[pct-l] Eating in East Glacier

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 21 18:53:34 CDT 2006

There are a few people who might be disappointed, but, to paraphrase Mark 
Twain - reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Our last update was from Ennis, MT - from there we went north through the 
Tobacco Root mountains.  Someone on cdt-l once said that the Tobacco Roots 
would be easy to bushwhack.  That could only be said by someone who 
roadwalked that section.  The maps lie - there's a 10,000' ridge if you 
actually hike the trails and jeep tracks through there - and the mileages on 
the maps need to be multipied by at least 50%.  But it was really beautiful 
country for those who have the incliination to explore them.

Our next stop was Whitehall, MT - a VERY small town with a good grocery and 
a really good cafe - where we celebrated Jim's birthday.  An 8-mile paved 
roadwalk led us back to the Forest and we eventually connected with the CDT 
again at Homestake Pass.  From there we hitched into Butte, rented a car and 
drove north to East Glacier Park.  We flipped north because of the early 
closings in Glacier National Park.  We got here just in time.  Among other 
things, fall has fell, with a vengeance.  Or maybe it was winter showing us 
what to expect over the next month or so.  We had snow, rain and cold 
weather all week - and even so we lucked out since the forecast was for 
around 18 inches total accumulation of snow, and it never got that bad, 
except in a few drifts.  We also saw that the Park really does close down 
mid-September.  We were a day ahead or a day behind a couple of the 
closings, including the Backcountry office at St. Mary's.  Two Medicine 
Ranger Station closed a week ago.

We took a shuttle to Chief Mountain, hiked south through the Belly River, 
through the Ptarmigan Tunnel into Swiftcurrent, then over Piegan Pass to 
Reynolds Creek.  Then came a long roadwalk into St Mary's because of the Red 
Eagle Lake fire which closed the Red Eagle trail and campsites.  The fire is 
still smoldering despite several days of rain and snow.  From St Mary's it's 
a 14 mile road walk on the highway to the Cut Bank road and another very 
muddy 6 miles to the Cut Bank campground where we were the sole guests that 
night.  Then it was over Pitamakin Pass, where we saw a lot of interesting 
tracks on the snowy trail - Mt sheep, mountain goats, elk, deer, wolf -- 
even some human tracks.  At one point on the approach to the pass, we saw a 
herd of mountain goats, and listened to at least 5 elk bugling - then one of 
the elk lost his nerve and ran across the trail in front of us - beautiful 
--- and BIG, with a trophy sized rack.  We saw a big male grizzly about a 
mile from Many Glacier - totally uninterested in us, as he was busy feeding 
about 100 yards above the trail.  We saw bighorn sheep and mountain goats 
near Piegan Pass as well, and a first for us - a mink that played hide and 
seek with us and the camera.  There were also moose and deer sightings, and 
lots of chipmunks, squirrels and hawks to enliven things.  The clouds and 
rain/snow did not entirely cover the beauty of Glacier's mountains - we got 
glimpses of beautiful peaks, deep valleys, turquoise lakes, and multitudes 
of waterfalls - it really is an incredible place.

We managed to meet a lot of the northbound hikers who finished up this week 
- Spur and Ready, Simply Seeking, Blister Sister, Packrat and Matt and 
Kalyn.  The only ones we didn't get to meet were Brewmaster and Adam, who 
were southbound ahead of us.  There were 11 of us in this section on the 
same day, and two others who finished two days before (Thermo and Five 
Galllon).  Of course, we still have 350 miles to go, but even so, that was a 
pretty concentrated bunch this year.

We'll take tomorrow off to rest, eat and reorganize, then we'll be heading 
south into the Bob Marshall.  That will be the most intense wilderness 
stretch since the San Juans - 11 days to Lincoln, MT without a break.  
Hopefully the weather will improve.  We haven't had a chance to check the 
forecast yet.  We're well stocked with orange garb, since hunting season has 
started there.  This time we won't have the wilderness to ourselves.  We 
nearly had Glacier to ourselves since almost all the casual campers bailed 
with the first snowstorm.  We only saw two groups of backpackers in seven 

We'll let you know how it goes when we get to Lincoln, if we can.

Walk softly,

Jim and Ginny


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