I would like to acknowledge that this hike past through the ancestral and traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples. The Blackfoot Confederacy, Tsuut’ina, Stoney (Ĩyãħé) Nakoda, Cree, Lheidli T’enneh, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Métis who have called the Rocky Mountains home since time immemorial. I acknowledge the many Indigenous Peoples in Canada whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations and I am grateful to be a visitor in these lands.
This year, 2022, would be my third attempt at hiking Section D. My first attempt in 2020 ended when blisters drove me from the trail and intense smoke had me abandon my attempt in 2021 on just the second day. In my first two attempts Section D was part of a longer planned hike, combined with either Section C or E. This time my major hike for the summer would have Section D as the sole focus. With no smoke in the forecast and nicely pre-worn hiking boots I was not faced by the challenges that ended my previous two attempts.
What I did have to battle was a lack of physical preparation. This issue was quite ironic as I had spent the previous 6 months preparing for a Olympic distance triathlon. One would expect someone preparing for a triathlon would be in good physical shape but my training was somewhat skewed by the fact that I am a non swimmer. My children would be more blunt and say that dad can’t swim. I started in February of 2022 swimming just 12.5 m in the pool before having to stop, turn around and attempt to swim back to the wall. Thus my focus for the 6 months leading up to the triathlon was on learning how to swim not so much on the running and cycling. I was able to swim 1600 m in the pool in about 45 minutes but I was unsuccessful in my attempt to do transfer my new found skills to the open water. Luckily for me the organizers let me skip the swim and I joined Micah for the bike and run as they competed their first triathlon. As a side note I am considering getting back into the pool to attempt to complete the triathlon in the summer of 2023. With all the focus on swimming I lost a lot of my cardio and leg strength. In my pre-hike training I could tell that I was not anywhere near the physical condition I had been the previous two summers. This lead to a lot of internal questioning and self doubt leading up to the hike.
What really saved my entire trip was receiving the following message over Facebook
“Hi Ian, I noticed on the GDT Hikers doc that you’ll be starting GDT Section D on the same day as me and my friend. Wondering if you want to share transportation logistics – I found someone on the GDT Trail Angel FB group who can shuttle us back to Field after we leave our car at the north end (we’re thinking Mistaya Canyon rather than the Crossing). Also, curious how many days are you planning for Section D? We’re doing a leisurely 7 days. Cheers, Lillian”
After a bit of back and forth we decided not to share transportation but meet up at Yoho Lake CG at the end of Day 1 and hike for the next few days together. Needless to say we ended up hiking days 2 to 6 together finishing up at Mistaya Canyon. I have been quite honest about the fact that without Lillian and her friend Sara I never would have finished the hike.
As usual I did prepare some of my food before hand. For fruit I dried six bananas for six days of hiking which corresponds to about 20 slices of bananas. I also dried some strawberries and blueberries. The blueberries found their way ultimately into my Logan Bread which I ate for breakfast and snack.
I also prepared some of my own meals. Somehow along the way I miscalculated how many meals I had. Quickly running out of time to make more meals and dry them I contacted a local company I have used before that makes dried backpacking meals, Peak Eats and they prepared three meals and delivered them on a rush order. I love supporting local businesses but Peak Eats makes it easy with both great food and great service.
Since we would only have one night in a maintained campground I needed a trowel for my toilet kit. There are two hiking stores in town but no one had a trowel. I improvised at Canadian Tire with a kids Hot Wheels garden shovel. It was kinda cute and did the job.
Trying to remember some of the details that happened months after the hike when I typically go to write can be challenging. Small details that can really set a particular moment apart from others can be forgotten over time. For this hike I decided to bring a journal so that I could record the events of the day and my thoughts and feelings in the moment. I plan to make this a part of all my future backpacking adventures.
Would not be a hiking trip if I was not dealing with some sort of foot issue. I have developed arthritis in the knuckles of the big toes in both feet. After a couple of cortisone injections the right foot seems to have sorted itself out but the cortisone has had little effect on the left foot. To keep the pressure off the left knuckle I padded the area around it to keep the boot from adding too much pressure. Seemed to work as I had no foot issues at all on the hike.
Weight of the food that I carried. The strike throughs are items I was going to bring that I decided against.
I took my poncho in place of my rain jacket, the jury is still out on that one. Since I was using two hiking poles I ditched the Duplex self standing poles and also left my umbrella at home. Total weight including camera gear was 43 lbs for a 6 day trip. I did pack one beer that I would drink after day 4 and it went down very well.
What I learned:
- was able to complete a hike on little preparation, not recommended, but can be done
- the support of others can help you when things get challenging
- if you lose the trail, back up to where you last were sure you had it and look around, do not just charge ahead