GDT kms: 17.5
It took me seemingly forever to get to sleep last night, so when our alarm went off at 6:30am so we would be up to catch the buffet as soon as it opened at 7:00am, I was definitely not ready to get up. We packed up some of our stuff and then went to the breakfast buffet. I majorly overestimated my hunger and made myself two waffles stacked on top of each other with syrup, whipped cream, and berries in between them and then I was barely able to eat half. I guess it’s a good thing that hiker hunger hasn’t hit us much as it means we’ve been eating enough on the trail.
After breakfast, we finished packing our bags, checked out and walked back along the highway to where the trail started. We started by following the Saskatchewan River for a ways and then passed by a cabin and outhouse (which was in surprisingly good condition). Then we started to follow our new best friend for the day, the Owen Creek, upstream. This section of the GDT has the longest climb of the trail, about 1100m over 11km, which follows Owen Creek up to Owen Pass.
On our way up, we met another southbounder and tried to warn him a bit about what he would face in the next section.
As we are walking along the trail, I felt a sudden sharp stabbing pain in my left calf. After shrieking and freaking Kyle out a bit, I looked down and realized I was getting stung by hornets. We quickly hustled away from the nest and I investigated the damage – it turned out to only be two stings and they weren’t swelling too much, so we carried on.
We reached a junction in the trail with a blazed tree and stupidly didn’t double check the map before picking a trail. As we are heading up the not yet known to us as wrong trail, I hear Kyle curse behind me and stumble – he’s been stung by hornets now too. I think he got it worse than me though as he got stung in the face and hand. He’s never been stung before, so we take a few minutes to sit and make sure he doesn’t have any weird reactions. Everything seeming alright, we continue up the trail.
After a little while longer, we wanted to check where we were at in the climb. I pull out my phone and look – fuck we are off the trail. We were only 300m away from the trail, but the hill seemed to steep and potentially cliffy to just traverse over to it, so we grudgingly backtracked about 1km to where we got off route.
The rest of the day was spent hoping across Owen Creek depending on which side was walkable and encountering a lot of cairns with seemingly no purpose. At the pass, we found a bottle of cheap whiskey with less than a shot left – Kyle didn’t want any of the “mystery alcohol” so I drank it on my own and we packed out the empty bottle.
As we were coming down the pass, we encountered a herd of mountain goats (or sheep?) with probably around 15 individuals including some lambs within 50m of us.
This definitely elevated the day to one of my favourites. It was challenging, but not too hard, and the reward of the views and wildlife at the top was well worth it. Could have definitely done without taking the wrong trail and the hornets, but otherwise an awesome day.