Section F: Day 1
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
KM hiked: 22
Territory: Territory: Ktunaxa ?amak?is, Stoney, Tsuu T'ina, Secwépemc, Kelly Lake Metis, Aseniwuche Winewak, Ktunaxa
After the mind-bending beauty of Section E, and the welcome camaraderie of my rest days in Jasper, section F feels lonely and lackluster. I opted for more time in Jasper rather than doing the Elysium pass alternate route, which I heard was a bit more of a doozy than I was up for. The first day takes me along a railroad track, and up a viewless, and extremely muddy path through birch and dying pine trees on a steady incline.
Everything feels unremarkable, and I just can't muster the energy. The mosquitos are awful, breeding in all this mud and standing water from a summer of rain. I can’t stop moving or I will be swarmed, so I squish on. I stay plugged into my headphones all day, trudging along, slipping in the mud every few steps. I think of all the hikers who opted to finish their hike at Jasper, and I wonder if I ought to have done the same. Why am I still here if my heart isn’t in it? I feel guilty and conflicted.
I started late, and as the day turns blue with dusk, I am still in the thick of the muddy forest with nowhere to pitch my tent. I eventually make it to a river where there is a flat spot to pitch a tent right on its banks that is miraculously not a bog - everything else is. The wet grass there is pressed down with the impression of a tent footprint, some other GDT hiker spent the night here not long ago. The cold comes fast, and the mosquitos are furious as I am pitching my camp. I am so fast at pitching now, it takes me very little time to set up my camp, and eat a frantic dinner while pacing back and forth and swatting mosquitoes, stow my food away safely in its bear bag away from camp, and dive into my tent. I fall asleep listening to the swollen creek rush by feet from my head and hope that I am not just pressing on out of a sense of duty, and that the magic of the GDT will come back to me.