GDT Day 53 – 🎵this is a highway, and I’m gonna walk it all day long🎵

Mileage: 28.8 km (1 km Bighorn Alley, 1.1 km main route, 1.5 km pipeline, 3.3 km main route, 4.9 km pipeline, 17 km main route)

We got packed and checked out of the hostel pretty quickly today. I was pleased with our efficiency.

However we stopped off at Cocos for breakfast (to go) as we have every time we have been in Jasper including our 2018 thru. Unfortunately this took a bit of time so I stood outside in the cold for a while as Natasha and Toothless waited inside. Still, it wasn’t bad timing, but felt like a lot of waiting when I just wanted to get moving. During this time we met a couple of other GDT hikers that finished in Jasper and had seen our notes in the trail logbooks. It was nice chatting but a little odd knowing we still had to hike out today and they were done.

Today we are heading out to the Miette River Trailhead, where we will be random camping nearby.

This means the longest highway walk on the GDT is ahead of us. There are a few alternates we might try to get off the road but the quality of those routes is poor and we might end up trading getting off the road for a slower, harder route. This roadwalk, while long, is one of the best ones on the GDT given the width of the shoulder and the number of rest stops along the way.

Either way, its chilly out today.

After putting on my warmer (new) hoodie we started walking out of town and eating breakfast. I had a cup of coffee and a breakfast wrap. You can do this because there are so many opportunities to throw trash out on the highway, we could take our time and eat while walking.

Almost immediately we pulled onto the Pipeline Alt. This was mostly easy and better than the highway; it’s a dirt road and you eventually turn into single track. However there is construction, so there is about 100 m or so of the single track that is covered in temporary wooden road surfaces. We just walked on this, past the flagging, avoided the workers and then jumped back off the construction zone and onto the rest of the single track.

This spits you out on the highway near a rest stop/ trailhead (trash cans, pull out). So I threw some trash out and we got back on the highway for a bit.

Walking on the road this time was not too bad. We only have 4.5 days worth of food, plus some extra gear, which is still much lighter than our 10+ day food carry from 2018. I was trashed in 2018 from this but felt nimble today.

We are only hiking 5 more days (4 nights) before finishing the GDT (other than tagging the part of Section D we missed due to my injury). Originally the plan was to finish at Mt Robson, but the Berg Lake Trail is closed. So our options were:

  • Finish in Jasper
  • Finish at Moose River Trailhead
  • Finish at Blueberry Lake Trailhead
  • Finish at Kakwa

Jasper was too close, Kakwa too far (still not feasible with Toothless) so we had a week ago chosen to stop at Blueberry Lake. This would have taken us 8 days. However we checked the forecast while in Jasper and the week likely will have snow and a lot of precipitation. After last week, with the snow and rain, we decided to change our plans to stop at Moose River, which is closer and only takes 5 days.

This makes the last 5 days more balanced between rain and not rain, which is more fun for Toothless. It also shaves the last few days off which were expecting snow, so again it’s more fun for Toothless and less stressful for us. Finally it lets us avoid some challenging water crossings that we are sure we can do, but would be challenging in a week with heavy precipitation.

So that’s our goal.

In order to be more comfortable in the colder or wet weather we had bought some warmer gear in Jasper.

  • I bought two pairs of Darn Tough wool socks. I kept one pair of my running toe socks and left the other in Jasper.
  • Natasha bought two pairs of socks and ditched all of her toe socks in Jasper
  • I bought a midlayer hoodie. I kept my other shirts. My poofy will be a nightime warm layer and this midlayer will be a daytime warm layer. This keeps my nightime clothes dry.
  • Natasha did the same as me, but is wearing her poofy during the day and her new shirt at night.
  • Both Natasha and I bought warmer gloves. I left my sun gloves in Jasper. My running gloves will remain available as bedtime gloves.
  • We bought Toothless warm boots and socks. We are leaving his shoes in Jasper
  • We bought Toothless a warmer bedtime layer. His current sleep clothes will be a daytime warm layer under his sun clothes.

I wore my new hoodie and man, that’s comfortable.

The roadwalk was reasonably short before reaching the next pipeline alt. We jumped onto this and were disappointed at how slow we were going. The grass is thick, tall and wet so it gets quite tangled and hard to walk quickly on. Certainly less quick than the road. So at the next junction where we could take the old railbed we chose to just use the highway instead.

The rest of the road was fast and uneventful.

We reached the next junction before we knew it. We turned off and found more construction. And signs saying not to enter. So of course, we entered and quickly got past the temporary road and back into dirt road. Which then quickly turned into the Miette River Trail so we were in the clear.

Toothless woke up (he slept through most of the road!) and was in a great mood. We took a break along the trail (which is just an old road or railbed anyways) and he wiggled around and enjoyed a bit of sunshine.

We made good time here and reached the trailhead and camped there.

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