Tuesday, 23 September 2014

First day of hiking

1 September: Skyline day 1.  Maligne Canyon - Curator

I'm the first to get up in the fully booked wilderness hostel, with the alarm clock ringing at 6:30.  The hostel consists of a number of small different buildings.  A seperate one for the kitchen, two for sleeping, and two outhouses.  I cook and eat my breakfast in the main building.  The old MCR 221 Jasper National Park map is on the wall.  It's out of print and too large for a custom print at Everywhere Maps&Globes, so I didn't acquire it.  I only have the Banff one, MCR 220.

It's 8:00 when I head off on my hike.  After a kilometre or so I reach the Skyline trailhead.  The northern 8 km or so is a dull fireroad.  According to the opiniated guidebook "Don't waste your time in the Canadian rockies", one "must be crazy" to start on this end.  As I'm hiking up the fire road with my heavy backpack, I meet numerous other hikers, apparently coming down from the Signal campground just on top.  Many are Chinese.  One Chinese lady has an Arcteryx coat, and on top of that a transparent plastic raincoat.  Because, imagine if the beautiful Arcterix raingear gets wet!

View north from Signal Campground to the Athabasca Valley
 From Signal Mountain the trail branches off the fire road and soon reaches above the treeline.  Views are nice.

Trail to Tekarra Campground
 After the Tekarra Campground the trail heads up above the treeline again.  The campgrounds are all located in the forest.

Tekarra Mountain
 After Tekarra Campground, the trail heads up and passes over a ridge for several kilometres, before reaching The Notch.  Before I head up I take a break at a small creek.  As I take off my backpack, I notice that my raincover is gone.  I only brought my small raincover, because I couldn't find my large one.  The wind must have blown it off.

Near The Notch

 My destination for today lies over The Notch.  The Curator Campground.  Two other people are heading there from the same trailhead today, so during the day I often pass by them, and then they pass by me again, etc.  I also meet dozens of other hikers along the trail.  Camping is strictly on campgrounds only, and to get a spot on a campground requires early reservations.  I made my reservation three months before and got a spot — all campgrounds along the trail are fully booked.

Curator Lake

Camping at Curator Campground.  First night camping in The Rockies and first night in my Hilleberg Akto.
After a steep descend from The Notch I reach the Curator Campground.  I'm almost the last to arrive, but there is still a quite nice spot available, relatively secluded.  The campground has seven sites and there are around 15 people in total.  It has a small pit toilet, two picknick tables, and a system for hanging  food safe from bears.  That is going to be the pattern for the next week — although I will have company in the night for only one more night.  Fortunately.

Hanging food

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