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Topic: Adventure Honeymoon - August 24 to September 8< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:31 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Instead of going for a more traditional honeymoon on the beach, my wife and I decided to go on a wild west adventure, including backpacking for 6 days in Glacier National Park. This was her first ever backpacking trip. Great way to find out if she likes it. Luckily, she had a blast.

Trip report to follow.

Blog with full story
Photos


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Ben

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 1
Start: Boulder Pass Trailhead
Camp: Upper Kintla Lake Campsite
Mileage: ~11.6 miles
Elevation Up: ~400 feet
Elevation Down: ~0 feet

Morning came early, but we were ready to go when the alarm sounded. We hopped in the car and began the long drive to Kintla Lake and the trailhead. As we drove along the Outer North Fork Road, we saw the sun coming up over beautiful mountain scenes. Naturally, Ben broke out his camera to capture some of the moments.


Before too long, the pavement vanished and we found ourselves on a dirt road driving through deserted fields and past a couple of isolated shops - a restaurant/merchantile with 10s of signs on trees advertising internet, pizza, ESPN, etc, and a merchantile/town called Polebridge. We were glad for our having chosed to drive ourselves rather than hitchhike when we did not see any other cars on the road at all.

As we drove the final 15 miles of dirt road toward Kintla, the road became more and more potholed. It made dirt roads seem like newly paved in comparison. It became a game of dodge-the-hole, but at times the hole was the whole road and there was no way to win, but to hold on and hope the struts of the car held.

We snuck to the pit toilet at the Kintla Lake campground for a sneak peak of the lake and one last "civilized" rest stop. Then we put on our packs, locked up the car, and headed out on the trail.

On the trail, conversation flowed freely and Kari's bear bell tinkled as she walked. We saw bear tracks in the mud and bear scat on the trail (as well as other animal's). Kari started to figure out how to pee in the woods using mostly fallen trees to hold herself up and prop up her feet.

We passed several hikers going the other way and everyone was friendly - no bear sightings to communicate. We stopped for lunch just short of Lower Kintla Lake campsite and met a ranger on the trail - an older woman who could really move fast if she was keep up with and catching us! After checking our permit, she commented on how we had a great trip planned.

We stopped again by the ranger patrol cabin at the head of Lower Kintla Lake to admire the view. We heard what sounded like a wolf howl (the ranger said it was a loon) and saw a bald eagle glide over the lake to land in a tree.

We continued on hiking. Ben was very impressed by the pace Kari was setting. :-) We were not stopping often at all and were averaging an estimated 2 MPH.

Most of our hike was relatively flat and through the trees. At times, we were walking along the Lower Kintla Lake. We then walked through more trees and a burn zone while loosely following a river and waterfalls we could hear but not see well. We crossed a river finally and bumped into a group of 6 people who told us about a friendly guy named John who would be at our camp. We continued on and hit the scenic part of our hike along the Upper Kintla lakeside.


As we neared camp, Ben spotted a red food bag hanging across the water and our fervor was restored.

When we got into camp (around 2:30pm), we hung our food bags, somewhat successfully given that it was a first try for both of us, and went to the last camp site left to begin our "chores". Ben showed Kari how to pitch our tent, how to fill the dirty bottle by trailing it back and forth in the water and then how to filter it. It quickly became evident that filtering water was Kari's LEAST favorite camp chore. (Note: future blog post with pictures and how-to for camp chores to help those unfamiliar with the process). Then we sat in the food area to escape the biting flies while we made the firsts of our dehydrated dinners - Mexican Chicken & Rice for Kari and Sesame Chicken & Rice for Ben followed with a nasty apple crisp freeze-dried dessert (HUGE THUMBS DOWN!). Raisins, stay the heck out of our apple crisp!


Our fellow Upper Kintlans joined us in the food prep and riveted us with their stories of past trips. We met John from Helena (a self-employed, primarily light-commercial architect) who was out for the first of 4 backpacking trips in Glacier for that month. Tim and Laura from Indianapolis had been backpacking Glacier annually for the last 15-20 years. The three other guys were about our age, 2 from Atlanta and the third from Oregon (very proud of Mountain House). The Oregonian told us that the mountain on the package is Mount Hood and he also recognized the lake.

After some discussion about John's need for a -40 degree bag in the summer and watching Mars glide along the horizon over the beach, we went to bed.

Our first night in the tent and on the trail. Success!

When Kari laid down in her sleeping bag, she could smell the scent of her conditioner, strong in her hair and spent the early part of the night worried that every animal in the forest would smell her and that Tim's freak marmot would eat through our tent and chew off her hair. The rest of the night Kari struggle with an over-full bladder, refusing to go out to the pit toilet and brave the dark and the critters by herself.

Ben slept soundly.

Click here for blog
Click here for more photos from Glacier National Park


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 2
Start: Upper Kintla Lake Campsite
Camp: Hole-in-the-Wall Campsite
Mileage: ~10.1 miles
Elevation Up: ~3070 feet
Elevation Down: ~1090 feet

After a moderately restful night, we got up, broke down camp, ate breakfast (Berry Berry Smoothie) and bid farewell to the other campers as we all went on our separate ways.

After one last potty break, we set out on our hike. The trail went immediately uphill and off we went at a respectable pace. We trekked through the trees and soon wound our way up a bunch of switchbacks, somewhat shaded by the larger trees. Vegetation along the trail started off short and grew higher as we made our way up the mountainsides. The trees opened up to show us beautiful mountain vistas.


After ~30 minutes, we caught up to John, who was hiking up to Boulder Pass campsite (doing the whole Northern Traverse a few days behind us). We eventually split off again and picked up the pace. The vegetation on the trail grew taller than Kari's modest 5'4" and crowded the path so we had to fight and squeeze through at times. The views were beautiful all day.


At one point, we were hiking along, turned a corner around some high vegetation, and found ourselves face-to-face with a 12-pt white-tail deer buck. Kari might have run into him had Ben not stopped her. (With Kari primarily face down to the trail and leading to set the pace, Ben's primary role was critter patrol. Thanks to his height, he is able to see right over her and scan the surroundings.) The deer seemed more curious than alarmed by the bell on her pack and the sound of another group clanging pots, causing Kari to question the effectiveness of metallic noises as a way of preventing bear confrontation. Previously at the Apgar Backcountry Permit Office, we were told that bear bells were effectively useless; however, we had one so might as well use it. After grabbing some pictures with the wide angle and warning the approaching group of pot-musicians about the buck, we were on our way again through the clearing and into the shade of the pines.

As the hike continued, we found ourselves winding up the switchbacks of a beautiful mountainside with mountain and glacier views, wildflowers, and eventually creeks and waterfalls. It was a little warm but stunningly beautiful hike.



As we reached the top of the mountainside, the grasses gave way to rock and we found ourselves in Boulder Pass: a perfect place to stop for lunch. It was here that I learned that pee tends to puddle when you go on rock surfaces, so you really want to be sure you're far enough off trail. :-P

Following lunch, some dark clouds began rolling in. Exposed on the stone ridgeline as we were, we wanted to get moving as quickly as possible. We hustled out of there but stopped to put on the DriDucks Jackets and pack covers. By the time they were on, the rain had pretty much stopped. At least the camera was safe.

We continued our hike through the pass and saw our first glacier close-up. It was incredible how much water the Boulder Pass Glacier produced! A small river flowed out of it constantly! We grew to appreciate the cairns as we followed the "trail" past the scree field, through the glacial run-off creek, and across the giant boulders and rock slabs. Around the corner, we found a basin and way down in it, a small building that looked like it could be a patrol cabin. We continued along the side of the mountain, over scree fields and waterfalls, snaking our way along the ridge above the basin. The brush was dry and the ground dusty as well rounded off the basin edge and spotted a sign indicating the .6 miles leading to Hole-in-the-Wall. On our way in, two guys were leaving the camp to explore Boulder Pass, and we wished them well.

When we arrived in camp around 2:30pm, we hung the food and picked out a site back beside the creek that ran through camp. After some exploration, we discovered that what we had thought was a ranger's patrol cabin was actually a palatial pit toilet, complete with solar decomposition, hand sanitizer, reading material to educate about the solar decomposition process, ~50 sq ft of leg room, and a distinct lack of fowl odors.


We set up camp and began filtering water and washing some clothes at the creek by our tent, when dark clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, carrying droplets of water. No sooner had we rain-proofed our packs and ducked inside the tent, the rain began to pour from the sky, quickly transitioning into pea-sized hail that pelted the tent while we were penned up inside. We felt badly for Alex and Liam who were surely stuck out in the storm on the exposed ridgeline (we later learned that they had found and hidden under the only ledge on the trail) and for John who was in the very exposed Boulder Pass campsite. The storm raged for about 1.5 hours, which gave us a chance to journal and snooze a bit. Finally, we were able to re-emerge and start working on dinner.


In food prep, we met Alex and Liam again and heard their storm story, ate some Mexican and Sesame Chicken, socialized with the Canadian college boys and middle-aged AT&T women Terry and Christy until dark, then hit the sack.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 3
Start: Hole-in-the-Wall Campsite
Camp: Goat Haunt Shelters
Mileage: ~10.7 miles plus ~2 miles with spurs to Lake Francis Campsite and Rainbow Falls
Elevation Up: ~260 feet
Elevation Down: ~2440 feet

When we awoke, the morning was dreary and clouds already covered the sky. We quickly broke camp and ate our breakfast bars as raindrops began to fall. We were first out of camp as we all hustled to get into our rain gear and on the trail, as quickly as we could. By the time we had trekked the .6 mile from camp back up to the ridgeline trail, the rain had turned to sleet and was driving at us, exposed on the ledge, in the hard wind. We pulled up our hoods against the onslaught, heads bowed down, and hiked as quickly as we could down the trail, hoping the curve of the mountain and the pines further down would provide some cover.

After ~1 hour of hiking, Alex and Liam caught up to us, impressed at our speed. They asked if we had seen the grizzly and her 2 cubs and told of how they had walked up next to her, heard her growl and saw her just off the trail as they quickly continued past her. We had heard from the ranger that a sow and her cubs liked to hang out and play at the Hole-in-the-Wall campsite. We must have walked right past them. We found out later that night that the bears were on the trail by the time Terry and Christy reached them. The two women had to backtrack all the way to Hole-in-the-Wall as the bears followed and were stuck there until 2pm before they were able to leave and restart their hike.

After Alex and Liam caught us, Ben asked if we were willing to go their speed. We hung with them at their 3+ MPH pace for the next hour. Kari's little legs struggled to keep up at times but with 1.5x the cadence, her trekking poles and road-runner-like speed ups plus some running, she managed. When we reached Lake Francis, we bade our would-be tour guides farewell and headed down the trail to see the lake. There was a fallen tree on the trail (our list of things to discuss with the next ranger was getting longer). Ben smashed through the branches so that Kari could climb over. When we did reach the campsite, we found that the lake was gorgeous.


The sun had come out during our "power hour" with the Canadians, but our shoes were soaked through from the water on the vegetation - we even came up with a song:

There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.
There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.
There's a puddle in my shoe. And I don't know what do to.
There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.

Do not worry, there are more verses coming to what will be an instant classic!

After a quick pit toilet stop, we were on our way again, soggy shoes squishing. The rest of our hike was much more scenic as the sun shone on the mountains and berry bushes around us.



By the time we reached the sign for Goat Haunt (.3 miles), our shoes had stopped squishing and we felt good enough to go on another spur so we continued on the supposed ".7 miles" up to Rainbow Falls. This is when we learned not to trust the mileage on signs to be completely accurate. When we did reach the "falls", we found a writhing river cascade, but neither a waterfall nor a rainbow. It did, however, make a nice spot to take out our lunch. Perhaps in late spring, during heavy snow melt, there might be enough spray to produce a rainbow, but in late summer, "Rainbow Falls" was unremarkable.

After lunch, we backtracked and finished the short remainder of our hike to the Goat Haunt Ranger Station. Upon arrival (~3pm), the border patrolman gruffly asked whether we came from Canada. Satisfied that we had not, he then directed us to check-in with the ranger who would be back shortly. As we waited, we got our first good look at Waterton Lake - it was stunning!


The most beautiful scene we had seen since setting foot in Glacier. We can only hope that every backpacking visitor gets the opportunity to have that view with calm waters, fluffy clouds and blue sky.


After checking in with the ranger and learning about the campsites (cement-floored, covered shelters) and amenities (flush toiles with hand sanitizer, filtered water spigots, and trash cans!), Ben always thinking about food, asked what berries were edible. He was "stoked" to learn that all berries are edible and that he was allowed to eat a quart/day.

We hung our smellies and picked a shelter site with a great view of the lake, where Kari began laying out the tent parts to dry them from the last evening's rain. Ben filled the bottles with provided clean water from the spigot and took over drying and assembling the tent, while Kari took her still-soaked laundry from Hole-in-the-Wall and rewashed it with Dr. B's soap in the tiny bathroom sink (think tiny airplane bathroom). Kari also managed to take a moderately successful sponge bath (using her laundry) in the sink with Dr. B's! Woohoo!


With camp ready early, we went down to the end of the beach to soak our feet in the cold water and watched as the ferry from Canada arrived.


Tourists spilled off the boats and flooded the beach, running, shouting, laughing, and skipping rocks that splashed us, still sitting on our little log. When the tourists left, we laid back and let the moisture dry out of our feet. Ben had some pretty hugh pieces of skin detaching and Kari's were translucent white (early stages of "trench foot").On the walk back to the campsites, Ben wore Kari's flip-flops to protect his sore feet and picked up the tourist's trash from the asphalt walkway. The tourists had used up all the TP in the bathroom and Ben had to sanitize the way he had been instructed by the Hole-in-the-Wall reading material, by using our own limited TP supply and the hand sanitizer to wipe off the pee that was splattered all over the seat. Disgusting! Darn tourists!

For those unwilling to do a multi-day backpacking trip, we learned that Goat Haunt can also be accessed by taking a boat from the Canadian side. It is absolutely worth the trip out.


Just please do NOT leave pee on the seat!

A note on that:

Ladies: Don't hover! If no one hovered, there would never be pee on the seat!

Guys: Be realistic with your aim! It's only as long as it is! Keep the pee in the pot!

As we were finishing up our tasty, though slightly crunchy dinner of penne with chicken in spaghetti sauce, Terry and Christy straggled in, looking ragged. We had expected to see them get on the 5:30pm ferry with the tourists; however, plans had changed thanks to mama grizzly and the ladies regaled us with their story.

We concluded our evening by starting a fire in the fancy, schmancy fireplace in the pavilion, relaxing together on the benches in its warmth, and journalling before retiring for bed. While it was a little cloudy when we went to bed, we did get a peek at some beauitul stars over the lake when the sky cleared up and Kari stirred late that night.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park


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Ben

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 4
Start: Goat Haunt Shelters
Camp: Stoney Indian Lake Campsite
Mileage: ~7.5 miles with ~1 mile spur to Kootenai Lake
Elevation Up: ~2125 feet
Elevation Down: ~0 feet



Our morning began, as the other mornings had, with an early wake up (~6:30am courtesy of the built-in Benjamin alarm clock) and tear down of camp. After bidding Terry and Christy an uneventful day and a more successful boat ride to Canada and eating a quick breakfast bar, we were back on the trail. Today was going to be our short day and Kari was a little cranky about not being allowed to sleep in or soak in the beauty of the lake more, but Ben wanted to get to the lake at our next camp early so he could wash his clothes and take a bath/swim in the lake.



The first 5 miles of our hike were flat and went by quickly. We discovered some meadow clearings that Ben was enamored with and hiked under the shade of fully grown trees. Although it was still early, the air was heating up fast and it looked to be a beautiful, sunny day.

On the recommendation of a friendly Swede we met on-trail, hoping surely (in vain) to find cell service to message his mother, we took a .5 mile spur to see Kootenai Lake. As promised, it was well worth the extra walk. The water was serene and glass-like, perfectly reflecting the mountains around it. We made a mental note of the campsite for future visits.



With about 2.5 miles to go, we began going up the rapid ascent in elevation we had known was coming. Kari had enjoyed the hike and elevation changes on Day 2 so much that she was looking forward to crushing this climb too and reaching the beautiful vistas above.

The sun beat down on us and we continued our climb, soon finding ourselves on a mountainside, completely surrounded by berry bushes that crowded the path, trapping the humid heat of the day against our bodies and blocking our view of the rest of the mountainside and what lay around the next corner. Though in the endless series of steep/sharp switchbacks, the answer was pretty easy - another overgrown switchback. In the midst of trudge through the bushes, Kari could not see much of the scenery around and began to look at her feet and the path directly in front of them. While the bushes around her did not seem to change, at least she knew her feet were moving.

"Bear!" Ben yelled after we turned a quick corner and grabbed Kari's pack to stop her. Meanwhile, Kari only heard the crash and saw leaves moving in the bushes ahead.

We were about halfway up the mountain, completely surrounded by berry bushes and we could not see anything but the path on our current switchback. As soon as Ben had yelled "Bear", the small black bear dove into the bushes.

"Should we go backward?" Kari asked as Ben took the bear pepper spray out of Kari's bag and she took the can of bear pepper spray out of his.

"We do not know where it is. We cannot see. It could be behind us by now." he responded.

He had a point.

We each removed the safety from our bear pepper spray. In the process, some discharged onto Ben's hands and face. Imagine rubbing oil from several habaneros all over your hands and face. At first, there is only a slight tingling followed by extremely intense burning. Burning so intense that it feels like your skin is peeling off. Typically, you would flush the oil from your skin for 15-20 minutes with cold water; however, we were on the side of the mountain without water. Despite the burning, we decided to continue forward along the trail slowly and loudly. Kari's adrenaline was pumping. We had perfected the lyrics to "Call Me Maybe" (courtesy of Canadian Alex who had hummed it repeatedly at Hole-in-the-Wall) earlier the previous morning. Ben requested that Kari sing it and clack her trekking poles together as we wound our way through the never-ending bush-encased switchbacks.

Kari worried.

What if the capsaicin from the bear pepper spray got in Ben's eyes?

Would it blind him?

It was already on his forehead and lips, spreading as sweat carried it dripping down the flushed splotches of his skin. We tried wet wipes to no avail. Ben grunted as his face grew redder and told Kari to hurry and that he needed water soon to flush it. Kari hurried on, pushing through berry bushes that scratched her exposed legs and arms and tugged at her pack, clacking her poles and singing that darn song over and over again, as loudly as she could while Ben tried to stifle his pained grunts. Gasping for breath, Kari eventually had to stop a moment in the shade of two solitary pines. Kari was hot, she realized. Kari was terrified that she'd turn the next corner and be nose-to-nose with a bear. She hated that she could not do anything to help Ben or to stop the burning that had begun on her septum. While we stopped, Ben had Kari spit water from her bladder onto his face to stop the burning. Kari was terrified that she would get it in his eyes and blind him. Kari realized, with the water in her mouth, that she had not drunk any water since encountering the bear. Ben could not take the pain any longer. After about 30-45 minutes of burning, we finally found a creek - he laid down on the rocks and stuck his face in the rushing water over and over again. The cold water on his skin, cooling it and flushing the chemicals off provided the relief he needed. We sat there for a brief lunch so Ben could stick his face in the water intermittently.

After a lot of flushing, Ben seemed to be feeling better. His arm now burned too, but his face felt a lot better. We had finally made our way out of the giant mountainside of berry bushes, but wound up on another exposed mountainside, surrounded by overgrown foliage and, later, more #@$!#$& berry bushes. As we continued up the steep switchbacks, Kari's body began to fail her and her skin grew cold. Of course, this only made her more frustrated and her will power plummeted. Kari was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Ben got behind me and cheered me on, then led the way through the brush as she trudge up the mountain.

By the time Kari stumbled into camp (around 1:45pm), it was apparent that Kari had been suffering from heat exhaustion. We went to food prep, sat in the shade, and made sure we drank water and ate a little food to recover. That may have been the shortest hike, but it sure kicked our butts!

After some recovery, we put our smellies in the bear box (way more convenient than hanging) and split up to do the camp chores. Kari assembled the tent and set up camp while Ben filtered water. But first, Ben set about doing his laundry - soon he was in his boxers, sitting on a rock, rubbing his clothes in the sand and letting them dry in the grass. The pair who had left camp soon after we got there was gone and no one was there to see until a couple came passing through. When we were alone, Kari joined Ben in washing her clothes and even got in the freezing cold water with him and dunked up to her shoulders. Ben swam around a bit to "bath" himself.


While the clothes dried, we did our respective chores. Kari squatted down, still wearing her Frogg Toggs to keep warm while she was wet, and busted open the seam along the whole crotch of the pants. Note to self: avoid doing camp set-up tasks and squatting in Frogg Toggs. Thank goodness for duct tape. We also discovered the pit toilet, which was no more than a mostly-full hole w/ a box seat placed on top of it - no walls whatsoever. It had a great view, as Ben pointed out. He thought it was hilarious but Kari was freaked and, thinking that ANYTHING could crawl or fly in and then come out when she sat down. Kari was also not a fan that the only privacy source was the toilet's distance from camp. Kari made Ben go with her whenever she needed to "use the facility" there. Kari would later be vindicated when another woman admitted similar fears with the toilet and, with no hubby to accompany her, she ran the whole way back, terrified.


After setting up the tent in the freezing shade of the mountain (our site was in a basin), Kari joined Ben by the clothes over on the sunny side of the camp.

Still trying to alleviate the burning on his arm, Ben tried applying neosporin, thinking it might numb the skin. Kari used some on her nose, but found that instead of numbing her skin, it caused the burning sensation to intensify. She ran to the lake and flushed her nose and lips with lake water for 15-20 minutes. Ben, being the wonderful man he is, put the smellies back in the bear box and sat by her side, scratching her back as she flushed her face. We rinsed off the outside of the bear spray can as a precaution to avoid further incidents. The oils from the can formed a swirly pattern that coated the surface in the corner of the lake.


Crisis averted, we sat by our clothes drying in the sun and journaled until it was time for dinner. It was an experimental, trial 1 recipe: Chili Mac (bland with a weird texture from the blended up beef). It was hard to get through. Only the promise of a tasty dessert spurned Ben on. After teeth brushing and a quick meet-and-greet with the late-arriving man and woman in camp, we were off to bed for an early night. Also, Ben used up the last of the TP. He thought it was funny. Not "haha" funny, but "uhoh" funny. Kari was not amused.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park


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Ben

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 5
Start: Stoney Indian Lake Campsite
Camp: Elizabeth Lake (Foot) Campsite
Mileage: ~14.4 miles and ~1 mile with spurs to Cosley Lake and Dawn Mist Falls
Elevation Up: ~1200 feet
Elevation Down: ~2708 feet



Kari was all too happy to be leaving Stoney Indian. Goodbye cold mountain shadows! Goodbye memories of heat exhaustion and chemical burn! And goodbye awful pit toilet! After breaking down camp and a tasty kiwi berry smoothie for breakfast, we were on our way before our campmates even left their tent.



We began up the steep climb - a series of switchbacks that lead out of the basin, up and over the side of the mountain. Upon reaching the top, we noticed a distinct change in the frequency of useful trail signs indicating which paths were overlooks/scenic/game trails and which was the true path. Fortunately, we chose the correct paths and were able to navigate the basin and valleys on the other side successfully.


The trail leading down the mountain was beautiful, taking us past high mountain glaciers, through tall pines overlooking lakes, across rivers that lead down to waterfalls, cascading into the valley below.


As we descended into the valley we passed through many berry bushes and Ben got to snack on thimbleberries. We did not encounter any bears amongst the bushes; the mountainside shaded us from the sun; and the sight of rivers, waterfalls and lakes below kept our spirits high.


As we descended into the valley, the trees grew thicker and continued to shade us. It became apparent just how far Mokowanis Lake would have been and we were grateful for the permit change, especially given the circumstances of yesterday. Upon the recommendation of several hikers we'd passed by, we made a mental note to stop by Cosley Lake before fording the river and continued onto Elizabeth Lake.

In the valley, we were warned by several hikers that a black bear sow and her cub had been seen hanging out by the Glenn's Lake (Head) Campsite. And, sure enough, despite our loud conversation, bear bell, and boisterous versions of "Call Me Maybe" and 'guess that song', there they were on the trail. Ben saw them first and stopped Kari. This time they did not run. We did our, now practiced, bear encounter procedure - Ben took the bear spray out of Kari's pack and Kari took Ben's as he moved between her and the bears, both of us careful to leave the safety firmly in place. Mama bear moved slowly toward us and baby bear stood up on tip-toes, trying to see around her. We packed up slowly, talking calmly to the bear. After briefly considering us, Mama bear took her cub and ran off into woods. Grateful that we knew roughly where they were, we moved slowly and noisily down the trail before putting our bear sprays away.

We stopped for 1st lunch in the food prep at Glenn's Lake (Head) Campsite before continuing on. After many bungled renditions of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", "Call Me Maybe", and various Christmas carols, we arrived Cosley Lake. The mountain and lake views from camp were beautiful and we noted that this would be a good place to stay in the future.



We were tauntingly close to the ford site but, looking back at the trail behind us, the view of the mountains lakes and rivers we had traversed in just this one day was incredible.

Two rangers sauntered up behind us on horses and we shared our bear encounter stories while they examined our permits and then mosied on.

Finally, we reached the river ford site. Now, we had come "Boy Scout Prepared" for just about anything, but fording the river was our one major unknown. We had no idea how deep the water was, how fast, how sharp the rocks would be, etc. But we were pleased to find that the river was mellow and only came up to Kari's upper calves in the deep spots. We crossed, one at a time - 1 hand on the cable that ran above the water, the other clutching one of Kari's trekking poles for extra balance. Ben was very happy to find the river-bottom rocks were worn and smooth against his bare feet (Kari was in flip-flops).

After our successful river crossing, we rewarded ourselves with 2nd lunch, sitting on the riverbank and gazing at the majestic mountain view.


Following lunch, we dried our feet and trekked on through the forest. We discovered "Dawn Mist Falls" - one spur to a waterfall that actually WAS worth the extra effort, a short way off the trail. Then we continued on to finish up the final couple miles to Elizabeth Lake (Foot) Campsite.

We were very happy to reach the food prep area and have a quick snack. Our feet had really hurt during that last mile and Kari was grumpy. When "the gorgeous" is grumpy, nobody is happy.

After putting our food in the bear box, we set out our tent to dry from last night's dew and endured mass assault from horrible little green bugs while we filtered water by the lake (careful to get water FAR from where one of our campmates decided to pee on the beach - you could tell we were getting nearer to the exit point).

We had a good, long evening eating dinner and socializing with our fellow campmates. We met Dustin, who was a wildlife biologist and field workers traveling from job-to-job and backpacking in between for the last several years. The pair we had met as we arrived at Stoney Indian Lake joined us here - they appeared to be siblings who loved to sleep in, eat full-fat southern dishes and carried a portable shower. Matt and Ellen were Montana natives and friends of Dustin just out for a night before going back to college for the Fall. The eclectic group had an interesting dynamic, with one main commonality - a love of time in nature. We stayed up, swapping stories until long after the stars came out.


When we did retire for the night, we laid half-out of our tent, balanced the camera in a hiking boot "tripod" and took some awesome star photos before going to sleep.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park


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Ben

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 05 2013, 3:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Day 6
Start: Elizabeth Lake (Foot) Campsite
Exit: Ptarmigan Trailhead
Mileage: ~10.6 miles with ~4.2 miles spur trail to Iceberg Lake
Elevation Up: ~2518 feet
Elevation Down: ~2480 feet



It was another morning of tearing down camp, followed by a quick breakfast with our campmates before beginning our last day on the trail.


Right from the start of our hike, we began ascending the mountain via a series of switchbacks weaving up through the trees. As we climbed up and up, Ben paused to capture views from the overlooks on his camera and to scavenge berries. Raspberries and thimbleberries were favorites of the day, choke cherries, elderberries and various other mystery berries were huge disappointments.


After about 1.5 hours, we reached the ridgeline, where the forest faded into open scree fields. We traversed these slippery slopes as they climbed toward Ptarmigan Tunnel. While keeping our eyes open for any grizzlies that might be playing in the fields below us (at a safe distance for photo ops), we spotted a pair of moose grazing and paused to take their pictures and snack on some raspberries near where we sat.



We dusted ourselves off and continued climbing the final ledge to Ptarmigan Tunnel. As we proceeded past the man-made wall that lined the walkway, we paused to admire the nearby glaciers and listened to their creaks and groans.


Despite having climbed over 2000 feet in our first 5 miles, carrying heavy packs, we appeared to be the first people of the day to reach the tunnel. We took some photos on the north-west entrance of the tunnel, chased a chipmunk out of the dark as we admired the stonework and noted the sidewalls a ranger had told us before were designed to keep horses centered within the tunnel so riders in years past would not bump their heads on the ceiling.


As we emerged on the south-east side, we met the first hikers arriving from that side. After a few pictures there, we sat down for 1st lunch and defended Kari's goodies from our pesky chipmunk friend (PLEASE DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS).


Following lunch, we continued down the mountain, past numerous day-hikers, admired their various fragrances, and were amazed at the fear of bears which the park had instilled in them.


Kari became increasingly concerned about whether Kari would be able to find a place to pee with all the day-hikers on the trail. What an inconvenience! Fortunately, Ben stood watch and crisis was averted.


Other than a short pause to photograph a mountain goat family, playing on the snow off trail, our descent went uninterrupted and we quickly arrived at the intersection with Iceberg Trail. Taking the path leading up toward Iceberg Lake, we climbed up what smelled to be a popular day hike trail. With our big backpacks, questionable body odor, and Ben stopping intermittently to snatch thimbleberries off the bushes, we definitely stood out. When we made it to the lake, we sat down for 2nd lunch and filtered some of the icy water to wash it down.


With our tummies and water bottles full, we began our descent, keeping an eye on the grey clouds that were starting to roll over the valley. We passed the sign indicating the direction to Many Glacier and set off in the direction of our final 2.8 miles toward Many Glacier Campground. We held hands when the path was wide enough to do so. Our feet had already begun to hurt - 13 miles in a day seemed to be Kari's limit with a full pack. The backwoods phase of our adventure honeymoon was coming to a bittersweet and drizzly end.

We held hands as we stepped off the trail and into the parking lot. With no clear idea of exactly where Many Glacier Campground was and no desire to walk on the hard asphalt any more than we had to, we strolled together down the street to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Office. Taking charge, Ben approached the front desk and asked where the campground was and where to be to get on the 9am shuttle the following morning, so we could get to our rental car and retrieve Ben's Honda from Kintla Lake on the opposite side of the park.

Good thing he asked!

Despite having been told over the phone during the planning months preceding our trip several times that the 9am shuttle would be available, the 9am shuttle would, in fact, NOT be running anymore. Fortunately, we arrived 30 minutes prior the 4:45pm shuttle, giving us just enough time to find a room in East Glacier for the night prior to picking up the rental. The manager on duty pointed out the East Glacier accommodations to Ben and handed him the phone, wishing him luck finding a room. After a couple no answers, Ben found us a place to stay for the night, so we went out to wait for the shuttle.

While we sat on the kid-sized bench by the door, we met a small group of thru-hikers who were almost finished traversing the Continental Divide Trail. They carried minimal gear, but claimed to hike ~30 miles/day, making Kari feel like an absolute weenie.

When the shuttle arrived, we hopped in the back to keep our smell (which had only gotten REALLY bad on this final day) away from the other riders. We moved up by the driver when the other riders had left and were joined by one last rider. This man was probably ~30 years old and had been doing seasonal concessionary work and exploring the world since graduating college. Now, he and his girlfriend travel and work together, getting jobs via connections and storing up letters of recommendation. But as they get older and thoughts of kids start to enter their minds, things would be changing and the transition might be difficult. This was a very interesting conversation for Kari because that was how she had wanted to live but I had chosen a different path. Glacier for season, then off to Nepal, then who knew!

The shuttle driver was also a seasonal worker - he and his wife worked at Glacier doing more grown-up jobs over the summers and stayed in provided housing.

The driver kindly dropped us off at the door of the convenience mart/Avis/etc. where we met the store owner who also owned the motel we would be staying at, along with several other businesses in town. We dropped off our bags at The Whistling Swan Motel, bought two pizzas (1 12" pizza for each of us) and demolished the food, while sitting on the "dirty" bed. We splurged with some TV and showers (though the body odor would persist through several washes) and hopped into the clean queen bed for the night.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 06 2013, 12:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

These pictures are stunning - thanks!  

(I didn't read all the words in the TR, but the parts that I read were great - thanks for posting!)


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 11:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What a great, classic hike!  You were brave to do it as a honeymoon (we did a honeymoon backpack, but both of us were experienced and knew what we could do.  We also took our parents and some siblings along :D )

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 11:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

HOLY POST!  Congrats and awesome story.  My wife and I did a CC trip to Yellowstone, Badlands, Grand Teton, etc.  We camped but didn't backpack.  It was awesome.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 12:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank you! Glacier was stunning! She caught the bug to go for more backpack trips. For better or worse, I may have spoiled her for local trips in the Midwest.

Originally, my sister and her husband were going to tag along, but they got pregnant with their first earlier this spring. Super happy for them and to become an uncle, but no big trips for them for a while.

I was a little concerned with how things would play out. I just tried to do everything I could to lighten her load to almost nothing (I carried all of our food and most of the shared gear, which she daily thanked me for) and prepare her for the physical component. Thankfully, we are both competitive cyclists, so the physical demands were not too bad. The mental aspect ended up being the most challenging at times. It is a good thing I have the ability to flip the switch to super motivational guy when necessary. Letting her lead the way and constantly reminding her that we were in no rush, helped a lot. Our both being stubborn certainly did not hurt. In the end, being able to take things at whatever speed she could handle worked pretty well for us. It was great that the first day was relatively easy to ease in to things a bit.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 07 2013, 7:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good trip report, thanks for the post enjoyed reading and see the pic.s
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 08 2013, 2:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the great TR and pictures, what a way to start a marriage.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2013, 9:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Congrats!  Great trip report and very ambitous for a first backpack with a new bride!

She sounds like a keeper.

We went on a 17 day backpack while we were young and highly motivated, but we had been married three years and had about a dozen trips under our belt.  It was still a challenge when we started with her pack at just under 40 pounds and mine at 70, but we made it without any replenishment, and due to great fishing had some food left over.

Love your pictures, makes me want to head for Glacier as soon as it is open!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 14 2013, 10:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

wwwest, not to hyjack but I got to see those pics!  A 70 pound pack, ouch.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 14 2013, 2:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikingFF77 @ Oct. 14 2013, 10:59 am)
QUOTE
wwwest, not to hyjack but I got to see those pics! A 70 pound pack, ouch.

Well, the truth is that trip was in 1970, in the Selway Wilderness of Idaho, and there are no digital pictures to post.  We do have a carousel of slides from that trip, which the kids and I love to look at.  Wife not so much.

And, for the first 10 days, my pack stayed pretty much 70 lbs!  Whatever room was created by removal of food each day was used by something from Wife's pack until it was reduced to about 20 pounds, then I began to make some headway.  But I was young, strong, charged with testosterone, and 70 pounds was not that big a deal.

Trip of a lifetime, and the best high lake fishing I have ever experienced.  Wish that we had done more like it, but reality and children tend to intrude at that time of life.


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