Davis Logan: Canadian Switchbacks

Canadian switchbacks? From spending time hiking through the Lewis and Clark Wilderness, Yellowstone, Lee Metcalf and other state areas my sense of trail design was pretty firm.

Setting foot on Canadian trails is a whole another experience. The Canadian trails for example in Waterton National Park specifically the Goat Lake trail was deceptively labeled to us state hikers. We saw a sign for a short few kilometer hike be as we began the ascent we saw how the trail only ever seemed to continue upwards, unbroken steeper and steeper. Yes, we hit a few switchbacks if they can truly be called as such.

My personal definition of switchback in regards to hiking means a sig zagged trail that allows for easier ascent up a steep gradient.

These Canadian switchbacks seemed to only consist of a single zig never the zig zag duo. Also they either came upon us when the trail seemed more steady or had become nearly steep enough to employ our hands to pull ourselves upwards.

I need to speak with some forest trail managers on either side of the border to find what is needed for and when switchbacks are appropriate, but overall, hiking on Canadian trails is a helluva of a lot tougher than hiking on the States trails. The Canadian trails call for more determination and fervor, which I enjoy more than meandering zig zag trails of the States.

Finally, seeing trails from afar the zig zag pattern is much more obvious and disruptive than the straight on through the wild trails of Canada. I am a fast hiker and appreciate the challenge Canadian switchbacks provide and feel docile when trekking upwards in the States. How do you feel? In regards to switchbacks or no switchbacks?

 

 

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