Hiking in Canada during the summer of 2018 was my first time hiking, travelling, camping, etc. and as such, I made a lot of mistakes in general. Hopefully you can learn from my idiocy.
Waiting until Black Friday to buy equipment
As I had a general plan to do the Great Divide Trail, with backup plans for photography, I knew I wanted to buy a lot of equipment. A tent, backpack, sleeping pad and clothes will set you back a fair amount of money. I waited until Black Friday to buy camping/hiking equipment and this made me overly stressed as I tried to buy too much in a short period of time. Most items were returned due to bad fitting and by the time I knew what I wanted, the best sales were over. In my opinion, you should look for items as soon as you can and find deals as they come up rather than wait for one specific day. Perhaps telling you how to shop is a bit silly, but if you’re like me, I urge you not to buy everything in one day–unless you just happen to get lucky and everything fits okay.
Permits are a real pain in the butt
Due to the nature of the Great Divide Trail, I had to book several places, and guesstimate when I would arrive at those places. I waited too long to book camping permits/reservations. Some are open early in the year (January 1st), some are available March 1st. I started booking them around March 16th, and by that time, some were already full up. I navigated around this problem by booking camping sites in other areas not too far from the trail. If you’re simply doing day hikes, you won’t be under as much stress. If you’re thinking about doing the Great Divide Trail, you probably know about the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a lot more expensive and a lot more complicated than the Pacific Crest Trail, per mile.
I planned to go straight through the campgrounds, hike to the border and back. As a means to cut down travel time, I was somewhat afraid to spend extra time in Waterton until I arrived, as I didn’t know what to expect. It’s an incredibly beautiful place. There’s plenty of shops to buy extra food if you go through it, the campgrounds are stunning and I suggest spending an extra day or ten there, haha :).
Food supplies in banff
This one was a funny one… I stayed in a hostel in Banff, and I made the stupid mistake of buying a pizza at boston pizza. It was overpriced, in my opinion, and you’d need about three of them for a full day’s worth of hiking (they’re about $30 each). The steak at the local grocery shop is really good, it’s well priced (compared to most things in Banff) and you can make a decent meal for about $15. I learned this on the second day there. It was a silly rookie error. The international hostel has plenty of room to cook and whatnot :).
Public Transport in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The public transport is really good and really cheap. I was confused when the woman explained it to me at the airport because it seemed to good to be true. You buy a ticket–with cash or card–for $3.00. Within 90 minutes at the point of buying the ticket, you can travel anywhere on a train or a bus. You do not need to buy two tickets if you want to switch from a bus to a train either. It’s simply $3.00 for 90 minutes of travelling. This will take you from the airport to downtown Calgary for example.
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