Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tue, 17Sep - Waterton Lake and Canada!

Cool, misty, and a threat of rain as I start my last day on the CDT and headed out from Fifty Mountains Campsite for the Canadian border.  The views leaving camp were overcast and while I certainly didn't see fifty mountains it was a nice open backdrop as I crossed below Cathedral Peak and decended into forested terrain down to Waterton Lake. 
 As I came into sight of the Goat Haunt Ranger Station and USA border checkpoint Sybille and her sister were there to greet me.  It was so great to see Sybille and Sabina and have them share my final day on the CDT.  They came over from Canada by ferry and Sybille joined me on the last 9-1/2 miles along Waterton Lake and across the US/Candian border to Waterton.  Sabina took the opportunity to do a hike over to the overlook and return by ferry to meet us in town.  
Celebrating at the border with some Whiskey and pictures with fine weather!  Check out the homemade custom Papa Smurf Triple Crown T-shirt I'm sporting!   What a surprise that was.  A great day to finish the CDT, complete the triple crown, and look forward to the start of the next of life's adventures. 


Mon, 16Sep - Ahern Pass and Sue Lake Lookout

Found a deer poking around my camp this morning so the animal mystery is solved.  A little rain last night and off and on this morning.  Made for a great double rainbow.  Almost made it to the edge of the rainbow and the pot of gold but it fadded out just before I found it.

The trail traverses around the cliffs of the divide and past Ahern Pass with great views.  Took the side hike to Sue Lake Lookout and it was fantastic.  A rocky narrow trail leads to a craggy outlook between the mountains where you walk out in a cliff looking straight down at the lake.  Glaciers and snow with mountains surrounded all around the lake and my overlook.  Very windy with dark clouds but a good view.  Dropped down to 50 Mountain Campsite early in the day and was able to make camp before the rain.  The sun returned and I was rewarded with views of the surrounding rocky peaks.

Hard to accept this is the last night on trail and the grand CDT adventure is nearing the end.

Sun, 15Sep - Swiftcurrent Pass and Fire Tower

Lazy start with two breakfasts, icecream and a hot shower before hitting the trail.  Lots of waterfalls and lakes including Fishercap, Redrock, Bullhead Lakes as you approach the steep narrow climb up the headwall to Swiftcurrent Pass right beside the waterfalls.  At the top of the pass you had a great view of all the lakes back down to Many Glaciers.

At the top of the pass I took a 2-1/2 mile side hike up to the top of Swiftcurrent Mountain Fire Tower with outstanding 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. Outstanding!

Next I headed down to check out the Granite Park Chalet Hut, one of only two remaining huts in the park.  Talked with two maintenance men who were shutting it down for the season.  

From here it was a short hike to Granite Park backcountry site for the night.  Shared camp with two other groups of two. Lots of animal sounds wandering around camp about 1am including beside my tent.  Deer or elk?

Sat, 14Sep - Piegan Pass and the Green Wall

Right out of camp this morning i hiked past Deadwood Falls with inviting pools and many pothole rock formations.  Next I passed through a tunnel under the Going to the Sun Road.

Climbing up to Piegan Pass the trail opened up to fantastic views as the trail traversed the side of the mountains and over the pass.  As you summited the pass I got my first view of the  fantastic Green Wall.  

Wonderful views hiking along the Green Wall and past lakes and waterfalls.  And lots of late season huckleberries.  Near Morning Star Falls I noticed a nice alternate route I could take out to Grinnell Lake.  The route took me past Feather Plume Falls, along Cataract Creek, and over several suspension bridges and lots of boardwalks to a sandy beach on the shore of Grinnell Lake.  Sitting in the sand enjoying my lunch with a view of the deep blue/turquoise lake, surrounded by mountains, and the mighty double waterfall feeding the lake from Grinnell glacier above.

Next a side trip over to Hidden Falls with an observation platform in a tight slot canyon overlooking the falls.  From here I rejoined the CDT after passing around Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake.  

Met up with Highlife, Sweet Fish, Love Note, Ninja, Drop n Roll & Burly White at Many Glaciers and enjoyed some beer, wine, pizza, and ice cream.

Fri, 13Sep - Saint Mary Lake and Virginia Falls

Last night around 9:30pm another solo hiker stumbled into camp in the dark.  He offered me a beer and we sat and watched as three large dark shapes moved noisily through the lakefront.  Moose?  The sounds and movement of large animals would continue all night.  

The young college age hiker had a wind-up flashlight and forgot his bear rope so I let him string his food with mine. Interesting character, and he brought beer!  

Waterfalls, cascades, potholes, and bridges highlighted today as the trail passed along the shoreline of Saint Mary Lake.  Virginia and St Mary Falls and the cascades between are really nice.  A couple of the group jumped from the cliffs near the bridge at St Mary Falls but I chickened out.

As I was hiking past the falls I stumbled across Gary and Cindy from the hiking club.  What a surprise!  We hiked back together to enjoy the falls and even got to briefly see a bear.

I hiked out to their car and we drove into town where Gary and Cindy sprung for some trail magic!  Loaded down with half a case of beer and snack food we had a evening trail magic at our camp at Reynolds Creek just past a suspension bridge and near a smooth rock ledge along the water. Thanks Gary and Cindy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thur, 12Sep - Triple Divide Pass and the Polar Bear Swim

The climb up to Triple Divide Pass had a  great view of Medicine Grizzle Lake framed by Razoredge Mountain and a fantastic waterfall flowing into the lake.  Reflections of the mountains were visible in the water as seen from my perch on the narrow hill hugging trail as I climbed to the top of the pass.

Great views of Razoredge Mtn, Triple Divide Peak, Norris Mtn, and Spilt Mountain from the pass.  The Triple Divide Pass gets its name because water splits three ways to the east, west, and also north-east to Hudson Bay.

Met up with the Ninja/Sweet fish/Love-note gang at the pass.
As we descended down we passed a small deep blue lake filled with ice just under Norris Mountain. We had a great time doing the polar swim jumping off the icebergs into the cold water.

Continuing down along Hudson Bay Creak I passed several waterfalls and climbed out on a side trail to the base of one of them.  At Red Eagle Creek there were two crossings complete with suspension bridges that swayed and creaked as you crossed.  The second one had fantastic pot holes and a deep blue pool under the bridge and I stopped to take another dip in the cold water and lay on the water smoothed potholes in the rocks.

Camping solo at the head of Red Eagle Lake where I have been watching a deer at the lake for the last half hour.  During the night I heard a lot of splashing and movement of large animals going in and out of the lake all night but it was to dark to see them.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wed, 11Sep - Dawson Pass and Mt Morgan

Wow, a five star day!  After picking up my permit and watching the bear video at the ranger station I had an enjoyable hike around Two Medicine Lake and up Bighorn Basin and past No Name Lake to Dawson Pass.  This is one of Leys recommended alternates.

The section from Dawson Pass, around the west side of Mount Morgan, and over to Cut Bank Pass is outstanding.  A narrow trail, with steep drop offs, and grand mountain views.  As you cross a ridge on the flank of Mt Morgan you can climb on the rocky outcroppings which hang over the steep head walls with all the mountains behind you.  Great lunch spot.

Dropping down of the ridge with great views of Oldman Lake, Lake of the Seven Winds, and Pitamakan Lake, I ran into Drop n roll, Ninja, Sweet Fish et al.  Joined them for second lunch.  

From here it was easy hiking past Morning Star Lake and a couple waterfalls to my campsite at Atlantic Creek.  Another group of five here so there are eleven of us in camp tonight.