Today started with what has got to be one of my least favourite things to wake up to – frozen shoes. And since we had left a line up overnight, we also had a bunch of frozen diapers. And, the tent was covered both inside and out in frost.
Needless to say, we were not quick to get moving this morning. It’s embarrassing how long it took us to get on the trail, so I’m not even going to mention the time. Thankfully we had a relatively short day and good trail ahead of us to help make up for the late start.
Jasper is my favourite of the National Parks along the GDT, and Section E is also one of my favourite sections; today absolutely reinforced this. The gentle climb towards Jonas Pass and Shoulder was particularly beautiful in the sunshine and clear sky after days of smoke, rain and snow obscuring our views. It was topped off with the fresh dusting of icing sugar on the surrounding mountain peaks.
Toothless woke from his first nap and we stopped for our first break to de-layer everyone as we left camp quite bundled up due to the cold, and Toothless got his first real wiggle break in several days as there was no wet ground to worry about. During the break, Kyle declared that today was the day Toothless “officially” stood on his own since he seemed to be doing it with intent today and not just when he was transitioning between positions.
We’d finally eaten enough food and Kyle’s ankle was feeling good, so we swapped and Kyle carried Toothless for the first time since when we walked into Field. Up and over the pass, we continued towards Jonas Shoulder and the views just kept coming. As another hiker commented in Guthooks, “It’s so beautiful it’s almost obscene. Kids, cover your eyes.” Toothless took their advice to heart and decided to nap just before we went over the top of Jonas Shoulder.
And the views continued as we made our way back down until we got back below treeline just before Jonas Cutoff. A brief stop to take advantage of Jasper’s bizarre 3-seat bench toilets and then we walked the last 1.7km to McCready Horse Camp, our home for the evening.
The solitude was delightful compared to the busy Four Points and for a horse camp it was quite clean and uncontaminated with poop.
We took advantage of the horse tying posts (I’m sure there’s an actual word for these…) to hang a few diapers and tie off the ursack and tucked everyone into bed. Looking ahead, I think I planned a bit too conservatively, so we might push ahead a bit so we can have an ultra short day when we would pass by Maligne Lodge and spend some extended time there eating and charging items.