Dan Durston entertained a sellout crowd at Trolley 5 Brewpub in Calgary on the last day of winter, a fitting date as we start to get excited about hiking and camping this summer! Durston and his wife, T, hiked both directions of the Great Divide Trail, affectionately known as a “yoyo”, in 2017 because as Dan put it “1,100km did not seem to be a long enough hike!”
They started the adventure on June 1, leaving Waterton with most of the route ahead still covered in snow. Each was wearing a pair of children’s snowshoes (why children’s size you’re wondering?… well because of course, they weigh less than adult snowshoes). It wasn’t until they got to Coleman did they feel spring in the air, and even then winter would return for substantial portions of the high elevation route along the divide. After the snow ended, they continued to trek throughout the summer and into fall – finishing the GDT on November 1 after threats from forest fires had subsided.
I’m not going to recall all of the stories, because who knows, maybe Dan will give the presentation again in the future (we should be so lucky!). Dan did share a few of his videos with us at the event and if you were unable to attend the event or want to see more of their trip, click here.
The one piece of advice that stayed with me was their routine of stopping for a coffee at 3pm every day, regardless of where they were – in a meadow, by a creek, or being visited by a bear. Even brewing coffee in a ditch on the side of the road because on a thru-hike “unusual things like this become normal”.
Here are a few key facts of their trip:
Sheep – 71 individuals, 6 groups
Deer – Lots
Porcupine – 9 individuals, 8 groups
Goats – 7 individuals, 3 groups
Grizzlies – 7 individuals, 4 groups
Moose – 6 individuals, 5 groups
Caribou – 5 individuals, 1 group
Elk – 2 individuals, 1 group
Black bear – 2
Wolverine – 1
Fisher – 1
Marten – 1
Wolf – 1
Coyote – 1
FAVOURITE PART: Section G (Mt. Robson to Kakwa)
CLOSEST GRIZZLY: 20 yards
LONGEST PERIOD WITHOUT SEEING ANYONE: 6 days
DISTANCE SNOWSHOED: 160 km
Finally a quick shout out to the volunteers who organized the evening – Vikki McGuire and Rob MacLaine and the MC of the evening, Dave Hockey. Dave not only introduced Dan Durston who he met while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (it is a small world!) but also introduced others in attendance – Dustin Lynx, author of the GDT Guidebook (Hiking Canada’s Great Divide Trail) and River Taig, creator of the GPS App available through Guthook Guides.
Thank you again Dan for a great event! Everyone left with a spring in their step, just itching to get on the trail. And thank you everyone for your continued support!