Glacier Nat'l Park - August - "off trail" adventures

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
326
Trip Reports
9
Likes
1,533
Thread starter #1
The idea for this trip arose in early 2015. @Jeffrey Chandler piled these off trail trek ideas on me. I did everything not to say yes. "There are 734 miles of trail", blah blah, "I have a 30 year contract with the bears. I stay on the trails and I holler and they leave me alone", blah blah, "a coworker got eaten by a bear because he went off trail". In other words he was taking me out of my comfort zone. I pacified him in 2015 by climbing Mt. Oberlin.

Jump ahead to early 2016. Jeff starts hounding me to backpack in Glacier. Personally I do not have enough desire to do that to put out the financial costs. He had the desire to solo backpack. 15 years old with next to no experience......in Glacier.....with grizzlies. I could have said no but that would have been too easy. In June we dropped into the backcountry office so that they would tell him that they would not give him a permit because of his age. On the advance reservation site you need to be 18 so I felt that this was a done deal for me. They drug out a supervisor and he said that as long as a parent was with him in the office they would issue him a permit. Shit!

In July I turned to Jeff and said "remember all that angst and anxiety you gave me last year with your off trail stuff? Now you are giving me a new level of angst and anxiety and we have not even experienced last years crap yet." With all the Zion Nat'l Park adventures I have had the past 2 years I had gotten a lot more comfortable with the off trail idea. So as a compromise the backpacking was tabled for 2016 and we focused on off trail! What a wonderful idea. Sure beat....saying no to him repeatedly.

Our adventures took us on goat, social, mountaineering and abandoned trails.

Day One took us Snow Moon Basin. This route is used by those who choose to climb Mt. Allen. This picture shows everything but the initial trudge thru the forest and up "Dread Scree Stroll". We went across the slope/cliffs right to left, up to the basin, then up to the ridgeline on the left. Stopping below the start of the Class 4 cliff climb.
IMG_7449.JPG


View up towards Mt. Gould and Grinnell Point
IMG_7452.JPG


@Jeffrey Chandler with our starting point, Many Glacier Hotel, in the background. Jumping ahead a bit. See the valley in the middle? The bench on the left side? That is Shangri-La where we go on Day 2
IMG_7479.JPG


There was a bit of exposure getting across this face. But nothing sucking you down into it.
IMG_7484.JPG


We make a 180 turn at the shoulder and head up to the basin. The "trail" hugs the base of the cliffs with a great scree drop on the left. Schwab Falls
IMG_7489.JPG


Falling Leaf Lake
IMG_7498.JPG
IMG_7505.JPG


Nature's Infinity Pool
IMG_7513.JPG


Snow Moon Lake
IMG_7516.JPG


Short stream/falls between Falling Leaf and Snow Moon Lakes
IMG_7518.JPG


We cross the stream and have to make our way up the far slope. Avoiding the gnarly krumholz and brush as best we could. Unbeknownst to us, what we see is maybe half of what there was.
IMG_7520.JPG
IMG_7528.JPG


Just a lonnnng trudge. One step at a time.
IMG_7534a.JPG


A pretty nice lunch spot. Hunkering down in the wind and looking at the mountains in the North.
IMG_7536.JPG
IMG_7537.JPG


See that basin? That is where we go on Day Three
IMG_7540.JPG


After a 3,000 foot climb from the parking lot we finally hit the ridge. Looking down onto the Cracker Lake Trail
IMG_7549.JPG


Hoping to see as much of Cracker Lake as possible I asked Jeff, "can we go just a little bit higher?"
IMG_7553.JPG


Cracker Lake and 10,010 Mt. Siyeh towering 4,000 over the lake. Cracker Lake owes it unique color to Siyeh Glacier
IMG_7556.JPG
IMG_7557.JPG


I literally shouted "look where my son got me!!!!" We decided to take a more direct route down. We found that we could walk across the top of a mat of brush easily and benignly. Shortly after leaving the ridge I here an exclamation from behind me. Jeff had been blown over by the wind and had cut his hand on the rocks.
IMG_7565.JPG


Snow Moon and Falling Leaf Lakes
IMG_7573.JPG
IMG_7580.JPG
IMG_7587.JPG


Upon arriving back at the slope/cliffs we reminded each other that we REALLY needed to be careful. Rubbery legs were going to make this trip more interesting.
IMG_7603.JPG


Lake Sherbourne
IMG_7606.JPG
IMG_7607.JPG


To some this controlled fall down to the forest could probably be done in a couple minutes. It took us quite a bit longer. I swear that downhiller phobia is a true mental state. We sat down for dinner at the cabin at 10:00PM. We know how to fill a day.
IMG_7613.JPG


Day Two - The social trail takes off for Shangri-La
IMG_7623.JPG


We have quite the elevation gain getting to the cliff face. THEN we need to get up the thing!
IMG_7633.JPG


Initial crease to enter the climb.
IMG_7643a.JPG


Guess where we go?
IMG_7648.JPG


A bit of exposure. Enough people do this so if you are paying attention the route is nice to follow.
IMG_7655.JPG
IMG_7657b.JPG


This could have been more dramatic if I had only followed thru on the thought to motion Jeff out to the point.
IMG_7672.JPG


At the top of the cliffs we found a massive area plowed by a grizzly evidently going after a rodent. (Didn't get the shot.) The trip to the lake was INCREDIBLE with waterfalls and wildflowers. I was in Heaven.
IMG_7688.JPG
IMG_7693.JPG
IMG_7697.JPG
IMG_7701.JPG
IMG_7706.JPG
IMG_7710.JPG


Shangri-La Lake
IMG_7716.JPG
IMG_7721.JPG
IMG_7743.JPG
IMG_7746.JPG


As Ptarmingan Wall came into view my stomach started tightening out of anticipation of what was coming.
IMG_7749.JPG


Holy Sheeit.
IMG_7756.JPG


It took us 1 hour and 10 minutes to get down to Iceberg Lake. We hugged the brush as much as possible so that we could have something to arrest our fall, if need be. Had to take some flower shots to keep inner peace.
img_7758a.JPG
IMG_7764.JPG
IMG_7765.JPG
IMG_7769.JPG
IMG_7777.JPG


A couple times during the day Jeff had mentioned "Power Walking" out the Iceberg Lake trail. I would say "can't we just walk." After the terrain of these two days it really did feel like Power Walking out to the car. This picture looks back to the ridgeline where we were on Day One. The middle sliver of ridge (not foreground). The foreground left was the slope/cliff we traversed.
IMG_7794.JPG
IMG_7804.JPG


Day Three comes with a story. In 1987 I was the Relief Night Auditor at the lodges. The "Rover". I gave the location Night Auditors their day off. The lodge managers looked at me as the Controller's spy. Which I guess I was. On July 27th I received a phone call from the manage of Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Their Night Auditor Gary Groeden had not come into work. After my shift was over I got over to Swiftcurrent to take care of the business end of things while the young Pakistani manager dealt with the missing Gary. Having talked to Gary many times about hiking in Glacier I was part of the whirlwind of "where is Gary?" He never talked about going off trail so I was holding out for him getting pissed at something and simply taking off back to Wisconsin. Six weeks later what was left of Gary was found cached in the brush near Natahki Lake in the Apikuny Basin. I struggled with Gary's death for close to 20 years. Why......and how did he get up there? You just don't walk into that Basin. Well, Jeff and I followed in the footsteps of my coworker and friend Gary. We follow the mile trail to Apikuny Falls then up the abandoned mountain trail to the basin.
IMG_7808.JPG


Looking back towards Day One terrain.
IMG_7818.JPG


It was a beautiful open basin with short trees and red rock. Waterfalls come down from the Upper Basin where Natahki Lake is situated.
IMG_7825.JPG
IMG_7826.JPG
IMG_7828.JPG


We saw a couple large families of Grouse.
IMG_7839.JPG


We studied the slope up to Natahki Lake for quite awhile. Maybe we could see how to get thru the rocks/cliffs. Maybe we could get up the "path" that looked like a white line painted on a wall. Maybe we could get to Natahki Lake. BUT we would then have to get back down. What we came to realize was that Gary having a horrible bear encounter was the most pleasant experience he could have had. To have injured himself in a fall and laying until the bear came along was much more likely to have happened. As Jeff mentioned as we were deciding to turn around. The is "a lot of Spirit Energy here". Salute Gary!
IMG_7850.JPG
img_7850a.JPG
IMG_7866.JPG


See the abandon trail going up this cliff? Neither do I. Coming down was only slightly a controlled fall. Apikuni Falls
IMG_7883.JPG
IMG_7886.JPG


Day Four was affected by the accumulation of three days of hiking and time constraints.
Lake McDonald.
IMG_7899.JPG


The initial plan was to go up Lunch Creek. A 2,000 ft. climb/trudge up this face to the saddle above. Then down to Piegan Pass, then over to Siyeh Pass and out to the road to take a Shuttle back to Logan Pass. The last shuttle comes thru at 6:30. It would have taken us a long time to get up to the saddle so we would have stressed about the shuttle most of the day. So we took a step back and did the Siyeh Pass trail.
IMG_7906.JPG
IMG_7907.JPG


This trail is renown for its wildflowers. We hit the season pretty well.
IMG_7917.JPG
IMG_7919.JPG
IMG_7921.JPG
IMG_7925.JPG
IMG_7926.JPG


These next two shots were found 3 feet from each other.
IMG_7931.JPG
IMG_7932.JPG
IMG_7933.JPG
IMG_7940.JPG
IMG_7944.JPG
IMG_7951.JPG


I want to point out the little ground squirrel in the bottom of the shot. Mt. Reynold's in the background.
IMG_7953.JPG


Piegan Mountain and Glacier
IMG_7958.JPG
IMG_7961.JPG


Jeff approaching Siyeh Pass
IMG_7965.JPG


Boulder Creek. There is no official access to this area.
IMG_7970.JPG
IMG_7977.JPG


Sexton Glacier
IMG_7980.JPG
IMG_7994.JPG


I could have cried when I saw what the 2015 Reynold's Creek fire did to the trees up here in Baring Creek. You can see from the stumps that these were not boring tall straight trees. They were the low to the ground, windswept kind. Tragic loss.
IMG_8002.JPG
IMG_8017.JPG


Day Five weather came in. We drove up to Logan Pass and sat in the car for a couple hours. Watching people and the weather.
IMG_8028.JPG


Sixth and final day. I discovered this route in 2012 while on a trip alone. In 2014 I took @Scott Chandler and my friend Kurt (Glacier co-worker from 1985) and @Jeffrey Chandler out to the nameless ridge. But two years ago Jeff refused to go across the cliff line so we had left him on the Dragon's Tail Saddle. He wanted to redeem himself and go all the way in 2016. We had a great inversion/fog in the drive up to Logan Pass.
IMG_8037.JPG


The initial goal is yonder saddle.
IMG_8041.JPG
IMG_8047.JPG


Looking down to Hidden Lake.
IMG_8056.JPG


West of the saddle that stopped Jeff two years ago.
IMG_8061.JPG
IMG_8065.JPG
IMG_8066.JPG


We walked the ridge until it cliffed out.
img_8068a.JPG


Blackfoot and Jackson Glacier Basin
IMG_8075.JPG
IMG_8084.JPG


Huge cornice on Gunsight Mtn.
IMG_8089.JPG


Looking north. Mt. Cleveland on the far left. Probably 20 miles away.
IMG_8092.JPG


Garden Wall
IMG_8093.JPG


A nasty perspective of the Lunch Creek climb that we did not do on Day Four.
IMG_8094.JPG


A look over towards Siyeh Pass and Going to the Sun Mtn.
IMG_8107.JPG


Mt. Reynold's
IMG_8113.JPG


Twin Lakes. This basin is the source of Florence Falls which you saw in my June trip report.
IMG_8114.JPG
IMG_8120.JPG


We start the long trek back.
IMG_8122.JPG
IMG_8131.JPG
IMG_8138.JPG
IMG_8141.JPG
IMG_8147.JPG


Almost back to the Hidden Lake Trail and horde of tourist we literally stumbled on to this fellow.
IMG_8148.JPG
IMG_8155.JPG


Our day took us up and over the saddles on the high left and middle.
IMG_8156.JPG


We didn't have huge miles for the week but we had massive elevation gain over varied terrain. I am very grateful that Jeff got me out of my comfort zone. I suppose what I need to do now is try to find some backpacking gear for $100.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 31, 2015
Messages
212
Trip Reports
1
Likes
286
#3
Yup, I am quite lucky to have him and he is lucky to have me (maybe not). Jake Bramante has equated our relationship as I am the kite and he is the string, but sometimes a gust of wind picks up just fast enough to pull the string along.

One thing that is interesting is only five years ago I had what we now infamously call "the psychotic year" where I was pushed just a little bit more than normal and my sheltered brain freaked out. Now I am probably more insane than my dad all because I have truly found that I love hiking and exploring this park. I feel the reputation of climbing in Glacier needs to be better and I will try my best to convey that to people I know.

P.S. the rocks there are sharp, that cut really sucked and I wasn't even expecting the wind to be that bad;)
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2013
Messages
134
Trip Reports
21
Likes
486
#5
Wow! Your photos are stunning. It looks like the trip of a lifetime for many people, but I'm sure you two will do something just as amazing next time out!
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
.
Joined
May 5, 2012
Messages
1,632
Trip Reports
57
Likes
3,199
#6
Just had my first taste of Glacier in July and I'm hooked. Thanks for all the great perspectives on less-visited areas. That elevation grinding day after day must have been brutal.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
81
Trip Reports
15
Likes
482
#8
very nice !
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
326
Trip Reports
9
Likes
1,533
Thread starter #9
Just had my first taste of Glacier in July and I'm hooked. Thanks for all the great perspectives on less-visited areas. That elevation grinding day after day must have been brutal.
While the week progresses on us we acknowledge how these days "accumulate" on us. It has been very gratifying when my boys finally reached an age were they proactively climb into the car the next morning to tackle that days adventure. But I have sort of created a monster with Jeff and he will be pushing me until he moves on in @Scott Chandler footsteps. We joke around that when that day comes I can do the few boring forest trails that I have yet to do. But there are huckleberries on those trails in August so that is a reasonable tradeoff. Plus the opportunity for creative photography. There is no bad hike in Glacier.
 
Last edited:

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Messages
868
Trip Reports
37
Likes
2,151
#10
Awesome! When were you guys there?

Jeff when your old enough, and if your dad will let you, you're welcome to tag along on some of my off trail backpacks up there. I've got plenty planned. Not too many people have the gusto to go. You definitely do. :)
 
Joined
Aug 31, 2015
Messages
212
Trip Reports
1
Likes
286
#11
@Joey we were up there from July 29th to August 4th

I would gladly do a trip with you sometime in the future, i just need some income so I can not feel like a boon to everyone I know, a little bit more experience and fitness, and then better gear that can actually hold weeks of food and gear in bear country (instead of my glorified climbers pack that i converted to a 4/5 day-ish pack that kills my back upon occasion)
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
326
Trip Reports
9
Likes
1,533
Thread starter #12
Awesome! When were you guys there?

Jeff when your old enough, and if your dad will let you, you're welcome to tag along on some of my off trail backpacks up there. I've got plenty planned. Not too many people have the gusto to go. You definitely do. :)
We had half an eye looking for your van during our week. I even thought about driving down to Packer's Roost to see if it was parked there but for whatever reasons, didn't.
 

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Messages
868
Trip Reports
37
Likes
2,151
#13
We had half an eye looking for your van during our week. I even thought about driving down to Packer's Roost to see if it was parked there but for whatever reasons, didn't.
Ha, yep my van was there. When did you guys go up Shan gri la?
Hiked in to Many Glacier on August 1st I think, coming in from Poia. Sat on the Swiftcurrent front porch for several hours that evening, think it was a Sunday. Hiked up Swift Pass on August 2nd. So we must have been close.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
326
Trip Reports
9
Likes
1,533
Thread starter #14
Ha, yep my van was there. When did you guys go up Shan gri la?
Hiked in to Many Glacier on August 1st I think, coming in from Poia. Sat on the Swiftcurrent front porch for several hours that evening, think it was a Sunday. Hiked up Swift Pass on August 2nd. So we must have been close.
We did Shangri-La on Sunday the 31st then Apikuny Basin on the 1st. Jeff spent some time on the Swiftcurrent porch on the afternoon of the 1st. He talked to some biker from Paraguay. I had to drop him off so he could get to the bathroom and check out in the camp store if a particular red berry was NOT edible. (Turned out to be Nightshade). I had to drive around because there was NO place to park. Absolutely crazy packed.
 

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Messages
868
Trip Reports
37
Likes
2,151
#15
We did Shangri-La on Sunday the 31st then Apikuny Basin on the 1st. Jeff spent some time on the Swiftcurrent porch on the afternoon of the 1st. He talked to some biker from Paraguay. I had to drop him off so he could get to the bathroom and check out in the camp store if a particular red berry was NOT edible. (Turned out to be Nightshade). I had to drive around because there was NO place to park. Absolutely crazy packed.
I'm almost certain we got there on the 1st. Had a spot in the campground through the backcountry permits system. Must have just missed you guys. Crazy. And yes it was super busy!
 

kwc

Member
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2016
Messages
138
Trip Reports
19
Likes
600
#16
wow. awesome photos ... quite the adventure. Thanks for sharing!! (and you guys are killing this east coast guy with these photos & trip reports ... I really really really need to head out that way in another year or so)
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
326
Trip Reports
9
Likes
1,533
Thread starter #18
we will be in Glacier doing some offtrail in a month.
we plan to go to falling leaf lake but wonder how difficult it would be to scramble down to the cracker lake trail?
When we did this we met a group that had come up from the Cracker Lake Trail but didn't get any report from them. In a couple weeks we plan on going to Falling Leaf again and we are thinking about taking the drop down to the trail also. The upper end is simple trudging threw a rock field. I know that is an acceptable route to Mt. Allen so I assume that route finding wouldn't be impossible.
 

Volbike

New Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2018
Messages
4
Likes
4
#19
Great, thanks. look forward to hearing about your experience. Will you have a gps track?
We are planning to do Floral Park the first day then Falling Leaf then a 24 mile hike, back pack stony indian and then come back and do Mt altyn.
Hope we can find the routes up the cliff faces. We are mtn climbers but very experienced off trail enthusiasts.
 

Volbike

New Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2018
Messages
4
Likes
4
#20
Hi, we are leaving in a week. Did you make the descent to Cracker Lake? do you have a gps.
I am a bit dyslexic and I meant to say we are not mountain climbers and have limited experience in rock climbing so we don't want to get stuck in a dead end if we can help it.
thanks
volbike
 

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top