Field BC to Saskatchewan Crossing – 100km

I’ve had two wonderful days in Golden with Dan and Tara. We stayed up late talking about hiking, geeking out on backpacking gear, and just having a good time. It’s great to connect with like-minded people, especially such nice, generous ones. Tara and Dan are doing a great job of helping hikers and making the Great Divide Trail more accessible. I feel well rested, well fed, and ready to hit the trail. Here’s their sweet dog, Sitka…

I’ve decided to try writing every night during this section, since I’m doing nice short days and I have lots of time.

June 27 – Through the Car Wash

The Amiskwi and Howse Pass sections of the GDT have a reputation as being some of the most overgrown, worst hiking on the entire trail.

Despite the potential for bushwalking hell, I’m pretty excited for the change of scenery. No more snowshoeing! I can handle some bushes.

Well, it hasn’t been a terrible day by any means but the scenery has mostly consisted of bushes right in front of my face. It’s been raining lightly and all the leaves are loaded with water. I got too hot wearing my rain gear, so I gave up and just got soaked. Somehow, I actually enjoy it.

Finally, I popped out of the overgrown road and got to see all the mountains around me. It’s really quite beautiful and it already feels remote and wild.

After not even five hours of walking, I decided I’ve gone far enough and set up camp. Only moments later, the skies opened up and thunder began to boom all around me. Great timing!

June 28 – Amiskwi Pass

I got another good soaking by the wet bushes this morning but this time there were also great views.

These are the kinds of mountains I dream about – remote and hidden.

The old logging road I’m following crosses the Amiskwi River three times. I always worry a bit about river crossings and, even though it looks easy, this turned out to be a challenging river. It was above my waist and swift. But I didn’t fall in!

Amiskwi Pass felt like a whole different world from the car wash bushes below. The sun came out, so I spread my tent over some bushes to dry and took a nice little nap.

The other side of Amiskwi Pass doesn’t feel so remote and magical. I followed a modern logging road but the views were still spectacular.

I decided to camp along a disused road, once again tucked in under a tree.

June 29 – David Thompson Heritage Trail

I slept in, knowing I wasn’t planning on walking far. The weather was grey and foggy.

This part of the GDT used to be some of the worst trail, overgrown and strewn with fallen trees. Thanks to the hard work of GDT volunteers, it’s now a lovely walk.

I enjoyed the pretty views along the Blaeberry River.

Without any deep snow, hard climbs, or bushwacking, I found myself at camp before I knew it.

With so much time to spare, I went for a swim in the river (it’s still freezing cold) and made a camp fire. Just a very nice day.

June 30 – Howse Pass

I keep seeing these cute little frogs on the trail. This one finally stayed still long enough for me to get a good photo.

I really enjoyed the walk to Howse Pass. Along with Athabasca Pass, this is one of the most historically significant hikes you can do in the Rockies. It was discovered by the great explorer David Thompson (Canada’s Louis and Clark) in 1807, making it possible to transport furs from the east to the west. Fur trading was big business in the 1800s. Basically, Howse Pass was the 1800s equivalent of the TransCanada highway.

Even more than Howse Pass, I loved the walk along Howse River. The views from the open flood plain are truly grand. And absolutely no one comes out here.

I couldn’t think of a better place to watch the sunset.

July 1 – All You Can Eat

Some GDT thru-hikers, in their eagerness to get to the buffet at Saskatchewan Crossing, mistakenly take the shorter horse trail rather than the longer hiking trail. The problem is that to cross the river on the horse trail, well, you need to be a horse. Or crazy and fearless, which I’m not.

Much like Natural Bridge at the beginning of this section, I reached the road and heaps of tourists at Mistaya Canyon. Ironic bookends to one of the most remote hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

Even without taking the horse trail, I still made it to Saskatchewan Crossing in time for the buffet. And that’s a perfect conclusion to another fantastic section on the Great Divide Trail.

Next Post: Christmas in July (Saskatchewan Crossing to Maligne Lake)

8 thoughts on “GDT – Through the Car Wash

  1. 8 July Hi Justin, Thank you for the fine photos of your hiking that part of the GDT. I will make a comment of one photo that caught my eye and that is the one of the frog you took. I looked at it very closely. That frog could well be the “Northern Leopard Frog” which is very very rare and if it can be confirmed You saw a gem. Those frogs normally are found rarely on the prairies. Have it checked out and show the photo to one of the employees of Parks Canada. Perhaps talk and show the photo to a biologist and confirm it. They will be interested in it. Let me know the result.

    cheers, Michael

    1. That’s no leopard frog, in fact it’s not a frog at all! It’s a toad, probably a western toad but I’m not positive.

    1. Thanks Dan. The Howse floodplain is one of my favorite parts of the GDT so far. Amazing views, just like you said. I was actually thinking Howse River might make a good intro pack rafting trip for me.

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