This is the big day. Up at 6am to pack down camp and begin our journey down… way down.
Our goal is to descend to the Hoge Creek bottom below, a kilometre down hill. There’s no clear way to getting down.
As we contemplate our options, a group of 4 hikers pass by, the only other hikers we’ve seen since we’ve been in the park. We walk across the way to say hi, and Carl and Adam decide to hike with them for a ways and scout the descent. Some info from our new friends confirm our plans, and after the guys return from their walkabout, we get a move on.
One ridge leads to another, each getting progressively narrower, until there is no ridge left. Now, it’s scree time.
Neither Carl or I have actually walked down a major scree slope before, a steep incline of loose rock debris. And of course that means that we have not done so with really heavy packs either. And man, does this look steep!
For videographer Adam though, who was raised playing in the mountains around Canmore, Alberta all his life, this is familiar ground. He even likes to mountain bike down this stuff! After a quick lesson in good foot form, Adam shows us how its done, and we follow suit. Sometimes sliding, sometimes on our butt, Carl and I slowly make our way down until we hit the green at the bottom. We repeat the process a couple more times down this mountain, traversing a green lumpy meadow, dropping down more scree, traversing yet more scree, and then down some rocky slopes until, with a bit of bush whacking added into the mix, we all emerge at the bottom of the valley in one piece. In all, it took 2 hours. We find fresh water trickling by, and boil up some soup and give our exhausted legs and feet a break. One more new experience to cross off my list on this trip.
With lunch over, we now follow the creek bed downhill until it joins the Hoge. While not much of an incline, hiking through this field of boulders is stressing our the old ankles. Hours pass, with about half a dozen smaller water crossings, and after connecting with the Hoge, we finally catch a glimpse on the mighty Donjek River itself several kilometres away. Descriptions of game trail leads to an an old horse trail cause us to veer into the forest across the Hoge and drop our packs. Somewhere in this tangled forest these mini game side roads should lead us to a hopefully clearer way. There is a GPS co-ordinate of an old horse camp listed in the description, but it doesn’t do us much good as my GPS is lying somewhere in moss way back at the beginning of our hike. Sadly, I took it out to check something, and my overstuffed pack must have rejected it as I was trying to cram it back in.
We scout around until we pick up what seems like a likely trail, and begin to follow it. Though not certain of our choice, it is leading us between the mountain and the river a generally correct direction, and the heavy forest cover is giving us some much needed shade from the hours that we have been spending in the heat of the sun.
We soldier on for a few more hours, squeezing our way between trees, trying to avoid soakers through many varieties of bog, until, in fact, the path seems to solidify into something of a nice trail. For sections at a time anyway.
Evening comes upon us as it usually does, without any regard to our schedule. So, while deep in the bush still, we find ourselves a patch of moss to pitch our tent. You’d be surprised at just how difficult it is, with all this land around us, to actually find a small patch of relatively flat ground to do this in!
Nothing too dry here either. I lay a Siltarp down on top of our ground sheet in hopes that will help keep us dry for the night, and as our knee sink into the soft ground, we crawl in tired, not really too worried about what happens, as long as we can all sleep for a while.