The day before, we drove down to Lake Louise, Alberta and stayed in a nice hotel in the town. We had a great dinner and filled up for breakfast before driving down to Ottertail Trailhead in Field, British Columbia. I wrote a quick little note for the dashboard of our car to notify Parks staff that we were on Section C and we switched to our trail shoes as we waited for our trail angel to arrive and give us a lift to our starting point. We were among the first to park in the parking lot that morning, so we found a spot right by the trail information sign.
I was in great spirits this morning and full of excitement over starting my first section hike. We had been preparing for it, although for only a month or so after my husband found himself without a hiking partner and I stepped up to fill the vacancy. We had been reviewing the map of the route, which appeared to be a reasonable distance, but once we got in the car and we kept driving further and further down the highway and past Canmore, Alberta, I finally understood what I had truly signed up for. I thought for sure we were going to turn off of the highway sooner, but we didn’t, until we were well out of Canmore and finally reached the turn toward Kananaskis Lake.
After saying our goodbyes to our trail angel and freshening up at the parking lot restrooms, we started at Kananaskis Lake Trail at 11am. We strolled along the side of the lake for a short distance and then stepped into the trees, passing by a few small slides with crushed rock paths. The walk to Forks campground was quite easy and gave my legs a warm up. There was some elevation gain, but it was manageable. It was raining when we got there and stood under a tree while we ate our lunch.
As we exited Forks, we encountered our first pile of moose droppings. A lot of droppings and rather fresh. We agreed that neither were concerned about encountering black bears on the trail, but grizzlies and moose were entirely different beasts. Both of us had bear spray for grizzlies but had nothing to defend ourselves against a stupid moose that might charge at us if we spooked it.
After Forks, the trail began to climb almost immediately, taking a bit of effort to get up the slope. In increased in difficultly, requiring us to pull ourselves up at times and to use stairs with a chain to get up. Just as we were reaching the stairs, we heard some noise in the trees and below us and saw a moose with her calf. Luckily, we were far enough away that we didn’t spook her.
We finally made it to Three Isle Lakes where there was sunshine and we sat on the shore where we filled our water bottles and rested. There was another climb out of Three Isle, but not as bad as the route to get there.
There was off and on rain throughout the remainder of the day. My knee started to ache on the descent out of Three Isle, which I had never experienced before and I took my first tumble just before we reached Beatty Lake around 6pm. The campground was empty and we enjoyed a nice meal and got our tent set up before the rain hit around 7pm. There were was a bear locker with four cupboards and an outhouse with a door that had been chewed up by some critters. We got the best spot campsite, #1, right at the shore of the lake. It was a great start to our trip. Now I just had to adjust to the idea of being in grizzly bear country, get used to the sounds of the forest, and try to get some sleep.
GDT C – Day 2 – Beatty Lake to Burstall
GDT C – Day 3 – Burstall to Big Springs
GDT C – Day 4 – Big Springs to Magog Lake
GDT C – Day 5 – Magog Lake to Porcupine
GDT C – Day 6 – Porcupine to Sunshine Village
GDT C – Day 7 – Banff (Zero Day)
GDT C – Day 8 – Banff (Floe Lake Trailhead) to Floe Lake
GDT C – Day 9 – Floe Lake to Tumbling Creek
GDT C – Day 10 – Tumbling Creek to McArthur Creek
GDT C – Day 11 – McArthur Creek to Ottertail Trailhead