To say Camille Aubin and Alex Beauchamp are tenacious is an understatement.
The Jasper couple hiked the Great Divide Trail, a 1,123-kilometre wilderness hiking trail in the Rockies, in 50 days.
The Great Divide Trail begins in Waterton Lakes National Park at the Canada-U.S. border and ends to the north in Kakwa Provincial Park.
It follows the continental divide between Alberta and B.C. and passes through five national parks, eight provincial parks, three wildland provincial parks, two wilderness areas and two special management areas.
The Great Divide Trail is not the longest trail Aubin and Beauchamp have hiked.
Three years ago they did the Pacific Crest Trail in the U.S., which is 4,000 kilometres long.
And last winter, the energized pair hiked a 3,000 kilometre trail in New Zealand over three and a half months.
But the Great Divide Trail, they said, was way more difficult than the other two trails.
The experienced hikers stocked up on food, using a dehydrator to prepare mixtures of beans, vegetables, rice, couscous.
Ramen noodles - "cheap and tasty" said Beauchamp, plus packages of Sidekicks, were on the menu too.
A water filter allowed them to drink water from creeks and other sources - including a lake with algae in it.
"All was good," Aubin said. "There were some sections that were pretty dry so we had to go with what we found."
Each hiker packed one pair of leggings, one pair of shorts, one short-sleeved and one long-sleeved shirt, pants, a rain jacket, as well as an insulated jacket, mitts, a hat and three pairs of socks.
They wore trail running shoes - "something that dries fast and is light", Beauchamp said. They shared a double quilt and used inflatable pillows.
Everything they took was calculated down to the gram.
Aubin and Beauchamp are active year-round, however Aubin pointed out, "You have to be in shape mentally more so than physically," for such journeys.
They left Waterton on June 26, ready for adventure.
Their rain gear came in handy as it rained for the first five days.
In fact, Aubin said, "The first two weeks were rainy and cold. Everything was wet."
It was the weather and rain, they said, that upped the level of difficulty compared with the Pacific Crest Trail and New Zealand trail.
Fortunately, they kept their quilt in a dry bag, so it, at least, was consistently untouched by moisture.
And there were periods of sunshine and warmth too, in the middle part of their trek, which helped even out the first two weeks and the last two weeks of the trip.
"Even the river crossings were difficult," Aubin said.
"We had trouble finding the trail [sometimes], Beauchamp added, noting that they needed to check their GPS frequently because parts of the trail are unmarked. Their GPS came with SOS emergency call capability, and allowed texts. It was charged with a battery pack when they stayed in hostels and hotels along the way, and once in Jasper because it's along the trail.
Another part of the plan was to ship a box of food to each community they would be passing through. The second location, the Peter Lougheed Information Centre, was closed but "a really nice guy walked in 10 kilometres with a bear box of food, left it on the trail," Aubin said.
This was one of the many times Aubin and Beauchamp experienced kindness from others on their journey.
The highest point the two climbed to was 2,578 metres in the Saskatchewan Crossing, White Goat area.
They didn't encounter a lot of animals along the way - one uninterested bear the first day, and five porcupines in the Kakwa area.
But one experience did stand out.
In the Kananaskis area, the duo saw a bear.
"We realized it was a grizzly. We gave him space," Aubin said. "But when we returned to that spot, we saw him there - he was still there. He started walking in our direction."
They took their bear spray out and walked slowly backwards, watching the bear.
The grizzly walked into the bush and Aubin and Beauchamp decided to take another trail, in order to avoid the bear.
But on the way to the new trail, the bear appeared ahead of the hikers.
"He showed up super close to us. We were about five metres away from the bear," Beauchamp said.
The couple did the same thing as before, backing away slowly with their bear spray ready to discharge if needed. Thankfully it wasn't needed.
Throughout the long journey, there were many times, Aubin said when they were discouraged.
"I was questioning myself - 'Why am I here?' When I looked around - I saw my answer - the mountains," she said.
Beauchamp laughed that it helped "We're crazy," he said.
They reached the end of the trail on August 14, but the magnitude of what they had done and the fact that it was finished, didn't kick in until they got home to Jasper.
"I felt really connected with nature and my partner during the journey," Aubin said.
"When you spend so much time with a person, you need to know them, to understand them. You're together 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Beauchamp said.
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh