Full moon ride, and a bear jam

August 19th, 2005

Here are two miscellaneous shots from a couple recent events in the park.

It is a favorite pastime of employees around the park to ride their bikes down from Logan Pass under the full moon. I missed this opportunity last year, due to some flat tires at the beginning of the ride, so I couldn’t pass it up this year. I had to work this particular night, and while my amazing partners in this picture (as well as one who had already begun to descend) rode the entire 18 miles and 2500 feet up to the pass, I drove in my car around 2am and met them nearer the top and finished the last 1000 or so vertical feet with them. This shot was taken around 3:30 or 4am, when the moon is high above, lighting up the entire park. We’re at the pass, about to descend. It was truly an amazing ride.

This next shot is from an infamous “bear jam” that occured on a daily basis in Many Glacier, as there were a few grizzlies and black bears that came out on a particular hillside every day. Bear Jams are quite annoying, and they consist of incredibly lazy people who rarely get out of their cars while visiting such a beautiful place. Quite often, as was the case in this picture, there are cars lined on either side of a narrow road, with turnouts within a very short walking distance. In the left background, you can see the top of an RV in one such turnout, less than 500 feet away from all the cars. And since the bear itself is probably a quarter to half mile away, there is no threat from the animal, so walking the short distance does not put you in danger. When I took the picture, I got lucky, as two of the participating cars decided to pull out from either side at the same time, thus neither being able to pass the other.

Lake Frances

August 16th, 2005

Day one of a to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. This day involved a boat trip back into Glacier’s Goat Haunt ranger station, at the southern shores of Waterton Lake, and a hike to Lake Frances in the northern part of Glacier.

We drove up early to catch the 10am boat from Watertown village down Waterton Lake, which goes back across the border into the U.S. and arrives at Goat Haunt, a backcountry ranger station in Glacier. From Goat Haunt, it is about a 7 mile hike in to Lake Frances. Last year, Shaney and some friends came up here later in the season and picked a few quarts of thimbleberries, which somewhat resemble a raspberry. While they weren’t in full bloom yet, we did find a couple of decent patches which netted us a full liter bottle, enough for my boss to make us a pie!

The only issue we had was misjudging the distance back. After finding a second patch, we spent a little too much time picking and almost missed the last boat out of Goat Haunt. The boat left at 8:05pm, and it was 8:00 when we hit the sign that read “Goat Haunt Ranger Stn. - 0.9 miles.” I ran my ass off and when I got to the lake, the boat was pulled away from the dock and in the harbor, but not too far for them to miss my flailing arms. Thankfully, because we weren’t really dressed or equipped for a cold night there. Anyway, here are some photos from the hike

***NOTE: Please excuse the graininess of the photos. They were not developed at the usual place, and this place did a particularly bad job.***

Lake Janet.

Porcupine Ridge (on the right) and the spires of the Citadel Peaks (center), with Mt. Cleveland in the clouds behind.

Lake Frances.

Here are two shots of Lake Janet from the trail on the way back. If placed next to each other, the first one would be on the right. Porcupine ridge is the mountain in the center.

Mt. Cleveland is now visible in the center background.

Some alpenglow shots from the boat. Every night, when the sun sets, it paints the mountains and clouds a various shades of red for about 10 minutes.

Here are the Citadel Peaks and Porcupine Ridge.

And a final shot of Cleveland in full glow.

Akamina Ridge

August 15th, 2005

The second day of our trip was along Akamina Ridge, which begins as a hike in Alberta and crosses into British Columbia, where said ridge is located. It offers amazing views into the northern parts of Glacier, as well as further north into Canada.

This large 10-12 point deer which was sitting outside one door to the employee dorms at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Deer are notorious for hanging around Waterton village.

This is the border of Alberta and B.C., at the Continental Divide, at Akamina Pass and the entrance to Akamina Provincal Park. From here, there is actually a swath cut through the forest along the border, and while not exactly a trail, it leads you up to Forum Peak, which is the border of Alberta, B.C. and Montana.

Forum Falls in Akamina Provincal Park.

***NOTE: The following photos were scanned from slides, and unfortunately, some quality was lost in the scanning, particularly in the darker photos.

At Forum Lake, where the trail up the ridge begins.

Looking west at the upper ridge, from below.

Looking east, from the same spot, at Forum Peak in the foreground and some of the high peaks in the northeast of Glacier in the background.

Looking east from the first peak on the upper ridge.

Looking southeast from that same peak.

Looking southwest into the Kintla Lake valley. Upper Kintla Lake is seen below, and the towering peaks of Kinnerly and Kintla are in the left background.

Looking west from that peak at our impending ridgewalk.

Looking east at the ridgewalk we just completed, from the second peak on the upper ridge.

Looking south from the second peak. Kinnerly and Kintla Peaks are in the right background.

Looking northeast into Alberta.

Looking west into B.C., on our way down the ridge.

Mt. Cleveland

August 5th, 2005

Mt. Cleveland, at 10,466 feet, is the highest peak in Glacier. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to climbing it until some coworkers said they had asked off to do it one week, so I arranged my schedule accordingly. It was definitely one of the more memorable hikes, for better or worse (read on for the full story). It’s a long hike, and we got back kind of late, but it was well worth it.

We began by driving to Waterton Lakes in Canada, where we caught the boat down Waterton Lake to Goat Haunt, a backcountry ranger station/border crossing in Glacier. From there, we hiked down to our campsite at Kootenai Lakes, which is a popular moose habitat. We arrived at the lakes around 11am, after taking the first boat from Waterton. Since we were also the first to arrive, we got to see these moose before they ran away.

After leaving our packs, we hiked down the trail to Stoney Indian Lake. This is a shot from the foot of that lake, looking up at Stoney Indian pass.

Here are some wildflowers on the north side of the lake. Unfortunately we were in quite a hurry, so I didn’t wait the couple minutes it would have taken for the sun to come out of the clouds and brighten up the flowers.

From the lake, we left the trail and scrambled uphill to a notch in the ridge connecting the Stoney Indian peaks. Here is a shot from the hill, below the notch, of Stoney Indian Lake.

This shot is from the notch, looking down at the lake. You can also see one of my climbing partners in the rocks in the center of the picture.

This is looking the other way (north) from that notch. Glenn’s Lake is below right, and Whitecrow Mountain is in the background on the left.

Also from the notch, this is looking at our impending traverse behind the Stoney Indian peaks, and eventually up Mt. Cleveland (the small white-colored peak), which is the highest point in the center-right side of the photo.

These two shots were taken just below the summit of Mt. Cleveland. They fit together, with the first one being on the left. In the first, Mt. Merritt is on the left. It is one of the other 10,000 foot-plus peaks in Glacier (there are only six in the park). Also, the notch we climbed to can be seen on the far right of the first picture, and in the left-center of the second picture. The second photo gives a great view of the three Stoney Indian Peaks, and the traverse we made from the notch on that ridge.

As you may have been able to tell by the sunlight and shadows, it was getting a little late in the day by the time we reached the summit of Cleveland. This shot is of the Texas boys on the summit. Mike, holding his GPS (possibly looking at the time too), may be saying to himself…”Oh shit, it’s 8:15pm and we still have 6000 feet to descend.”

This one is again looking east towards the Stoney Indian peaks and beyond. When you are on the highest point in the park, there isn’t much obstructing the views.

We were also very lucky to have such a clear day, as there were some wildfires in eastern Washington that made our skies very hazy in the previous few days.

So, as I mentioned, we summited kind of late, and before we had a chance to make it off the cliffs, the sun set. As you can maybe tell in this photo, we are about even with the distant ridgeline, which is still quite high.

Also as I mentioned, it was a 6000 foot descent from the top of Cleveland to our campsite at Kootenai Lakes. We did not take the same route down to Stoney Indian lake, but instead went out the Camp Creek drainage, which intersects with the trail less than a half mile from our campsite. That being said, we had no established trails to hike down on. Once we finally got off the hill and hit Camp Creek, it was well past the fall of darkness, and being near the new moon, the stars were giving us our only natural light (we also had headlamps).

The first part along the creek was not bad. It consisted mainly of crawling over very large boulders until we hit the forest. Judging by the map, we had a good two miles of bushwhacking through the forest until we hit the trail and our campsite. Being 1:15am, we were hoping to keep about a 1-mile per hour pace and make it back by 4am. Bushwhacking is never fun, especially in the dark, and this hike was no exception. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, but we did come across a spot where a bear had bedded down and had a bite to eat (a large, flattened area which contained a small pile of bones and teeth). Even though the bear was probably there weeks ago, you still don’t feel the urge to stand there and take photos. We also ran across a pretty nice waterfall that hardly anyone has probably ever seen. This may be because the bushwhack in from the trail to see it would not be worth it.

At around 4:30am, we were at a point where we could see the spires of the Citadel peaks through the trees, so we knew we had to be close to the trail. Regardless, we all laid down for a five minute rest that lasted about 45 minutes after we all dozed off. I awoke first and noticed there weren’t many stars out, meaning the sun was coming. We hiked about 5-10 more minutes along the creek until we hit the trail and eventually our campsite by 6am or so.
I also regret not taking any pictures of the 4-5 moose we saw in Kootenai Lake, but I guess my priorities at the moment were sleep, food and water.

The next day, the Texas boys hiked on to another camp where they prepared to climb Mt. Merritt. Dustin and I went back and caught the boat back to Waterton. Here is a shot of the massive Mt. Cleveland, on the left, from the boat.

Poia Lake caves

July 19th, 2005

Poia Lake is located near Many Glacier, about 6 miles down the trail. The cave entrance is on the hill to the east of the lake.

Here is a shot from the stream coming out of Poia Lake, looking north towards Redgap Pass.

A group shot at the cave entrance, with Poia Lake below.

The tiny entrance to the cave, which eventually (thankfully) opens up to a reasonable height.

A narrow, beginning section.

A larger opening a little later.

Shaney in another narrow section.

About halfway through the first cave, it meets up with the stream coming off the waterfall, which flows out of the mountain through another small cave. A bit of downclimbing from the first cave to the stream is necessary at this intersection.

A shot of the stream channel.

Some mini falls in the stream.

A few from the waterfall at the end.