As part of her learning about backcountry survival skills, Fiona wanted to plan a self-supported backpacking trip. Ten days later than we had originally hoped, having missed the glorious summery early September weather, we headed out. Fully laden, we wanted to avoid many of the wonderful heading-into-the-alpine trails in our area: e needed to be sure we could handle the ascents and descents while carrying our packs. We wanted to avoid running into groups of fellow hikers and campers as much as possible. So we settled on part of the Hamill Creek trail at the north end of Kootenay Lake, heading towards Earl Grey pass. The full traverse is 63 kilometres, and even if there weren’t a bridge washed out on the other end, that kind of distance was far beyond our physical and organizational capabilities. But a short in-and-out at the western end of the trail seemed like a good choice.
We hiked three days. Our longest day was 8 kilometres on foot. Fiona managed to carry all her personal items: sleeping bag, hammock, bubble pad (insulation in the hammock), her clothing, knife and toiletries. I carried my stuff and the joint items: emergency pack, water filter, stove, pots, dishes, food, tarp, rope, etc.
Although the weather was colder and wetter than we would have wished, we saw some fabulous terrain and had a very successful trip. Fiona now knows how to sling a bear cache, cook camp food on a portable stove, filter water, hang her hammock and pack it up at the end, keep things dry(-ish), load a backpack in a well-balanced sensible fashion, maintain hydration, dress for bed when it’s just above freezing, manage hygiene and elimination in the back-country and generally how to leave no trace.