Last night felt like our coldest night on trail. I don’t think it actually was, but going to bed cold and wet, surrounded by snow, and sustained off and on precipitation through the night didn’t create any warm cozy feelings. Kyle slept with his puffy jacket and rain jacket on; I kept on my puffy jacket after I put it on when I sat up to nurse Toothless. Despite the cold, Toothless slept well and only woke once which meant we all felt fairly well-rested in the morning.
We packed up our cold, wet gear and got everyone dressed in an interesting hodgepodge of the driest clothing available and set off down the “trail” – actually an old road for the first part of today. The slush on the road froze overnight, so we try to find the bare spots and go slow to not slip on the ice. Thankfully this doesn’t last for long and soon we reach bare road where the snow didn’t stick.
About halfway to the trailhead, there’s a junction with some steep-ish singletrack that allows us to get off the road, so we hop off the official route onto our DIY alternate for a few kilometres. Toothless is up from his morning nap and definitely enjoys the non-rainy weather and nice trail, though he starts to get a bit impatient for a wiggle break just before we reconnect with the official route.
Our singletrack trail reconnects at a 5 or 6 way intersection between singletrack and wide paved multi-use trails. It’s a nice convenient spot for a break with lots of space to sit off to the side of the cyclists using the multi-use trail. The sun is even fully out! We adjust layers, and Kyle swaps to carrying Toothless for the next stretch.
Onto the multi-use trail and we make our way to Edith Lake which offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The snow covering their peaks is much prettier from down here when we aren’t navigating it in low visibility. We stop here for lunch at the picnic tables and talk about how we made the wrong call yesterday and our concerns about our plans for Section F/G. We’ll need to seriously look at the weather forecast and reports on the water crossings to figure out what we are going to do. Toothless is so happy today getting to enjoy the sunshine and trails, and it really highlights how much he hasn’t been enjoying the ongoing rainy days we’ve experienced.
After Edith Lake we opt to take the Bighorn Alley trail directly into town like we did in 2018. After crossing the river, it takes you alongside the train tracks just uphill of the highway which again offers very pretty views of those snow-covered peaks. Kyle’s tendons start to bug him again once we hit the last paved section into town, so we swap again and slow the pace a bit.
And we made it! Our room at the hostel is even ready, so we drop off our bags and make our way to find our first of many burgers and beers before we start figuring out what the end of the trail looks like for us.
It turns out the weather forecast isn’t particularly promising for the next week; a chance of rain most days and low temperatures which means potential snow if we were continue to Blueberry Lake as we had hoped. Our other 2 options are to stop here in Jasper or at Moose River. Moose River would be 5 days, we’d have some rain, but shouldn’t get any snow.
Stopping in Jasper just feels so incomplete, so we decide to go to Moose River, but we’ll need to buy a few extra layers for everyone to keep us (and especially Toothless) happy and comfortable through the cool and wet. Since we have to take a lot of breaks with him, we can’t just rely on moving to keep us warm like we normally do and we’ve found our gear isn’t quite up to keeping us warm and happy at all our breaks in the cooler weather.
Turns out that outfitting a baby with warm gear in a trail town in the summer isn’t exactly easy – we visit every single gear store in town before we find some toddler-sized gear that will hopefully work. Not ideal, but he’ll definitely get good use out of it next year too. We end up spending far too much money, but at least we know we will get extended use out of the clothing in the future and it isn’t just for these 5 days – at least that’s what I’m telling myself to justify the cost.
Several more burgers (and AYCE curry) later and we tuck into our indoor beds for the last time ready to almost finish the trail. We’ll still need to figure out doing the ~50km we missed in Section D, but that’s a problem for future Kyle and Natasha.