Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Glacier National Park

This weekend, Justin and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. Neither one of us had ever been to the park and because this was my final weekend in Bonners, we decided to make the trip. Despite the early winter weather that was hitting the area, we departed Friday morning.

Looking east into the park near Polebridge
Bowman Lake
Quartz Lake
Our first stop for the trip was Bowman Lake in the northwest section of the park. Situated just outside the small town of Polebride, this large lake is often overlooked by the large crowds travelling through the main part of the park. After finding a campsite, we began a 12.8 mile loop that climbs over the ridgeline to the south of Bowman Lake and drops into the adjacent valley which holds Quartz Lakes. Snow blanketed the high peaks and although it was cool and overcast, the sun made brief appearances. We returned to our campsite, built a fire, then retreated to warm sleeping bags.
Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald inlet
Although it was cool that first night, we both stayed fairly warm and the following morning brought clear skies. We left Bowman Lake and traveled south to the west entrance of the park and began the drive along the Going to the Sun Road. As many of you know, the views were spectacular and the recent snow made it especially magnificent. We made our way through the park and settled into a campsite on the shore of Two Medicine Lake. Although peak tourist season had come and gone, it was still too crowded in my opinion and we looked forward to the remote hike the next day.
Logan Pass
Creek along Going to the Sun Road
St Mary Lake
St Mary Lake
Mount Sinopah behind
Two Medicine Lake
Mount Sinopah Sunset
That night it got well below freezing and I spent much of it awake and uncomfortably cold. In the morning, neither one of us wanted to spend another night at an even higher elevation, so we decided to change the overnighter to a dayhike. The 18.8 mile loop which leaves from Two Medicine Lake climbs up and over Dawson Pass, traverses over to Pitamakin Pass, and drops back down and around to the lake. As we climbed above tree line, the snow got deeper, but we made it without incident to Dawson Pass. The views on the pass were incredible and we could now see that the traverse over to Pitamakin Pass was a trail that was essentially cut into the side of a near-vertical rock. There was a thick layer of snow over the trail and no footprints across, so we decided it was probably not safe and headed back down the way we came. Once we reached the car, we then drove all the way back to Lake McDonald on the west end of the park and set up camp for our final night, which was much warmer than the previous.

Climbing towards Dawson Pass
Climbing towards Dawson Pass
Two Medicine Lake from Dawson Pass
No Name Lake
Sunrise on Lake McDonald
Outlet of St Mary Lake
Looking West from Dawson Pass
Looking East from Dawson Pass
Dawson Pass
Looking East towards Two Medicine Lake
Elevation profile for Dawson Pass