**Note: For many of you, this may be your first time reading one of my trail journals. I usually do more background and prep posts about trails before the hike, but I ran out of time for the Great Divide Trail given all the other hikes I’ve been doing this season. There are a few pre hike posts you’ll find on my GDT tab. After the hike I will be doing my regular detailed posts with tips and advice for those planning for a GDT hike. For now, I will do my best to drop nuggets of info along the way as they come up. I can say that the GDTA website is a great resource! Also, I want to give a shout out to Zdenek Sychrava who hiked the GDT last year and has a wonderfully informative blog. Note that his GDT blog starts in week 6 on his journal since he did some of the Pacific Northwest Trail beforehand. He was very helpful and involved in our planning, so THANK YOU Zdenek!
Oh it was glorious to wake up in a warm dry bed this morning while it was foggy, cold, and raining outside. We were in Babb, MT and just over an hour from the Canadian border. For those of you that missed it, E and myself just did a five day shakedown hike along the CDT to get to know each other and our routines. We met briefly on the CDT in 2013 and never hiked together. Today, we had a full day planned, which included some hiking, so we decided to wait out the rain a bit longer and left town around 10am. The border crossing went amazingly smooth. Just a few generic questions and we were through. They didn’t even notice all the resupply boxes we had piled up in the car to be sent out tomorrow. We were prepared for that to slow things up, but it didn’t. For those wondering, bear spray is legal to bring into Canada. The main thing we needed to be aware of was not to bring in any seeded fruits.
Soon after the border, we reached the entrance gate to Waterton Lakes National Park and were able to buy our Canada Annual Parks Pass. We will be passing through so many parks on this hike that it is worth it to get the Annual Pass. We are both familiar with Waterton, since it is the Northern Terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. We had lunch and headed out to hike the 4mi/6km each way to the border and back to Waterton. Both of us have already done this stretch when we did the CDT, but we still wanted to tag the border and back and it was a total of 8mi/12km we needed to get out of the way to set us up for unpermitted camping this leg. It was my first slack pack (hiking without all your gear/supplies)! I never imagined slack packing, but this is the perfect situation. Never say never I guess.
There are some high use trails around there and we saw plenty of people. Right when we started our stretch to head south to the border, we were on a half mile connector trail between two well traveled trails and it was immediately covered in brush, ha! This is so indicative of what we will be doing on the Great Divide Trail. We will go through some great clear trails that are highly used and then there will be some others that are hardly used and very overgrown. With all the rain and it still misting a bit, our pants got absolutely soaked immediately. It was pretty amusing knowing that we have such stark contrasts ahead and it was evident right from the start.
|A great indicator of what’s to come…
|Our first GDTers Laura & John
|Offical start of the GDT at the Canada/US border. Notice the border swath up the mountain behind the monument.
|Our thru hiking deer…
OH! One more thing…I have a tracker map so you can follow along and see where I’ll be. It is on my “Where’s Wired” tab. I’ve included it here for easy viewing. Notice the cool elevation chart too! I am kicking myself that I forgot to press the tracking button on my DeLorme InReach at the border, but you can zoom in on the map and see where it starts if you like. There is a satellite feature that looks even cooler if you select that in the drop down box on the right. The full KML file for the GDT can be downloaded if you’d like tracks for a GPS. Just go here on the GDTA website. Such a cool map to see each section, resupplies, side trails, campsites, etc. If you have trouble finding the KML file to download, you need to first go into the full screen version of the map and then click the share icon and it will give you the option to download the tracks. Here’s the cool map to follow along with my journey!