Sunday, November 23, 2008

Avalanche Lake in November 2008

Sunday November 23, 2008 I hiked to Avalanche Lake in Glacier Park.

The hiking group consisted of Patti, Gene, Leah, Deb, Fran and Pam. Five women and two men. This was the first time I had met Fran and this was the first time Pam had hiked with our group.

Avalanche Lake is an easy hike and one I have done a number of times. I hadn't been to Avalanche Lake yet this year, and never this late in the year, so I decided to go along. Sunday was chosen this week as Leah is a big Montana Grizzly football fan and the team plays on Saturdays.

We got a late start as we met in Columbia Falls at noon. At the Glacier Park entrance the sign said the ranger would be back in a few minutes and one could self pay. We have season park passes so we drove on. The ranger was hot footing it to the outhouse as we drove by.

We started the hiking under partly cloudy skies and a temperature in the mid 30s F. Leah, Deb and Pam all had ski poles to use as walking sticks. That helped them on the hike but one had to be careful when following them so as not to get struck by a pole. The trail was mostly bare until closer to the lake when a light layer of snow covered the trail. With all the traffic compacting the snow one had to be more careful not to slip.

There still were a dozen or so people out on the trail - far less than what I normally see on this popular trail.

Once we reached the lake Leah, Deb, Fran and Pam all found a bench to sit down on and got out their lunches. Patti had wandered off along the lake shore. I got Gene to join me in following her and then convinced Patti to walk to the head of the lake. None of the other women were interesting in doing so. As Patti, Gene and I had come in Patti's car it worked out as we could split into two groups. The others were long gone by the time we got back.

We all walked along the snow covered lake shore taking care not to slip on the rocks. At the far end of the lake shore was a small snowman. A nicely made snowman.

A short distance away were two men and three women standing and sitting on the far end of the lake shore on a section devoid of snow. In addition to some food the group had an empty bottle of wine and paper cups. Both Gene and I smelled the alcohol. Patti was too engrossed in photo taking and never noticed. One guy looked to be in his late 50s, the other guy in his mid 30s, and the women seemed to be in their mid 20s to mid 30s. They looked to be having a good time.

Patti, Gene and I walked the east end of the lake. The water level was lower than when I was last here with Brian and we were able to walk the entire east shore. That done I convinced Patti and Gene to go east of the lake. I wanted more views of the mountains and also to go where I had hiked with Brian when we saw the grizzly bear.

We followed a dry stream bed and not the abandoned trail. I was in the lead and followed deer tracks for the best path. Gene fell behind by the time Patti and I made our way through the low bushy trees to the open area where snow slides keep the vegetation clear. This area was under a large snow field when Brian and I were here. The snow field was gone.

The waterfalls on the mountains were all ice. A stream ran underneath our location and we decided to follow it up to where the mountain side got steeper in order to see more of an ice view.  We each broke through the ice one time and got one shoe slightly wet. It was neat to see the ice and water and hear it run. We were careful as our path was over rocks, snow and ice.

10 second video of the water running under the ice and snow.

Gene decided not to pass through the "field" of small bushy trees to join us and said he would go back to the lake to wait for us; and that was where we met him when we got done taking photos of the ice stream.

Our return journey was on the trail and that was easier than picking our way along the rocky snowy lake shore. No one was at the foot of the lake when we got there and we only met a two or three couples on our hike back to the parking lot a little after 4 pm. Only three other vehicles were left in the parking lot. A woman came over and asked us in an eastern European/Russian accent about the trail to Avalanche Lake and how snowy it was. After we assured her it was not bad she said she may hike it tomorrow.

Little traffic was on the road back out of the Park. We stopped at the Back Room Restaurant in Columbia Falls to have supper, which was very good.

Here are 20 more photos from the hike:


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Snyder Lake

November 6, 2008 I hiked to Snyder Lake in Glacier Park with Joyce, Sue Ann, and Bill. The trip totaled 8.8 miles. The elevation gain was 2,147 feet.

The trail starts at the Lake MacDonald parking lot. The trail is the one that goes to Sperry Chalet and beyond that, Gunsight Pass. First, there is a side trail to Mt Brown overlook (10 on map), then there is the side trail to Snyder Lake.

When we started, the trail was covered in dead tamarack needles. Then a little snow. Then more and more snow the higher we climbed.

By the time the Snyder Lake trail branched off from the Gunsight Pass trail we already had done a fair bit of climbing. Bill's foot was bothering him so he turned around and went back to Joyce's car. Joyce, Sue Ann and I continued on.

The day was beautiful: a severely clear blue sky and no wind. The temperature was in the 30s and it was great to be out in a winter mountain wonderland.

At Snyder Lake was a wooden rail for people to tie their livestock. We had to go across a small bridge to reach the camping area. We looked about for the place to access the lake but didn't really find any. We wandered about before deciding to stop at a small area along the lake. Maybe without all the snow there would have been a better area to sit and have have lunch and enjoy the lake view. With all the snow we had to eat our lunch standing up. Joyce munched on some snow on a small tree's branches.

While the creek was free of ice...

...the lake was iced over and had snow covering the ice. It was very beautiful.

It started to cloud up on our walk back to the car.

A view of Lake McDonald as we hiked back.

In August 2008 a person on a solo backpacking trip went missing in Glacier and, even after an extension search of the back country, he was never found. There are still posters up.