GDT kms: 35.0
We had a bit of a slow start this morning – the days shortening is starting to catch up with us and it was noticeably dark at the time we’ve typically gotten up.
We eventually hit the trail though and started the gentle climb to Maligne Pass. It was very pretty and meadowy once we were above the treeline. Shortly after we reached the top of the pass, we passed another southbounder, Peter from Vernon, and he warned us about the ‘shwack we had upcoming and let us know that Maligne Lake Lodge was open until 7pm and sold beer! We had initially been planning on camping about 5km before the lodge, but this gave us a good reason to push the extra little bit tonight.
As we descended the pass, the trail gradually got in worse condition – it really wasn’t that bad though. The sections through the forest had some deadfall, but otherwise they were quite pleasant. The sections through the meadows were extremely brushy and I was quite happy I kept my dance pants on all day despite the heat. We never lost the trail or felt it was hard to follow though despite the notes indicating we might. It seemed to us it was possible Parks Canada might have done some minimal maintenance – it was definitely easier than the notes indicated and at the campgrounds the bear hanging hardware seemed pretty new.
We stopped for lunch in a clear-ish spot in the meadow – despite it being pretty hot and exposed, it was actually pretty pleasant as there was a significant breeze.
After lunch the rest of the day was pretty monotonous – forest, brush, creek crossing, mud, repeat – but the walking was easy and quick.
We reached the lodge a bit before 6pm and quickly bought ourselves cider, a couple salads and a fruit cup. As a sat and ate we saw the lake get smokier and smokier – everything was getting that distinct orange glow when the sun is blocked by smoke. We decided we may as well get dinner at the lodge as well before they closed and each got the chili.
After we finished up, we walked back towards the parking lot and found a closed road to walk down and setup our tent just out of view of the main road. As we were setting up, the level of smoke was getting more worrisome and we noticed ash beginning to fall. Concerned there might be a fire nearby, we messaged our point person back home to check on our inreach. Thankfully they reported back there are no fires. There is a 50% chance of rain tomorrow, so hopefully that gets rid of the smoke and doesn’t start more fires if there is lightning.