Trip Report: GDT Section C August 2021 Summary

It has been a month now since I returned from my planned hike through section C, if you have been watching this space for updates. The hike was awesome and only gets more awesome in the rear-view mirror. I think I needed a month to digest the experience before writing this post.

Cheryl absolutely killing it on the scree coming down South Kananaskis Pass

First, I am thrilled I got to experience this with my wife, and astonished that this was her first overnight hike since I dragged her up Mount Golden Ears while we were dating. Yes, it took her 23 years to forgive me for that travesty. All I can say in justification was, I was a stupid 22 year old. I hope I am a better man today than I was then. Thankfully this trip went so much better than that one. It was a challenge for her to complete – thankfully, the preparation I had done meant that had anything gone wrong I would have had tons of reserve to get us out of the situation. But nothing did, and though there were occasional tears, they were only tears of fighting through her own limitations, not frustration with me.

We set a fairly easy pace, which turned out to still be faster than many we met in the backcountry. I also adjusted the itinerary on the fly, both to ensure we didn’t burn out, and to deal with terrain challenges I could not have foreseen in the planning stage. I think I will post this trip report in two-day pairs, to break down everything for posterity, in case others who want to tackle this section want more detail. Certainly, we scoured the internet before we left so we could prepare. Hope this helps.

Our original plan:

  • Day 1: Upper Kananaskis Lakes (Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, AB) over South Kananaskis Pass to Beatty Lake (Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, BC) – 16km, 780m ascent
  • Day 2: Beatty Lake to Palliser Pass Camp (Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, BC) – 10km, 780m descent, 480m ascent
  • Day 3: Palliser Pass (HOTR) over Palliser Pass to Birdwood Camp (Banff National Park, AB) – 11km, 100m ascent, 150m descent
  • Day 4: Birdwood to Marvel Lake Camp (Banff) – 14km, 50m descent, 50m ascent
  • Day 5: Marvel Lake over Wonder Pass to Porcupine Camp (Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC) – 25km, 600m ascent, 600m descent
  • Day 6: Porcupine over Citadel Pass to Resupply Pickup at Sunshine Village Parking Lot (Banff NP) – 20km, 750m ascent, 750m descent (Sleep in a bed in Banff!)
  • Day 7: Sunshine Village Parking over Healy Pass and Whistling Pass to Ball Pass Campground – 28km, 600m ascent, 750m descent
  • Day 8: Ball Pass Camp over Ball Pass to Floe Lake Trailhead (Kootenay NP, BC), then to Floe Lake Camp – 20km, 1060m ascent, 900m descent
  • Day 9: Floe Lake over Numa Pass and Tumbling Pass to Wolverine Camp (outside Kootenay NP boundary) – 22km, 1070m ascent, 950m descent
  • Day 10: Wolverine over Rockwall Pass and Goodsir Pass to McArthur Creek Camp (Yoho NP) – 20km, 1300m descent, 450m ascent
  • Day 11: McArthur to Car at Ottertail Trailhead – 16km, 200m descent
Our hero in the middle, before we set off

You will have to read about how it actually played out in subsequent posts! But I am going to end this post by saying, the above itinerary would have been IMPOSSIBLE if it had not been for a wonderful trail angel named Tanya who went above and beyond in getting us from our endpoint to our startpoint after leaving our car behind, then picking us up at Sunshine Village and dropping us at a hotel, THEN incredibly, agreeing to pick us up again at the hotel to take us to the trailhead to start our second half! We are forever in her debt, to do all this for two complete strangers. If we had any more kids we’d surely name one of them after her: she’s earned it!

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