We are halfway through the trail now, so now is probably a good time to reflect on how it’s been so far.
We planned our itinerary in a bit of detail and it has been pretty accurate so far. We have been trying to keep to our permits so we have made sure to work within those constraints. On a few occasions we found the days too short, but due to available camp sites or terrain we had to cover it would have been hard to extend those days much further without them being too long either. So we just sucked it up.
In some days we have had to turn back (Avion Ridge) or replan. This has been fine as well.
We shortened the time spent on Section C south of Banff by one day. This left us an extra day in Banff, which was quite expensive. We needed to be in Banff on July 28 for an appointment so we couldn’t pull everything ahead. We spent the time repairing gear, cleaning and eating.
We shortened the time spent on the Rockwall (remainder of Section C) by one day. Due to the surrounding smoke, I found the first two days to be quite long and tiring. It was manageable but tiring. The original schedule would have been a little more boring but still have good hiking days in it. I don’t regret shortening this section, and we can’t plan for wildfire smoke, but it would have been less of a struggle to do with shorter days.
We planned 3600 calories per day. We have been pretty much on that the entire time. Some days we eat less when it’s been easy but for a good day hiking it’s the right amount. We have not lost any noticeable weight, and don’t get severe hiker hunger in town. Unfortunately since we have finished early on a couple sections that leaves us with extra food. In future trips we will ship a little less food and fill the gaps in town.
We have ditched the peanut butter – it’s not our favourite in the heat. It works great for us in the PNW but it’s unbearable to eat in hot weather.
We really like the beans and rice recipe and prioritize it. I like my salmon mac and cheese for big days too – the cheese sauce is great and it’s very high in calories. The pesto noodles is less tasty but works so we eat it when we need to. We have done pesto noodles with actual pesto and that is much better in my opinion and is worth the weight if you displace some olive oil with the pesto.
We found that chocolate bars melt some days in the afternoon so I eat chocolate for breakfast and granola bars during the afternoon instead of the other way around.
My Arc Haul has been holding up quite nicely. Some wear, mostly on corners, but nothing excessive. I’m happy with the pack.
The tent (Z packs Duplex) is also holding up well. No issues so far.
The sleep system is great, if not a little warm sometimes. The sleeping pad and quilt are very cozy and have kept us warm on a few very frosty nights. We have also held out in the tent under the covers during hail and rain storms (one right now as I type this) and we stay nice and warm. The quilt also keeps warm when damp as we have learned on a heavy night of rain.
My shoes (Asics My Fuji Attack 4) are wearing alright and should last the trip. The sole started delaminating on the sides of the toes before Banff so we repaired them and the repair has held up since. Also the insoles are getting quite packed down. I might wear a hole in them.
Natasha’s shoes have holes in the usual spot.
Our toe socks have failed again and gotten holes after 350 kms or so. We have repaired them and hope they last to Saskatchewan Crossing where we will swap them out for a new pair.
I have a number of snags on my gaiters. Mostly from La Coullette Ridge. I’ve repaired those and they have held up.
We had one tent peg break and one bend a bit. This is our second tent peg to break ever. Not a bad record. We got a replacement in Banff.
Pretty much everything else is in good order. I’m quite impressed.
Our footprint tore in the high winds on Day 2. Our water filter hose also tore a hole in the same winds. I can’t blame the gear – these were very intense winds and the gear was not secured or put away. Lesson learned!
Our rain clothes have held up super well when bushwacking – no holes. Im very impressed with this since they are so lightweight and seem so fragile.
I tore my first hole in my normal hiking pants when bushwacking but that should be easy to repair.
So far I think our best day was Day 12. Unfortunately we did not find a good camp site that night, but the day started off very well for us and was overall very rewarding.
We have had plenty of other great days, including the day we actually did Avion Ridge, but Day 12 stands out to us.
At this point it’s Day 30. We had been dealing for several days with rain, poor trail with lots of bushwacking and hail storms at night. Despite this we stayed quite motivated. But on Day 30 when we thought the bad trail was over, after hiking through the horrible David Thompson Trail, we took the inland trail. We were given the opportunity to choose to hike on the river as an alternate route but we chose inland. This was the wrong choice. The trail was the worst trail I’ve seen and had so much blowdown. My best comparison is to throw a pile of toothpicks on a table and see how interlocked and spread out they are. It was just a big pile of trees. It was slow and poor footing. Natasha got stung by a bee (and the following day when we were hiking inland a bit I almost put my foot through a bee hive), we both got scraped up. Just bad.
Comments on Resupply Locations
So far we really enjoyed Coleman, but a lot of that opinion had to do with the Safe Haven Bed and Breakfast. Still though, the town was nice, had some history and we could walk around a bit to get snacks and get out.
Worst has been Banff, but we should have known better. It’s just busy and expensive. Good for repairing and replacing gear but not the right atmosphere otherwise.
We really liked Field but did not realize how hard it would be to get a place to sleep. We still enjoyed our afternoon there but had to camp on trail.
Saskatchewan Crossing has nice rooms but the pub is depressing and seems to have a really odd and poorly executed menu. The buffet may be better but I just expect larger quantities of bad food. The store is stocked well enough but is expensive. I would not call it a resort, but I would describe it as a nice motel with a pretty good store and gas station.