of following the trails back down to the Maligne Lake parking lot there was a decommissioned trail that would lead almost directly to Evelyn Creek Campground. The shortcut was approximately 2.5 km long and saved about 7.5 km. As we approached the turnoff for the shortcut I was wondering if there was a snack shack at the Maligne Lake parking lot. I was really feeling like a bottle of Coke and a chocolate bar. If I knew I could have gotten the snacks at the parking lot I think I would have walked the extra distance. As it was it was too big a risk to add the extra distance just to find out that there were no snacks available.
Initially the trail was quite good and actually flat as we spent some time contouring around the hill we had just descended from. After 1.1 km we came to a junction for Evelyn Pass. I had to look up the pass online and it was quite a way back up Evelyn Creek. There does not appear to be a trail on any map I could find but maybe there is a decommissioned trail up the creek that would take a person to the pass. We were not much for random adventures on this day so we chose to stay on the trail that would take us to the campground.
After leaving the junction for Evelyn Pass the trail deteriorated in condition and dropped steeply all the way to Evelyn Creek. We arrived at the junction with the main trail at 11:47 am taking just 32 minutes to hike the shortcut. A quick bridge crossing of Evelyn Creek and three minutes later we were dropping our packs in a vacant campsite our hiking done for the day and it was not yet noon.
The weather which had been great for hiking all day now thought it would mess with us. The sunshine that we enjoyed as we put the tent turned to a light shower just 10 minutes later. This would become the pattern for the rest of the day periods of sunshine followed by showers.
The rain shower was brief so we decided to take advantage of the lull in the rain to have lunch. We used our time in camp to relax, read, do laundry and have a little wash in the creek. Evelyn Creek CG is a very pleasant little campground but was not well set up for spending time lounging in camp. The trees which protected us from the bulk of the rain also hid any views we may of had.
We got dinner going just before 6 pm. The trail splits the tent pads from the eating area and it was common for hikers coming down the trail to utilize the eating area as a short cut. While we were making dinner a family came through. We had quite a long conversation with the parents but it was quite evident that the teenage boy just wanted to get going. It came up that they were suppose to be staying at Little Shovel CG just 4 km up the trail but were heading home early to escape the rain. Emily and I debated whether we should pack up and take their campsite at Little Shovel. We had a big day coming up the next day hiking the entire length of the Skyline all the way to Signal CG. Hiking to Little Shovel CG would cut 4 km off a 32 km hike. We figured it would probably take us a couple hours to pack up, hike and set up the tent so settling in at Little Shovel CG a bit after 8 pm. We ended up choosing not to hike to Little Shovel CG and to stay at Evelyn CG for the evening. In a situation like what we were faced I do not feel that there is a right or wrong decision. We made a decision that we were both comfortable with but next time I have the choice I think I am going to vote to hike a little in the evening to shorten the following day.
We were running a little low on feul because someone only brought a half full fuel canister with them. I had water tablets as a back up so we had taken to purifying our cooking water so that we did not have to bring the water to a complete boil. It was questionable if we would be able to make the fuel last for two more dinners and our morning coffees.
We spent a good part of the evening reading. Getting very confused by the topic of quantum gravity. We learned that there are no things just long boring events and that the reason we fall down and not up is that time runs slower lower down and matter likes to be where time runs the slowest. So I guess if we want to live longer we should just go and lie down by the seashore.