how long to hike the great divide trail
- December 24, 2020
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Yes, Hiking Canada’s Great Divide Trail (third edition 2017 – Revised and Updated) by Dustin Lynx. Great Divide Trail Accommodation You will see canyons, cross over passes, and walk on open ridges. This can be adapted based on the campsites available. It also allows taking advantage of the longest days of summer. Continuing to Kakwa Lake adds about 200km of hiking to a remote area where catching a ride back south can be a problem if not previously arranged. The “trail” itself is incomplete; … National Park Backcountry Permits are also required for any overnight stays in the backcountry of the national parks. On April 22, I'll begin my third long trek, connecting the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in the United States to Canada's Great Divide Trail (GDT) for a 3,800-mile traverse along the spine of the Rockies. Trail Profile: The Great Divide Trail, 680 Miles Through the Canadian Rockies The very name “Great Divide Trail” is a bit of a misnomer, implying a walk on a cleared two-foot-wide strip of dirt. After miles of sublime, airy ridge walking on Jasper National Park’s Skyline Trail, I exited a tunnel of trees into a wide patch of tundra sweeping up to the fortress of 8,839-foot Mt. The greatest challenge the GDT may pose is route-finding. Most days feature excellent views of the surrounding mountains and visits to lakes. Finally, stores may not carry the preferred food items, so this could greatly impact the diet. They aren’t looking for self-actualization or a shot at a memoir. Outlining the six major sections of the GDT, the guidebook breaks the trail into shorter, more attainable segments and thoroughly describes the terrain and condition of each. It follows the Great Divide in the Rocky Mountains, weaving between Alberta and British Columbia for over 1,100km and crossing some of the most scenic parks in Canada. We have broken down the trail by section to give you an idea of what your itinerary could look like. The Great Divide Trail traverses the continental divide between Alberta and British Columbia, wandering through the vast wilderness of the Canadian Rocky Mountains for more than 1100 kilometres. So even if you have significant long-distance trail experience, there are things you need to know before you get on the CDT. “It isn’t the kind of trail to cut your teeth on,” Taig says. They want deep immersion in wilderness. Christine Smith, 52, of Calgary, is another one, completing an end-to-end in 2012 and a section hike in 2015. There are many ways to plan the trek and campgrounds with a fee can be avoided if they are all booked or if there are budget constraints. The trail has said to possibly be the … After dinner, food should be stored high in a tree or in a bear canister, away from camp. “This is a hard, hard trail that takes some of the best thru-hikers in the world and humiliates them,” says Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, who hiked it in 2016. Most sections will also be snow-free and the rivers should be quieter. Do not rely on solely a GPS device; paper maps never fail. Some stretches as long as 200km are in the backcountry and offer no option for resupplying. Permit The Parks Canada Discovery Pass (free in 2017) and an Annual Wilderness Pass ($68.70 CAD) are required. The CDT, alongside the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail make up the triple crown of hiking. In his pursuit of unspoiled wilderness, Pacific Northwest Field Editor Ted Alvarez has an easier time finding grizzly bears than hiking partners. There are only three towns that sell groceries and gear along the way. For starers, three ecosystems—Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, Arctic—converge on the divide. In the simplest terms, it’s a route that heads north from the Canadian border thru the Rocky Mountains. This trail is known for its beauty and its ruggedness. This unique trail concept certainly would have been fun to walk. There are stores in towns crossed â or reached by a short detour â and most will accept major credit cards or Canadian cash. Way too close. The GDTâs southern terminus is Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, right where the USâ Continental Divide Trail ends. “It’s doing a great job maintaining the trail,” she says, “building new trail, and raising awareness.”. Most camping sites have water either at the site or nearby. The first part of my Great Divide Trail thru-hike from Robson to Jasper. Most sites allow fires, but fire bans may apply later in the summer if the weather has been dry. No, as only parts of sections A and B are well-marked. If you have not arranged a ride, you will need to hike out for 75Â km on a forest road. Bighorn sheep sun themselves above Michele Lakes (mile 410). Depending on any given year's snow-pack and a hiker's individual schedule, alternative routes are available. The result is a labor of love set to become one of North America's most magnificent long trails. Pikas pinballed between the rocks, and as everything went silver in fading light, I saw two dozen mountain goats freckling a brow of granite 500 feet above me. Some provincial park campgrounds require reservations. The CDT is the longest and most rugged of America’s long-distance hiking trails. Frost coated the inside of my tent, and with the door open, it glittered in the moonlight. Great Divide Trail Itinerary Instead, this trail delivers so much more; part wilderness, part rugged equestrian and game trail, and yes, part hiking trail. Much of the CDT requires route finding, and many thru-hikers report that they had to check their maps and compass as frequently as every fifteen minutes. And after five days on the GDT, I came to my own conclusion about whether the trail needs saving or secrecy. Just 44 percent is on maintained trail; 33 percent is unmaintained, of which 10 percent is raw, cross-country navigation (the rest is road or ATV track). Odds of hitching a ride are better on day two. Like any through-hike, there are two possible directions. While this trail offers tremendous views, it should not be taken lightly. A hiker crests the GDT’s 8,500-foot high point (mile 411), which, fittingly, lacks an official name. So what exactly is the Great Divide Trail? If you’re a fan of America’s long trails, the last couple years have been a little like watching your favorite bar band turn into U2. It is concurrent with the Colorado Trail for approximately 200 miles (320 km). The software engineer is building a GDT app with Atlas Trail Guides and writing a coffee table book. Through binoculars, their coming winter coats looked like pulled cotton balls. No one knows for sure, because that estimate is cobbled together from Facebook group reports and wildlife agency motion sensors catching the rare mud-caked hiker in between all the cougars and grizzlies. Section C runs from the Kananaskis Lakes Day Use Area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, to the town of Field, British Columbia in Yoho National Park. Summer is also bear season as they come out to feast on berries and insects. Hiking First Aid Kit: Stay Safe in the Backcountry! A designated cooking spot should be established at least 100m away from the tent in a downwind location. Assiniboine, a Matterhorn döppelganger, reflected in Lake Magog. While the official way is to hike to Kakwa Lake in Kakwa Provincial Park, most trekkers choose to end their journey at Mount Robson. During that period, all park and town services will be open. The GDT is in the Canadian Rockies, stretching through the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia. As this trail is in Western Canada, English is spoken in all towns and villages along the way. It was an awesome hike, filled with insane views and long days. Packages can be sent to drop points to allow for re-supply. The distances covered each day depend on personal preference, but some days can have over 30km and 1,000m in elevation gain. As a father of two, I try to get out into the wilderness as often as I can, passing a spirit of outdoor adventure onto my … Animals may be attracted by the smell of food, so protecting it is important. The Great Divide Trail – An Overview. NOTE: This is a very long motorcycle/road biking trail. The common denominators are the Rocky Mountains and the Great Divide, which separates the water that flows into the Pacific Ocean from the water that flows into Hudson Bay. They also have stores or markets, but some only sell the basics and others are off route. This is the longest and wildest section. Detailed route descriptions, excellent maps, alternate routes, and tips garnered from first-person experience combine with thorough contact and resupply information to make this book mandatory for anyone planning excursions along … The Great Divide trail traces the spine of the Canadian Rockies for 746 miles, but I only needed 18 to see how wild it can be. “I am happy I did the trail when I did, as I enjoyed the solitude. This 32km side-trip leads to a classic spot of the Rockies and this touristic area may be a good bet to catch a ride back home. Aiming for the late June to mid-September window is the safest option. The words and encouragement from Larry, Keith and Leslie led us directly to where we are now: flying to Calgary in eleven hours to go hike the Great Divide Trail for two months. For 30 years, some wide-eyed dreamers have been chiseling a 745-mile route through the Canadian Rockies. The Great Divide Trail should be attempted between late June and mid-September. The Great Divide trail traces the spine of the Canadian Rockies for 746 miles, but I only needed 18 to see how wild it can be. They want to disappear. Americaâs next long trail should cross the Great Plains, says the pathâs pioneer, Steve Myers. The route is really more of a corridor than a trail. “The GDT truly embodies everything there is to love and protect in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but if we continue to keep it off the map, it may become more legend than reality.”. On the other hand, just 30 or 40 people tried to tackle the GDT in one gulp last summer; section hikers numbered in the dozens. The Great Divide Trail takes around 45-56 days to complete. Trekkers must do their research before starting this beautiful adventure. Sit down and think back on your fantastic journey. The right way to end a through-hike like this one is to get a hot shower and celebrate! That means they only complete one section and then return another year to complete another section until they have hiked it from start to finish. For GDT hikers, this affects camping in Peter … “I have mixed feelings about this,” she says. The south will be snow-free earlier in the summer. For that reason, there are no fixed rules or itinerary for completing it. Thru-hiking the CDT is an adventure of a lifetime, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Four years ago today, I made a decision that completely reshaped the course of my life: to thru-hike the 2200-mile Appalachian Trail. GDT – Stage 1- Waterton to Banff. Tekarra. Some towns also require a short detour, usually around 2-3km round-trip. Like many jurisdictions, reservations can only be made by Alberta residents. The highlights are Owen Pass, Michelle Pass, Pinto Pass, Jonas Shoulder, Maligne Pass, and Big Shovel Pass. You’ll be passing through five National Parks and eight Provincial Parks, as well as wilderness areas, so you’ll need to be alert for … The Great Divide Trail in Canada traverses the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia as its unsigned route wanders the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies for more than 1100 km (680 mi). To a young man who came of age here, it offers perspective on paths not taken. At 2,746m, this mountain does not require much effort and the views of Lake Magog and Mount Assiniboine â the Matterhorn of North America â are some of the best of the trek. So there you have it! Great Divide Trail Thru Hike Here's a video I just finished on my thru hike of Canada's Great Divide Trail. In early August, wildflowers erupt along the bottomlands of the Howes River (mile 346). The starting point of the section is in Yoho National Park, close to the impressive Natural Bridge, which is well worth a visit. This is Section C, one of the middle sections of it. Hiking the Great Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart and can be a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. Had the griz I saw before returned, or was this a second one? I arrived at the trailhead before midnight and went straight to Banff, where I waded through a line of drunken 20-year-olds to eat two large pizzas at 2 a.m. The Grand Italian Trail (3,831 miles) The Grand Italian Trail is a trail through Italy that spans the … I bedded down alone with the white spike of Mt. Some believe the trail’s obscurity—it’s not even officially recognized by the Canadian government—will protect it from the masses, and want to keep it under wraps. For all this talk of saving the trail, it’s worth noting that the GDT is really more of a route than a track. Viewing Assiniboine’s majestic reflection in the crystal clear waters of Lake Magog, rates as one of the highlights of the Great Divide Trail, a rugged backcountry route through the Canadian Rockies that ranks as one of North America’s most spectacular (and challenging) long-distance hikes. There are various side-trips to choose from to lengthen the trek or get to different viewpoints. Signage encountered along the way will only be for local trails. In the four years since I first set foot on Springer Mountain, I've also thru-hiked the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, as well as the much shorter Long Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail, all together totaling 5,400 miles. Beyond attracting visitors and conserving unprotected sections of wilderness, it could also conceivably remove the byzantine mess of permits and reservations thru-hikers need to hike and camp legally. For that reason, it is much less travelled and not always signed. The Great Divide Trail is not officially designated and not always even an actual trail, sometimes merely a wilderness route, … Great Divide Trail (GDT) – Post Hike Thoughts November 4, 2018 by Beardoh and SweetPea For us, it felt a lot of times that the GDT was suffering from schizophrenia…on the one hand, we were often walking through unbelievably beautiful landscapes, yet on the other hand, we encountered some of the worst trail we have come across. Today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates. Last weekend marked the four week mark until I embark on thru hike of the Great Divide Trail (GDT) ... Thirty years later (my god has it been that long), I still vividly recall the first time I climbed the head-wall into Three Isle Lake and boiling up hot dogs on the top of Heart Mountain. You want to experience a two-month immersion in a North American wilderness the region’s first explorers would recognize? This trek is a unique way to enjoy pure mountain wilderness away from the crowds and visit several parks that are on many hikersâ bucket list. It became immediately clear that spending days alone above treeline is a rare privilege—one that’s hard to find on any trail anywhere—and I’m loath to think that might change. Thousands cross the Great Divide Trail partially, with much fewer managing to hike the entire route. Two months and a half seems very short for 1,125 kilometres. Don't have time to hike all 1,200 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail? But she’s more ambivalent when it comes to spreading the word. Plan for a thru-hike to take about eight weeks. This is what the Canadian Rockies are all about! Hikers are still few and far between, but with more people tackling the GDT each summer, the debate comes at a critical time. Note that from the Kakwa Lake Trailhead, you are still a long way from civilization. A paw the size of a pie followed, and then I saw the shovel nose, beady eyes, and small ears confirming this was a griz, 25 yards away. Hikers trade tattered copies of the 10-year-old guidebook (the only one in existence, currently out of print), offer tips on surviving the Great Divide’s capricious weather, and, of course, carpool the Great Divide way (“anybody want to share a floatplane from Kakwa Lake?”). The best way to enjoy the Canadian Rocky Mountains is deep and total immersion in this stunning wilderness that only a few places on Earth can rival. It is one of the most spectacular and challenging long‐distance trails on the planet. With bear spray in hand and my heart hammering, I leapfrogged another 200 yards up the trail. “There are 26 miles of elevation gain—it’s a vertical marathon from start to finish.”. Few blazes, fewer trail angels: Canadaâs Great Divide Trail offers a rare chance to go back in time and experience the birth of a thru-hike. We go way deep down the rabbit hole on why polyester tents are making a comeback and are possibly the ultimate fabric for shelters, how he's able to execute on his philosophy of creating … This section goes through beautiful Banff National Park and its famous alpine scenery and meadows. Contact For logistical info, packing suggestions, and trail support, visit the Great Divide Trail's website. As I neared the trail again, I choked when I saw another silvered hump passing through a break in the trees, 10 feet away. Some of the highlights of this section include hiking on ridges and along rivers and creeks, stunning mountain lakes and great views of the divide, High Rock Range, and Beehive Mountain. About 90% of the route is on established trails or tracks, but there are no signs marking the GDT. Distance: 309.1 miles (497.3 km) Time: 10.5 days (8/16/11 – 8/26/11) Daily Average: 29.4 miles (47.4 km) Highlights: Waterton National Park: It is difficult to imagine a more spectacular … Read More … Categories Thru Hikes Tags canada, gift of time, … It’s the GDT’s composite wildness that sets it apart from any hike in the Lower 48. Copyright Â© 2020 10Adventures Inc. All rights reserved. The unofficial motto of the Continental Divide Trail: Embrace the Brutality. Categories Great Divide Trail, The Hiking Life Blog Tags 12 Long Walks, Backpacking, Cam Honan, Great Divide Trail, Hiking. I’d gotten a big helping of what makes the Great Divide Trail so special, and so daunting: living through triumphs and tragedies of your own making in the wild, and coming out the other side feeling more capable than before. Here, you will enter Jasper National Park and as would be expected, it is eye candy. “It’s like the PCT 30 years ago,” says River Taig, 47, a software engineer from Colorado who has thru-hiked the GDT three times. The length depends on your itinerary, pace, and trail conditions. Sate your hiker hunger with these fan favorites. Anyone tackling this trek must enjoy backcountry camping. This section was closed in 2018 due to the forest fires. It runs along the Alberta/British Columbia border, criss-crossing the Continental Divide many times. Walking long distances in the wilderness can take a toll and you’ll be wise to remember that many wild and dangerous animals call this their home. Unlike the PCT, my route will cover a few hundred miles of route finding, including a next-level alternate on Wyoming's Wind River High Route. Volunteer dedication, love, and pennies are basically all that prop the trail up for now. Length:2700 - 3150 miles (depending on route) Time to hike:5-6 months Start and end points: 1. Food will also be an important part of planning. The Basics of the Great Divide Trail After miles of sublime, airy ridge walking on Jasper National Park’s Skyline Trail, I exited a tunnel of trees into a wide patch of tundra sweeping up to the fortress of 8,839-foot Mt. As the GDT goes up to 2,590m and snowfall in July and August is a possibility, you should also carry a GPS device and maps, to help you find your way if you wake up to the trail covered in snow. It is extremely varied and geographically significant. At the same time, the word is out.”, Ultimately, she decided protection outweighs privacy, and, like a lot of repeat customers, she joined the Great Divide Trail Association, the trail’s nascent advocacy organization. You will be rewarded with your first views of Mount Robson, the highest point of the Canadian Rockies. 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