This post was written in my sleeping bag at the end of a long day. Please excuse any errors.
We call border patrol in Waterton, to declare ourselves inside the country. He gives us all a little phone interview and then we are legally in Canada. We celebrate with poutine. And then it is time to go. Waterton is expensive, so Glimmer books us a cheap motel in Cardston and we hitch there, getting a ride instantly.
Except Cardston turns out to be a crappy little town in the middle of nowhere. The only thing open is the pizza place. We get pizza and watch Indianna Jones. In the morning, breakfast and then we say goodbye to Glimmer, who is hitching back to the states. Anywhere is better than Cardston, so Thatch, Wild Land and I all start hitching too, towards Calgary. Except there’s a reservation right outside of town and it turns out Southern Albertans are really racist. We get a million weird looks before an older man picks us up because “he could tell we weren’t Indians.” I’m horrified, but no one has stopped in over an hour. He drives us to his even more racist friend’s house and then on to Fort Lewis. This starts a chain of three other hitches, including a guy who stayed at our campsite in Glacier. Finally, we are in Calgary, where we train and bus to the airport to pick up a car. I feel dizzy and faint and realize all I’ve eaten since breakfast is Timbits. Guess my hiker hunger is gone. We stop for sandwich fixings. Can’t have a sandwich van without sandwiches! I make us all sandwiches as Wild Land drives us out of town. The praries give way to mountains, washed white in moonlight. A shooting star, big enough to be a fireball, whizzes overhead, orange and green. We find a place to pull over just by Kananaskas. The boys set up their tents, but there’s a perfect Fun Size spot in the back of the car where I set out my sleeping bag. I wake to towering granite peaks overhead. These mountains are spectacular. We go to Kananaskas lodge for coffee, then Wild Land drives us towards Canmore. Smoke obscures everything, the worst we’ve seen, but the peaks drifting in and out are massive. We drive straight past Banff, bored of mountain towns, but we do stop at Lake Louise. For about five minutes. Its pretty, but there’s a massive hotel, $100 an hour canoe rentals flooding the lake, and a horde of tourists. Seeing places that should be wilderness flooded with people like this is far more jarring for me than finding myself in a massive city 24 hours after getting off trail. Wild Land, who is playing tour guide, finds us another lake for lunch. This one is much quieter and just as pretty. We drive the Ice Fields parkway up to Jasper, stopping at all the spots we don’t have to walk far to get to. This is a day off, after all. We camp off a little dirt road. I sleep late- Wild Land wakes me up by bursting into the car singing happy birthday. Today is another day of driving- through Edmonton, where we get the whirlwind tour, then South through Calgary. Then, across the border, to drop Thatch off in the morning. The further south we get, the more the smoke rolls in. We hear on the radio that Waterton is being evacuated. We run into East Glacier in the morning. We get breakfast, and say goodbye to Thatch. Spindrift comes in, on his way to the border, and let’s us know that they are no longer issuing new permits for Glacier. It’s headache after headache for the hikers behind us. We roll off back to Calgary, drop of the car, and try to figure out a section of trail to hike that is not on fire.