(Alistair on Mt Albert, Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, Alberta 25th December 2020)
Alistair Des Moulins was born in Scotland in 1952 and grew up in Southern England. He has always been keen to see what is on the other side of a hill or a headland. He studied Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and while there started climbing the “Munros” (the 283 Scottish mountains over 3000’ in elevation which are considered to be separate peaks).
After graduating in 1974 he hiked his first “long distance trail”, the 250 mile long Pennine Way in Northern England in 14 days. He then worked in Scotland and climbed all the munros twice and the Corbetts (the 225 Scottish mountains between 2500’ and 2999’ feet in elevation with a drop of 500’ on all sides). While on vacation in Calgary in 1981 he was offered a job as a computer programmer so he emigrated to Canada in 1982.
He was soon a member of the Rocky Mountain Ramblers in Calgary and leading mostly backpacking and ski touring trips in the Rockies. Most years he would coordinate a 9 day backpacking trip to somewhere new to him. At the end of each trip he would wish that the trip would be longer.
This eventually led him and his wife to give up their work contracts in 2003 so they could hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the USA-Mexico border to Manning Park, BC – this is really a series of 30 backpacks of 10 days or less, one after the other! His mother thought this would get the hiking thing out of his system. Instead it led to hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 2006/2008, the Grand Enchantment Trail in 2013, the Pacific Northwest Trail in 2015, a 5+ month thru-hike of Te Araroa (New Zealand’s “long pathway”) in 2017/2018 and a return to California’s Sierra Nevada in 2019 to hike a 500 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail again. In 2020 and 2021 Alistair and his wife enjoyed 9 day trips in the Willmore Wilderness Park in Alberta.
Hiking long trails has given him a real appreciation for how much work is involved in planning, building and maintaining trails. He and his wife now regularly volunteer to do trail work with the Great Divide Trail Association in Alberta and BC.
Alistair became a director of the Alberta Hiking Association (AHA) in 2014 and has represented Alberta hikers on various government processes in Southern Alberta. When an Alberta representative was needed on the Hike Canada board, Alistair was chosen as he was the only AHA director who had hiked long trails. He ceased to be a director of AHA in November 2020 due to the bylaw limit of 6 years on the AHA board.
Alistair and his wife are now retired and live in Coleman in SW Alberta, the first supply town for hikers heading north on the Great Divide Trail, and just 15 kms from the BC border.