23 August 2010

hike: glacier national park, boulder pass and brown pass

Me at Boulder Pass. 
We got up as early as we could manage, gulped down some coffee and trader joes blueberry muesli mixed with instant oatmeal and topped with cranberries. We had some serious trail to cover this day -- 16.5 miles I believe, is my all-time single day record (I remember having a really long day on my last 50-miler with the girl scouts, but I think that was more like 12 or 13 miles). We headed up and into a recently-burned forest, like a telephone pole farm. Fresh new shrubs covered the ground -- they'll have most of the sun while the trees get reestablished, then thin out again as the forest canopy develops.

Looking down into Hole in the Wall basin
from the east side of Boulder Pass.
The views of Kintla Peak, Agassiz Glacier, and a pass that was formed from the most amazing step-like rock erosion were spectacular. Looking back, we could see Upper and Lower Kintla Lakes... and then the switchbacks began. According to our NPS backcountry permit, we climbed 3470 feet that day... nothing to sneeze at. Up and over Boulder Pass (easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, if only because of the stellar views in all directions), and down into a deep green basin with cascading waterfalls and views of Bowman Lake, Thunderbird Mountain and Brown Pass, where we would camp that night. I realize now that a good bit of this view was also of Canada -- I should've waved. We chatted a lot on the trail (talking is encouraged in bear country), and we played kid's travel games to keep the talking nearly constant, interspersed with "hey bear".

Heading down from Boulder Pass towards Brown Pass,
Bowman Lake in the background.
We arrived at the Brown Pass campground a bit grumpy (did I mention the 16.5 miles?), and were greeted by more mosquitoes than was really necessary (the permit-issuing ranger did warn us about the mosquitoes, at least). There were only three campsites at this campground. We dined on chicken noodle soup (I'm convinced: soup packets are a source of sanity in camp), tortellini with vegetables and I suspect we had some dessert, though I don't recall what it was. Hung the food and tromped off to bed.

more photos can be found here.

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