Granny Gets High in Kakwa

by Margaret Gmoser – trail name Gnargret

In February our group of six committed to 10 days of hiking SOBO from Kakwa Lake to the Blueberry Lake exit of the GDT. For me the push was to do the route before I hit 80 – I’m 77. We had no luck finding a ride up the Walker forest road so I decided to hire Robson Heli Magic and save up my pension cheques.

By August 17 one of our members had cancelled due to Covid. The skies were blue and as if by magic our pilot Sofie deposited us by the cabins at Kakwa Lake. Three lucky hikers got a flight out to McBride. We had a warm reception from Donna and Dan, the custodians, and by lunch time we headed up the flagged trail to the Mt Ruth/Providence alpine. That evening we watched the sunset beside a beautiful tarn and we couldn’t believe our good fortune.

The next day we took a tree line route to Providence Pass and hiked the Surprise Pass Alternate. On the descent from the plateau we saw a caribou and calf and had a fabulous dip in one of the tarns. We camped on a gravel flat before the descent to join the trail to Surprise Pass the next day.

Joining GDT from Surprise Pass Alternate route

The following two days were on trail – sort of. This involved bogs slogs, route finding and willow whacking. We met three NOBO solo hikers who were eager for the end. The camping at the cowboy camps was fine. We appreciated the cleared trails on the south side of Big Shale Hill and the north side of Little Shale.

Because of our continuing good weather and our extra days cushion we opted to tackle the Loren Lake High Route. Soon we were scrambling around Adventist Peak and skipping over lots of boulders in order to make a high camp before a thunder storm rolled in.

The next morning had us up at 5 am in anticipation of wet bushwhacking along the Divide route to Loren Pass and the steep climb through rhododendron to the alpine basin which leads to Perseverance Ridge. We had our only rest afternoon camping in this beautiful place.

Left to Right: Helen Sovdat, Marg Saul, Jim Baker, Heather Ware. Photo by Marg Gmoser

We woke up at 5 am again expecting a long day on the ridge.  It took us 11 hours to travel 12 km up and down the ridge line. Some class 2 and 3 climbing was required and a comfort level with exposure. Near Perseverance Mountain we met Fly – a solo NOBO hiker. He had only three days of food left so we gave him things we could spare. We wondered how he’d manage on the long walk out the Walker road. We were relieved to camp by a tiny snow filled tarn at the end of the day.

Our last night was magical. We camped by one of the Holmes lakes which scored 11 out of 10 for a dip. One member went in three times.

August 26 was a 16 km push to Blueberry Lake and the steep trail down to the Holmes forest road where we had left a car.  The trail had all the standard Kakwa features – mud, bog, bugs, bush, devils club and the reward of blueberries and huckleberries.

Thanks to all the trail maintenance crews and to my wonderful travel mates – Marg Saul, Helen Sovdat, Heather Ware and Jim Baker.

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