The Great Divide Trail is a 750 mile/1200 km trail of high mountain ridges and brush-choked valleys in the Canadian Rockies along the Alberta/British Columbia border.. While the Hayduke is said to be the most beautiful desert trail, the Great Divide Trail is said to be the most beautiful mountain trail! (I imagine that this is true, in a sense that there are several “most beautiful” mountain trails.) Only a few dozen people have thru-hiked the GDT, and thanks to the noble recent efforts of the Great Divide Trail Association (Canada does not have the money for trails that the US does, plz donate), the trail is in much better shape than it once was, although there is still plenty of soggy bushwhacking for that extra-super Canadian Rockies experience. (A really cool interactive map of the GDT is on the GDTA website here.)
Steep mountain ridges! Glaciers! Wet, alder-choked valleys! Peaceful transcendental wilderness! Blowdowns! Tempestuous river crossings! Freezing rain! The shy and secretive Grizzly Bear! Gentle rural Canadians! I look forward to all of these things and more on the GDT. I gave myself only two weeks to prepare for this trip, which feels bonkers. Currently I’m in Oregon, where a heavy heat wave is cooking my brain. (Update: heat wave has passed, raining now.) I’ve been visiting with dear friends, making resupply boxes, eating vegetables, shopping for rainpants, texting with Dan about maps, wishing in vain that the brooks Cascadia 7s and 8s were still in production, reading Gone With The Wind, going to the dentist and having lots of mechanical trouble with my van which is also, it turns out, kind of miserable to sleep in in the heat. And I haven’t been running at all, in an attempt to heal my knee from the damage I did to it on the R2R2R. As a result, I’ve pretty much lost all the strength I gained on the Hayduke. So there will be some extra pain at the beginning of the GDT. Yay! Also! We have to finish the GDT in 40 days, in order to make it back to Oregon in time for a friend’s wedding. That’s not unheard of at all, but I’d rather there wasn’t the pressure, as I want to take a lot of pretty photos.
Dan flies into Portland on June 12th. We drive to Montana on the 14th and start the GDT shortly after. We’re starting a bit earlier than most, again because of me needing to finish in time for the wedding- but it’s a low snow year up there so we’ll probably be alright. I think?
Thanks in advance to Wired, whose blog, as on the Hayduke, will be our most comprehensive source of beta for this trail (other than our maps). Seriously you guys, Wired’s Hayduke blog was more useful than the guidebook. The amount of detailed, accurate beta that Wired puts into her blogs for each trail is insane. I kind of worry that she’s shortening her lifespan by staying up late in her tent every night pecking away at her phone, while the rest of us sleep. If you find her beta useful donate to her blog, so she can buy a lasagna mountain house!
The GDT is extra, extra remote, so some extra time might pass between blog posts here. I still don’t really understand how I’m going to get a Canadian phone plan for all of that? Really looking forward to getting to Montana, and then into Canadia. O, the Great North!
Moar updates soon.