View Full Version : Great Divide Trail

10-20-2004, 10:21
I've got my slides scanned and pictures from the GDT are coming. I uploaded a batch this morning and will dump a few more on over the next few days. A webpage is being worked on, with journals, resupply info, more pics, and some commentary. I'll post a link when it is up.

Spirit Walker
10-20-2004, 12:29
Thanks Chris. That's one we plan to do in the next few years. I look forward to seeing your pictures and journal. I've seen some slideshows that got me interested, and then spending some time at the Parks there in 2003 really got me excited about doing the whole thing. My only issue is the permit system. How did you deal with that? Did you get all your permits and reservations before you left or did you just hitch to HQ and attempt to get a permit on the spot at each of the Parks as you entered them? Robson's easy, but I was told the trail into Jasper (Highline?) was booked for the next two months when we tried to get a permit to hike it.

10-20-2004, 15:27
The permit system is a huge pain, and you get nothing out of following the rules. Most trails are barely maintained, rarely blazed, and in truly awful condition. There are also very few rangers out. However, I digress.

To be legal in the National Parks (~50% of the trail), you need to pay an entry fee. No problem. Just buy an annual Rocky mountains park pass, good for all the parks, and costing around $40 CA. To spend a night in the backcountry, you need to do so only at established campsites OR random camp in approved areas. The problem is, no one at Parks Canada would tell me where these areas are. I used Lynx's book and he indicates some.
To stay in an established campsite, you need to pay some amount of money. Or, buy an annual Wilderness Pass for another roughly $50 CA. This covers the cost of all the campsites. However, you cannot stay at a campsite without a reservation in advance. Reservations cost something like $3 a night per person. However, if you make the reservation less than 24 hours in advance, it is free. Again, Parks Canada didn't tell me this. I had to ask Lynx.

Ok, so to be legal, buy the two passes. Before hand, make three or four reservations in Banff. You can do this from Calgary, where there is a big office. You would most likely access the GDT from there anyways. When you get to Waterton, make whatever reservations you want for the two or three days you'll be in the park. Once you leave the park, you'll have a few hundred miles before you reach Banff.

In Banff, don't worry about keeping to your schedule. The wardens will understand. When you get to Field (first town after), there is another Parks Canada office where you can make reservations for up to Jasper. In Jasper, there is another office.

I planned to do this, but in Field decided I didn't want to bother. No one was out hiking, there were no wardens, and I had already given Parks Canada plenty of money for no services. You won't see too many hikers between Field and Jasper (town), at least until you hit the Skyline trail, which is the most popular (and Oh-my-God-Gorgeous) trail in the park. I camped at the site before it (yes, without a reservation) and was the only one there. It is 6 K before the start of the Skyline. Get on and traverse the entire Skyline (easy, easy, easy hiking at this point) to the unofficial end of it at Signal Mountain (campsite next to fireroad). Few people stay there as it is only 11 K from the parking lot. Tekkara, the next camp in, is quite nice and very popular. The total distance is something like 45 K, which is like 27ish miles. And the miles are uber easy. Remember that it is bright out from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm in the summer time up there.

If I were to do it again, I'd buy the wilderness pass and the annual entry pass and not even bother with reservations (I only made the original 3). Parks Canada are a bunch of wankers who seem to believe that an ankle ford of a river is impassable and that most people should stay in the front country. I honestly believe that if all backcountry trails were closed, Parks Canada would throw a big party. Pay all the money (the easy part) and fall on the sympathy of a warden (using the fact that you are not holding back any money) if caught camping illegally. Traverse the entire Skyline, or plan to camp carefully otherwise. Ignore Parks Canada's recommendations for just about anything.

steve hiker
10-20-2004, 15:47
So tell us Chris, did you see Mr. Grizz?

10-21-2004, 19:06
Another 10 pics are posted, taking my up to near the southern boundary of Banff.

10-22-2004, 10:57
Where are you posting these? I assume you have a new site and are not updating your old IU site, correct?

10-22-2004, 13:39
Sorry, I should have mentioned that I am posting some of them here at whiteblaze in the gallery. I have to move websites, so I'm not putting them on the IU page. When the new site is up, I'll post a link.

I did have a grizz encounter. At about 15 feet. No pictures, as snapping a photo was not high on my list of priorities at the time.