It rained off and on all night, but for once we ended up on the “good” side of the weather forecast and the 50% chance of rain for the morning turned into blue skies as we packed up.
We took out our very last bars from the ursack, crossed our fingers that our resupply package had gotten to the Shovel Pass Lodge successfully, and set off on the trail.
The trail was wide, pleasant and well-graded, allowing us to shut off the navigation and technical footwork parts of our brains and just enjoy the walking and the views for the first time in several days. Even the slowly increasing cloud cover didn’t bring back the ever present stress about diapers since we had a heated indoor space for the night.
On our way up to Little Shovel Pass we saw a doe and two very curious fawns who seemed fascinated by us before finally following after mom. Up and over the pass and a noticeable chill started to set in and Toothless made us very aware he did not enjoy having to partially disrobe for his diaper change. We pulled out his down blanket to bundle him up in the carrier and then we carried on to descend towards Snowbowl and then up Big Shovel Pass. The portion of blue sky continued to shrink, but the clouds remained relatively high and we still had good views of the surrounding area as we made our way up.
I was enjoying the good trail and generally just in the zone when we passed a group and got my least favourite question, “Baby’s first hike?” I’m not really sure why this question in particular rubs me the wrong way, but it definitely does. Maybe just because of how presumptuous it is? Like, odds are, if you see someone on the trail, it probably isn’t their first time out there; it really isn’t any different for families and their babies and kids. As we hiked on, my snarky side decided I should start responding to the question with, “Nope. Is this your first hike?”
By the time we reached Big Shovel Pass, any trace of blue sky was gone and the clouds were starting to get lower and look more ominous. As we went down towards our junction where we would take a 1.1km detour from the GDT to Shovel Pass Lodge the raindrops started to fall intermittently. Slowly there got to be enough of them to justify pulling on our pack covers and Kyle pulled out the umbrella to cover himself and Toothless. I had my puffy jacket on and considered pulling on my rain jacket, but gambled that the rain would remain light as we had less than 2km to go.
We turned down our junction and the rain started to ramp up into an actual downpour as we followed the switchbacks and quickly lost over 100m of elevation. Initially my thoughts were annoyance at needing to climb back up this tomorrow, but that quickly turned to regretting my earlier decision to not pull out my rain jacket as my puffy was starting to soak through. It reminded me of the last time we had been on the Skyline Trail and we’d be in a rainstorm on the ridge after the Notch and for some reason neither of us had put on our rain pants; there was a long stretch with no real options to take shelter and it would have been a bad situation if either of us had gotten hurt. Only a few hundred metres until the Lodge – we would be able to warm up in the main lodge even if our cabin wasn’t ready, right?
We see the lodge and quickly make our way through the puddles to the porch. Looking through the window, it us suspiciously dark inside. I try the door. Locked. Pull out my phone to double check the confirmation email: “The main lodge is open between 7am to 9pm daily.”
“Maybe try that other building that was on our right,” Kyle suggests. I grab the umbrella and leave Kyle and Toothless on the sheltered porch to check out the other buildings. The building on the right was just a storage shed and every other building I can see is much smaller; this must be the main lodge. I return to report my findings and then try the front door again, maybe I didn’t actual turn the knob fully? Still locked.
We start to get ready to settle ourselves in to wait on the porch until someone shows up or the rain lets up and we can poke around a bit more. I’m about to take my pack off when I see a shadow move inside the window – there is someone here! She unlocks the door and invites us in, gets us checked into our cabin with some hot water for tea and shows us how to operate the heating and lighting.
So certainly not the smartest decision to let my puffy get soaked, but it all worked out in the end. As we get settled in and rig up a line to dry diapers and air out our gear, it starts raining even more intensely. Looking outside, the raindrops are looking awfully big when I realize that it is slushing and then it transitions to fully snowing. Thankful for the good trail that meant we got to the lodge early in the day (just after 12:30!) and the weather odds ended up in our favour, so we didn’t have to hike in the snow (again).
We’re holding off on requesting another weather forecast until tomorrow morning, but last we checked it was going to be rain again. Hopefully we’ll be able to leave with a full set of dry diapers that will last us the 1.5 days until we are in town in Jasper.