Section E Reflection

My ankle has improved. Resting before starting the section, using K tape early on and taking a tonne of Advil seems to have helped a lot. Sometimes I slip and pull something in it, but I can keep that from getting bad with the above.

One person in front helps fend off people when Toothless naps. You can go like 20m ahead and chat and say he’s asleep and that tends to keep people from waking him. Natasha usually just blurts “baby is asleep” but I usually say hi first.

The section between Pinto Lake and Cataract Pass can get confusing and needs to get cleared up. The trail is braided, has old blazes and new trail with flagging tape. It’s easy to follow a new trail that does not go where you need it (but it follows close for a bit), or straight up lose the trail for a bit. It’s just unfortunately much worse trail than the rest of the section. We took a wrong turn both in 2018 and this year. It’s not fun to hike if you have to follow a blue dot on your phone.

There are two horse camps that seem to be abandoned between Pinto Lake and the Cataract Creek ford. These are not marked on the GPS but are along the GDT track. They have potential to fill some voids in the campground availability – Pinto Lake is very popular and after that there aren’t a lot of options that can accomodate many hikers until after Cataract Pass.

My shoes failed in A but my new shoes with preemptive shoe goo are holding up better. They were doing great until we had to hike in frozen shoes; now I see some minor cracks.

It’s hard not carrying Toothless for the first few days. I really wish we had shorter food carries so I could spent more time with him in those days. We make it up in other ways and I carry him plenty once we eat some of the food so Natasha and I can swap gear/ food but I just love carrying him.

The pictograms are pretty cool. Very glad we took a better look this time.

I still love Cataract Pass. It’s a different experience in the snow, but it’s amazing.

I love Jasper.

Malign Valley is not that bad. It’s wet. Sometimes frustrating but not nearly as bad as the Ameswki. It does feel close to a point where it’s getting overgrown enough that people are avoiding the route, or sometimes braiding sections. Some light trail work with hand tools would have a huge benefit.

My pack is failing. I will need a new one after this hike. So far the frame system has failed in two locations. Honestly I’m kinda done with it. I could repair it but it might be worthwhile to buy a new one or make my own.

The umbrella is great for snow and hail! It also blocks wind really well.

We sometimes make bad decisions. Thankfully we were still safe enough and got through but I think, for example, we should not have hiked the Notch in the snow. It’s obvious in retrospect but we put too much weight on the weather forecast predicting the snow would let off by the time we got up to th ridge. This was incorrect so being on the ridge was much less safe than it should have been.

A week and a half of snow and rain is highlighting that our gear keeps us (and Toothless) safe, warm and dry but not necessarily comfortable or happy under sustained poor, wet weather. For us to be happier, and for Toothless to get in his wiggle time that he needs, we need to have warmer gear and some extra clothes that can keep our sleep baselayers separate from our daytime clothing. Usually they are separate but our current system relies on some overlap between the two in periodic extreme weather.

Our diaper system doesn’t work great in sustained wet weather. They just don’t dry.

Going into Section F, we have looked at the weather forecast and instead of heading to Blueberry Lake we decided to finish at Moose River. This will allow us to avoid snow and wet weather at the end of the section and gives us a more balanced weather forecast, which should be more fun for Toothless. It shortens the section to be only 5 days total. We have also purchased some warmer gear (including boots for Toothless) and have more redundancy in our clothing. We also decided to carry disposable diapers to ensure he has dry diapers. While not as light as carrying cloth diapers, for a 5 day section it’s doable and less stressful. To offset some of the new gear weight, we have left some items in Jasper to pick up when we finish.

Looking myself while sitting here in Jasper, I have realized that I have gotten much thinner than I have ever been in recent memory. I am thinner now than I was at the end of our 2018 GDT thru. We have really been at a calorie deficit on this thru.

3 thoughts on “Section E Reflection

  1. CJ says:

    I’ve been using your gear list – particularly’s Toothless’ – as the framework for our gear list with our kiddo (5 months old), so I’d love to read about how you’d modify it for your next trip(s).

    Seems like Toothless enjoyed the front carry the whole way – which is impressive – our kiddo wants all the freedom in the world and I have a hard time imagining carrying them on the front for a long hike, but the backpack carriers are so damn heavy. We’re giving the backpack one a-go on this upcoming ~60km shakedown. How did you find the hiking with Toothless being on the front and obstructing the view of your feet/where to step?

    Thanks for your content – it’s inspiring to see families taking their kids on hikes and I especially enjoy seeing the ones doing it lightweight. Appreciate the sharing, I’ve learnt a lot!

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    • kyle says:

      Hi CJ;

      Thank you for the comment and feedback! I’m glad this info is actually helpful to someone!

      I am writing a post that summarizes the gear changes over the trip and our opinions of the gear. I wrote our initial gear breakdown here (https://backpacksandbikeracks.com/2021/07/13/gdt-2021-gear-list/) and was planning on mirroring that with our opinions at the end of the trip. I am hoping to make another Lighterpack gear list that reflects the final gear list. That will be posted this year sometime. When do you want to see this info? I might be able to pull this ahead. I’m wrapping up parental leave this week so only have another 4 days of extra free time but am hoping to make time for this post soon.

      As for front carry, we lucked out and our little guy almost exclusively does front carry at home (for errands and walks) and hiking. We do use our Happybaby carrier to back carry sometimes but that’s usually for running errands so he just seems to prefer front carrying. We have a structured carrier but haven’t really used it because of all of those drawbacks. We probably will start to use it this winter though. I can understand a kiddo wanting freedom 🙂

      Front carrying can get tough on the shoulders and back for long durations. We honestly can only do a few hours at a time comfortably but we usually try to swap. Hiking a full day with Toothless in the carrier and a backpack full of gear (and some food) can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Mostly it’s because he moves around and the weight is never well distributed. I’m sure this is similar with structured carriers.

      On good trails visibility of your feet is less of a problem, but it’s mostly a problem where it’s brushy or technical. I don’t really look at my feet on a good quality trail. I just kind of look ahead and my brain just kind of interpolates. In situations where I want to look down I am usually being a bit more careful and going slower anyways. So with the carrier on we just hiked slower in technical spots – it was just a question of how slow we needed to go. We were impressed with how agile we could be to climb over deadfall or climb over boulders, talus and “scrambly” bits. We did have challenges sometimes though. We didn’t do an alternate in Section D because it was going to rain and had about 7km of talus to carefully walk over. We probably could have done it (I think because we did do a lot of talus in other parts of the trail) but very, very slowly. I have also at times tripped when going too fast when it was too brushy to see ahead.

      Thanks again for your comments! Keep an eye here for those follow up posts and gear lists!

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  2. cjchiddy says:

    Hey – thanks so much for the follow-up! I’m in no rush, and look forward to reading your gear reflections when you get to them. We’re heading out for the next 4-days for a hike with the structured carrier, so we’ll see how that goes. We’ve managed to get the three of our gear into the bags/pockets on the structured carrier + my partner’s SWD pack. It’s tight though and I’m not sure we’d be able to get more in for a longer trip that would necessitate carrying more food.

    I agree that with a good trail not having to pay attention – it was the sections of talus/deadfall – that made me wonder, although I’m also worried about the structured carrier in those situations because the weight is so far from your back that it can feel unbalanced at times. I’ll see how this week goes and we’ll make plans from there.

    We’ve followed your posts on this year’s GDT hike with great interest and you’ve piqued my curiosity of the Sunshine Coast Trail. Thanks again.

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