So far, 2023 has been a far cry from last year. While the winter of 2021-2022 came in with a well above average snow pack and a long cool spring. 2022-2023 has been nearly the opposite. Low mountain snow levels combined with record temperatures in May have put us about a month ahead of schedule when it comes to the winter melt. Trails that would normally remain snow bound until July are free and clear in June. I’m definitely itching to get out and this summer’s plans are looking to be pretty exciting. With upgrades to the National Park reservation system delaying bookings until March, folks had some extra time to plan their summer adventures this year. I was no exception and was able to lock in some great itineraries.
Starting the backpacking season will be a trip for the Great Divide Trail Association where we’ll be setting up some trail cameras in the White Goat Wilderness. The wilderness is a remote area just east of the junction between Banff and Jasper National Parks, the only traffic allowed in the this protected area is by foot (no bikes, no horses). For future planning of trail maintenance, the GDTA needs usage data for this section. While I’m out that way, I thought I’d check out the high point of the GDT and explore Michelle and Pinto Lakes. By all accounts this area is supposed to be spectacular with folks comparing it to the Rockwall trail I did last fall. That will be coming up soon at the beginning of July.
Following a few weeks later, I’ll be taking a few folks from work up to Three Isle Lake for two nights. It will be a mix of people completely new to backpacking and those with experience. I can’t wait to introduce a few colleagues to the wonderful world of the backcountry..
The end of July will have me starting at Mount Shark and pick up the section of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park I missed last summer. Just like my plans from last year, I’ll hike up the popular Bryant Creek corridor which leads to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. I’m really looking forward to the incredible views from Wonder Pass and the core areas of Mt Assiniboine. Back into Banff I’ll return to the area around Egypt Lake that I really enjoyed last summer. I managed to get some better permits this year so it should make for an enjoyable trip over Ball Pass and head down to highway 93.
Since I had so much fun in the area around Skoki Lodge and the valleys and passes behind the Lake Louise Ski Resort last summer, I’ll be back for another 3 nights mid August.
Wrapping up August are my plans to complete Section A of the GDT. I’ll start in Waterton Lakes National Park and head back up Blakeston Creek, past Twin Lakes and to Sage Pass into BC. From there, it will be over the rugged peak of La Coulette and down into the Castle. They’ll be a maze of deactivated logging roads and seismic lines to navigate on my way to Coleman, and hopefully some nachos at the Castle Mountain Ski Resort.
Last (but not least), and assuming the weather holds, I managed to pick up some permits in Glacier National Park (the one in Montana) for mid September. Starting in Many Glacier, I’ll head through the Ptarmigan tunnel and down to the Elizabeth and Glenns Lakes. From there it will be along the high line trail and out via the Granite Park Chalet. I’ve been trying to explore this area for some time and looking forward to it
Overall it’s a packed schedule and will be a combination of going back to places I’ve been before, while seeing others for the first time. Looking forward to it
Canada & US
Our Backpacking Trail Reports are mainly from Western Canada and the United States.
Our 2020 & 2021 backpacking hiking on the Great Divide Trail. View our planning and trail reports for sections A-G.