Seven Around the Bend Friends club members (some of whom are also prominent members of the Lone Mountain Hiking Club) escaped the City of Lights for nine days on a road trip to Glacier National Park, the Crown of the Continent, for five days of intense hiking. Although the trip was not for the faint of heart nor weak of legs, it was a wonderful week full of awesome scenery and exciting wildlife. (There was an originally scheduled eighth member of the team, however due to an injury she joined us in the latter part of the week.) The remaining team members overcame various physical issues to reach the expectations of our leader and coordinator, Brian D., who herded us from place to place with courage and forethought. We would all like to thank Brian for sharing this experience with us. (Check another one off of the "bucket list!")
Brian's calculations on the statistics of the five days of hiking are as follows:
Sperry Chalet Trail : 6.6 miles, 3393 ft gross gain
Sperry Glacier Trail : 7.8 miles, 2326 ft gross gain
Gunsight Pass Trail: 13.6 miles, 2513 ft gross gain
Highline & Swiftcurrent Trails: 16.0 miles, 2301 ft gross gain
Grinnell Lake / Hidden Falls Trails: 8.1 miles, 668 ft gross gain
Totals : 52.1 miles and 11,201 ft gross gain
Sunday - McDonald Lodge to Sperry Chalet
Monday - Sperry Glacier Trail
After taking another break in the lakes meadow, we slowly moved on down past the boulder field and switchbacks. Stopping at the Akaiyan Falls, Diane and Mary soothed their feet with the cold water. That evening, a dinner of Chinese Chicken was served. We went about the ritual of trying to wash up. One more day and we could get a shower!
Tuesday - Gunsight Pass Trail
John passed the first two switchbacks and was working on the third when he turned around and said to Kay who was twenty feet back and happily taking photos of the pass above, "Bears!" Kay turned to speak to Mary and soon all of us knew what was up. On the hill at 1 o'clock were two grizzlies perhaps 50 yards away. They saw us but seemed unconcerned as they played there while looking for ground squirrels among the ditches. As the team gathered, Jerry hung back taking photos. It was when the bears separated that the writer became concerned. It became more difficult to keep eyes on both of them. Goofy slowly headed up toward the pass while stopping and sniffing the nonexistent wind for our smell. Snort hung back and stayed below the swales of rock and dirt. There was a large concern that Snort would suddenly appear over the dirt and charge. We all had our bear spray out ... and, oh yeah, the bear bell didn't work, I guess. As an aside, we also found out first hand that the bear spray DOES WORK!
The trail was following along the St. Mary River and we sailed along passing questionable footprints in the sand as seen below right.
Wednesday - Highline Trail / Granite Park Chalet /
Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
Red Rock, Fishercap, Swiftcurrent, and Sherburne
Thursday - Grinnell Lake / Hidden Falls Trails
This was a once in a lifetime adventure and the bear story will continue to be embellished, no doubt!