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A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 07/24/2012 15:54:20 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Bob Marshall maps on 07/24/2012 16:28:58 MDT Print View

Since I wrote this the excellent Cairno Cartographics maps of the Bob complex have gone into wide circulation. The south and north maps cover the whole area, have quite accurate trail miles, and are made of sturdy, waterproof paper. The old USFS paper map is now (finally) obsolete.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 07/24/2012 16:30:40 MDT Print View

Great article David. Nice pictures. Thanks.

Now that's an interesting idea, take Amtrak, start at East Glacier and hike to West Glacier.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Crown of the Continent on 07/25/2012 08:10:44 MDT Print View

That is a great introductory article on my favorite place. You've continued your legacy of fine writing and superb photos. But now I will have some more competition for my walk-in sites in a couple of weeks!

One question: You mentioned that Red Eagle was a nice campsite. Did it not get scorched during the 2006 fire? When I drove from Waterton to Choteau the day of that fire, I barely got through St. Mary before they closed the highway. It looked like the whole Red Eagle valley was involved, all the way to the lake and beyond.

And I should add the Cattle Baron as a good place to eat. It's on the main highway at the junction where you turn to go to Many Glacier. And the nearby Babb Motel has the cheapest lodging on the east side of the Park, with a great diner across the highway (Glacier's Edge Cafe).

Edit: the names of the 2 eateries had changed since I last was there--now corrected.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 08/24/2012 13:14:38 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Red Eagle on 07/25/2012 08:32:36 MDT Print View

The campground(s) side of Red Eagle Lake did get burned, and does have little shade. You can cool off in the lake, and the beargrass (early summer) and globemallow (later) more than make up for all the standing dead trees.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Red Eagle on 07/25/2012 08:54:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for confirming that, Dave. I was thinking that lake could be a good place to spend a couple of nights while I waited for other places to open up (and avoid motel expenses). You know, read books and chill. But, no shade...

And thanks again for the article, it was a good piece. I look forward to the next installments.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Red Eagle Campgrounds on 07/25/2012 09:00:58 MDT Print View

Red Eagle is quite nice (I was actually there two nights ago)--I'll be going back, hopefully as a longer trip from Two Medicine to Lake McDonald (though, the possibilities are almost endless--you could even link it to Kintla if you had the permits).

The fire burned almost to the head of the lake, but the campground at the head is just into the surviving forest. The wind was also quite wicked when I was there, and the foot of the lake offered far less protection. The campground at the foot is more scenic as you get much nicer views up the lake toward several iconic peaks. That said, I think I'd still go for the head if possible simply because the wind can be quite nasty and I prefer a better break.

Thanks to leaving a little late and waiting far too long for the park shuttle, I had the afternoon to chill in the campground. I had lots of nice shade to watch a bull moose feeding in the shallows.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 07/25/2012 09:34:57 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Red Eagle on 07/25/2012 10:10:47 MDT Print View

Thanks for that info, Clayton. It's great to have a couple of Glacier-savvy guys here. Sounds like the head of the lake might work for what I'm thinking of.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Red Eagle on 07/25/2012 10:32:33 MDT Print View

I'd spend most of my time in Glacier if I could. It's funny, but I just got back from doing one of Dave's recommended overnight trips yesterday, though I did it in reverse.

I had hoped to hike into Red Eagle early and then make it up to Triple Divide Pass before heading out via Virginia falls in the morning, but the inconsistent shuttle system and my own miscalculation/laziness to get up made that impossible before I even started. So I took it easy, taking lots of pictures and enjoying the wildflowers. There are some fantastic meadows between the 1913 Ranger Station and Red Eagle Creek. In fact, the whole section reminded me very much of hiking into the Belly River from Chief Mountain customs, minus the bugs: meadows interspersed between stands of trees, a large mountain dominating the confluence of two drainages (Red Eagle instead of Cosley Ridge), and fantastic wildflowers. It definitely gets less traffic than the Belly--which is ironic given that Red Eagle Lake is so much more accessible. But when you have campgrounds every few miles like you do in the Belly, and all of them low elevation, that's how it goes sometimes.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
the bar in east glacier on 07/25/2012 10:59:39 MDT Print View

Beautiful Pictures, and it really is at least that pretty.
... triple divide pass immensely. it's so totally fantastic, i camped up there on a north facing slope to the east of it.

note to single guys :

20 years ago the bar in east glacier, in early season, was for a variety of reasons, a "target rich environment".
i did not capitalize on the situation. but heck, on a rainy afternoon, a fellow just can't hardly go wrong there.

goodness but i love to trek.
peter v.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
glacier v bob on 07/25/2012 20:23:07 MDT Print View

nice article- thanks Dave Glacier is indeed one of the prettiest places there is (and very much worth exploring!), but I much prefer the solitude and lack of regulations of the Bob Complex

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 07/26/2012 02:41:27 MDT Print View

“You should come here and hike.”

“This article is meant to be both primer and inspiration…”

…don’t forget “and for you to come and stimulate my local economy.”


Your mountains look awesome.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 08/06/2012 20:01:17 MDT Print View

David, I didn't notice crampons on your list (I understand they are more for July or earlier) but I'd like to know what you use and with what shoe/boot.

And again, thank you for improving my vocabulary - I had to confirm a few words again this read.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: crampons on 08/06/2012 21:24:33 MDT Print View

I don't seek out snow climbing, so I always have on whatever trail runner I prefer at the moment. For those occasions when I bring actual crampons (Camp Magix 10s) I leave the more minimal shoes at home (e.g. Sportiva Crossleathers rather than X Countrys). The Camps strap to trail shoes great, but the sole needs a bit of structure to it to provide stability for the crampon and the keep the straps from tweaking your toes.

That said, I used my microspikes a lot this spring. They are comfy for miles on any shoe and lighter. A good combo for a trip with lots of dry walking, a fair amount of snow travel, but only a modest amount of steeper stuff is microspikes, soft shoes, and an ice axe with a real adze (to cut steps when necessary).

Just dayhiked Gunsight today, with almost no snow to be found. Axe got a free ride.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: re: crampons on 08/07/2012 12:44:24 MDT Print View

Thanks, David.
I use BD Compacts- they are basically the same design, and my toes also get somewhat crunched- I was hoping you had a solution that I hadn't known about.

BTW, I use the La Sportiva Wildcats, do you find the scree guard on the Crossleathers works (keeps stuff out better), and with the nubuck are they a less breathable then the XC's or other mess shoes?

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 08/10/2012 19:20:36 MDT Print View

Best advice in the article is your recommendation for walk-in permits and 20+ mile days. I can't think of a single weekend in my my two seasons living in the park when I was unable to secure an awesome trip.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 08/10/2012 20:30:26 MDT Print View

Great article and great timing. Headed up that way mid September for our anniversary and gonna shoot for walk in permits for a northern circle trip.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: shoes on 08/14/2012 18:05:27 MDT Print View

Tad, I find the weird lace guards on the Sportiva shoes totally useless. I cut them off. The (no longer made) Crossleathers are heavier and drain/dry much slower, but are tough and provide a nice buffer against scree and the like.

Brendan, email me. Would be great to meet you.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent on 08/14/2012 20:37:55 MDT Print View

Brendan, in Sept you should have no trouble getting what you want. I talked to a backcountry permit guy, and even Hole-in-the-Wall isn't booked out past the 15th, to say nothing of the walk-in availability.

Casey Greene

Locale: upper rattlesnake
condon on 08/24/2012 12:48:51 MDT Print View

Nice write-up Dave. Just one little correction: Unless they recently changed the name, it's the "Hungry Bear" Saloon and Restaurant near Condon, not "Happy Bear".