To kick off my return to blogging I thought I would share a super embarrassing hiking story that occurred this summer.
Can I start off by saying that it’s a good idea to triple check the distances of your hikes before you start to ensure you have enough food, water, and energy to complete that hike? You see…… I am well known among my friends and family for fudging how long a hike is. I tricked Leilani into a 10 mile hike telling her it was 5. I have told people a hike is ‘about 6 miles’ when it was 15. And back in July I could have sworn the hike to Goat Haunt in Waterton was 6 miles each way, so 12 miles total. But I was wrong.
We originally went up to do Rowe Meadow because the Parks Canada website said the hikes on the Cameron Lake Road were open. But when we pulled in the road was blocked off, you see the hikes were open but the roads to get to the trail heads were not.
At this point I was 10 weeks pregnant and fighting major nausea. I wanted to hike and spend time with my friends so I went and dealt with the sickness. We went to the visitor’s centre to figure out what was open and I saw that Goat Haunt was open. I told the ladies that it was my favourite easy yet longer hike in the Park and was about 12 miles total. In my defense, the Parks worker was standing right there and didn’t correct me, she either didn’t know the distance or thought it was funny I was so off.
We set off! It was a gorgeous day for it and there was no one the trail once we forked off toward Bertha Bay. I was annoyed at having to trail behind the group but even at 10 weeks I found myself getting winded easier and feeling slow. The lack of food probably didn’t help much. I lived off cereal and fruit during that first trimester and basically starved.
Anyway, we had so much fun! We stopped at the beaches along the trail, took a hilarious video of me getting peed on by a toad, and enjoyed the 49th parallel cutline when we passed the border.
When we got to the border there was a sign saying we had to check in through an app but I told the girls we could just check in at the Goat Haunt station with our passports. As we got into Montana the beargrass blossomed and was EVERYWHERE! I couldn’t believe how covered the trail was by the beautiful alpine flower.
The trails were also overrun. There was a fallen tree across the trail at one point that took some careful maneuvering to get over. I was surprised that a trail crew hadn’t been through and cleared it by July!
Soon, we started to tire and my GPS said that we had gone 8 miles. I was confused because I was so sure that we would have hit Goat Haunt by mile 6. We paused as we decided what to do and I suggested we finish the hike and hitch a ride on the Waterton Shoreline Cruise back like Ben and I did all those years ago when we did Goat Haunt.
Everyone agreed that was a good plan and we hiked along, across the gorgeous suspension bridge, and through the woods until we came out at the Goat Haunt station. There was no one there which I found strange. We went to check in and get our passports stamped but a sign said the station was closed. We thought maybe that was for the holiday as the next day was July 4th.
We had just missed the cruise boat, it was pulling away as we came into view of the bay so we decided to wait at the boat launch. A friend actually had service and called the company to ask when the next ship was coming and if they would take us back. That was when we were told that Goat Haunt was actually closed and the ships were only allowed to turn around there, they couldn’t drop off or pick up anybody. Whoops!!!!
I thought it was funny. Here we were 10 miles in and now we had to do the 10 miles back whether we liked it or not. I was absolutely exhausted but I could tell my companions were pissed so I stayed bright and cheerful about it. Jenna said she would rather steal a canoe or kayak and paddle back up the lake and as tired as I was, it sounded like a good plan. We started to look around the buildings for a canoe or kayak and yes, we were serious about stealing it to get back.
We couldn’t find anything and Jenna led us into a tool shed where everything was stamped ‘Property of the U.S. Government’. This is where we found a large wooden boat also stamped. Jenna was dead serious about taking the boat and she began looking around for oars. I put my foot down. I was not about to take anything that was the property of the U.S. Government! I even told her “I’m not stealing Trump’s boat!” She said we could leave a note so they would know where to retrieve it, but I was still super uneasy about it. Luckily for America, the oars were nowhere to be found and Jenna had to give up her plan.
We headed back along the trail to do the 10 miles back. I felt bad about my mistake, but I also found it funny because I swear I’m cursed on the trail. I always have at least one little misadventure. What wasn’t funny was how tired I was. The girls were anxious to get back and going at a good pace and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it if I walked that fast. I took my time and started to fall way behind.
I hated looking and feeling so weak (which is why I’m not a fan of pregnancy) but there was nothing I could do so I trudged onward. The girls would wait for me and check on how I was doing and I would say “I’m fine!” and keep going. But about 2 miles in I started to have sharp pains and that’s when I stopped and started to worry. 10 weeks is still pretty early and I was worried I was putting myself at risk for a miscarriage.
I had to tell my girlfriends that I was having pain and had to stop. That’s when they sprang into action and called Parks Canada. We had to be on the Canadian side of the border for a rescue which was another mile or so away. Two of them went ahead just in case the boat came before I made it to the dock and another stayed behind with me.
I was HUMILIATED! When I worked in the Park I would hear stories about the rescues of the “dumb tourists” who had no experience and went out unprepared. And now here I was, needing rescue like an idiot. I thought about what I would have done if I was on my own, I likely would have stayed the night at one of the back country campsites rather than face the embarrassment of a rescue.
When we made it to the dock, all four us sat and waited and my friends tried to make me feel better. Logically, it made sense! It was a longer hike than we prepared for, I wasn’t in my usual shape, and I had to err on the side of caution when it came to anything pregnancy related. This rescue wasn’t about me, it was about my baby. Illogically, I felt really dumb.
When the boat rescue came, the first thing I said was “Please tell me you do a lot of rescues like this, even if it’s not true.” And the guy responded “We do rescues like this all time!” So we all put on our life jackets, took our places on the boat, and headed north for the townsite.
As we zipped along the lake, I realized how long we still would have had to go and I was grateful that I didn’t have to try to power through all those miles. The Parks workers were so nice and drove us back to our vehicle at the trailhead.
We finished off the day with Mexican food at the Twin Butte restaurant and had quite the story to tell to our friends and family when we got home.
The only question is, have I learned my lesson? Will I actually double check distance before I hike again in the future? Will I learn to ask or help when it’s really needed and not have my friends make the decision or me? I don’t know.
All I know is that is probably my most embarrassing hiking story- yet.