Friday, October 14, 2022

Day 158: The Amtrak Disaster

September 25: My train back to Seattle didn't leave until about 6:30 in the evening, so I had all day to relax and goof around in East Glacier. I noticed a few changes since my last visit less than a week earlier. For instance, Brownies had been completely boarded up. The store had closed for the season the last time I was there, but the building hadn't been boarded up--not like it was now.

Additional businesses had closed as well. I tried to drop into the Glacier Park Lodge, but it was now closed for the season. I was glad I made my visit the last time I was in town. I hadn't realized it would be closed by the time I returned to town again.

Lots of drama at the East Glacier train station this evening!

Much of the day I spent just chatting with other thru-hikers. A large group of about a dozen people had just arrived and were working to get permits through the park. One person I was surprised to see was Money. I didn't understand how he had fallen so far behind me until he bragged that he had taken something like 50 or 60 zero days on the trail. He seemed determined to set a record for the most zero days ever taken on the CDT by a thru-hiker.

About an hour before the train was scheduled to arrived, I picked up all my worldly possessions and said goodbye to everyone, then headed over to the train station.

There were a few others there, and we sat around waiting. The animated screen showing train schedules showed that our train was scheduled to arrive about an hour late. I wasn't particularly surprised about this since Amtrak is notorious for running late--especially on these long-distance trains. This train we'd be boarding was the Empire Builder, and it started in Chicago, taking two days before arriving in Seattle.

While waiting for the train, one of the other passengers noticed a fox by the train station, so we all got up to admire the fox. I was surprised it was out in the open and didn't seem to mind the crowd of us watching it. It was my first really good look a fox in the "wild"--if outside of the train station could really be considered wild.

Eventually the fox wandered off, and we continued to wait for the train. I chatted with one of the other thru-hikers who was also scheduled to ride the train. Then a guy showed up saying that he heard that there had been an Amtrak train that derailed. He didn't provide any details, though. Just that one had derailed. Somewhere.

There are Amtrak trains all over the country, though. I didn't know exactly how many, but even if the rumor were true, it seemed unlikely it would be our train. Anyhow, our train was still scheduled to arrive at 7:30 or so according to the signage at the train station. The train station didn't have an Amtrak worker there to check people in or anything, though, so there was no one to ask about anything.

It was about 10 minutes later when someone checking their phone found a news article about an Amtrak train that derailed in Montana not too long ago, and that there were at least three fatalities.

Hmm.... I was pretty sure that there couldn't be more than about two Amtrak trains in Montana today. The only Amtrak route that went through Montana was the Empire Builder, and one train passed through in each direction. At this point, I thought there was a better than 50/50 chance our train had derailed. The morning train going eastbound had gone through town hours earlier, but I wasn't sure if it would have been out of the state yet.

At this point, everyone at the train station became immensely interested in this train derailment, myself included. I pulled out my own phone to see what I could find out about it online, at which point I noticed a voicemail from my sister.

She had left a message asking if I was alright. She had heard on the news about a train derailment in Montana and knew I had been planning to take the train that evening. I called her back immediately and told her I was fine--not even on a train as of yet, and that we were still trying to figure out if it was our train that had actually derailed. If it derailed and there were three fatalities, I was very confident in predicting that our train would be canceled--we just hadn't heard anything yet.

I gave my mom a call to let her know I was fine. I didn't think she had heard about the train derailment yet. If she had, she probably would have called already, but I called her to let her know that I was fine just in case she did hear about it later. No reason for her to worry unnecessarily.

I also gave Amanda a call. Amanda answered the phone immediately. "Hi, how's it going?" she asked.

"Well..." I said, not really sure where to start, "I think my train derailed?"


"Yeah, I think my train derailed. I'm not 100% certain of the fact, but it seems likely." I went on to explain the situation. "Anyhow, I just wanted to give you a head's up, just in case you happened to hear about it."

"Do you need a ride?" she asked me. She was with friends at a concert in the Seattle area. 

"Maybe," I told her, but said to hang off for the moment. I still wasn't sure what all was happening and needed to learn more. Maybe I'd just spend the night at the hostel and catch the train tomorrow instead.

We hung up, but I promised to keep in touch with updates. She had a friend who works as an engineer on Amtrak and sometimes works this route and said she'd try to call him about updates as well. And make sure he wasn't actually on the train, which was a possibility.

It didn't take long before we found a news article saying that it was the westbound train that had derailed. It was my train. I was literally at the train station waiting for that train to arrive, but at this point, I knew it never would. The board marking train arrivals continued to say that the train was delayed until 7:30 or so.

Most of the passengers wandered off by around this point. I decided to wait until about 7:30 and see what happened. Although there were no employees working at this station now, maybe one of them would get a call to come out and help all the stranded passengers. Maybe they were making arrangements to have a bus come by and pick us up. I was curious what would happen with the digital sign when the supposed time that the train would arrive never arrived.

I did call Will and Luna at the hostel to let them know that I'd likely be returning for an extra night. When I called, Will answered the phone, and when I told him it was Green Tortuga, he asked, "So, are you spending another night? I heard about the train derailment."

They had already figured out that I'd probably be returning to the hostel even before I called. I confirmed the situation but said I'd hang out until 7:30pm to see if anything happened.

While waiting, we continued to look for updates about the train derailment. Apparently, it happened only a few hours before it was scheduled to arrive at this station. And the most recent news reports we read said that there were at least 10 fatalities. It was bad.... But those counts seemed to be wrong. In subsequent days, only 3 fatalities were listed. Dozens went to the hospital.

I was grateful that I wasn't on the train when the train derailed, but it certainly caused some trouble for me. The other thru-hiker there tried calling the Amtrak customer service number about changing his ticket, but after being on hold for about 45 minutes, it disconnected when his phone ran out of power. Perhaps they were busy with news of the train derailment. They might be bombarded with thousands of calls from family of passengers--as well as passengers like us that now needed to make other plans. Plus all the other passengers at all the other stops the train would have made.

When 7:30 finally arrived, our train disappeared from the digital arrivals board. I joked with the others around me, "Did you see the train go by? I totally missed it!"

Almost immediately, my phone rang. It was an automated message from Amtrak explaining that there was a "service disruption" and that due to our remote location, there were no buses or anything available and that our train was canceled. They provided a phone number to call about questions or to reschedule, but it was the same number that the other thru-hiker had been on for 45 minutes before being disconnected, so I didn't put much stock in that for the moment.

I finally gave up waiting and headed back to the hostel for the night. The large group of 12 people who had arrived made a communal dinner, and after hearing that I'd likely be returning for the night, saved a little extra for me. That was nice. =) 

Back at the hostel, I tried rebooking new tickets for tomorrow night, but the Amtrak website wasn't showing any trains at all running through town, in either direction. And I checked the next several days, and no trains at all were now scheduled to run. That was ominous. I was basically stranded in East Glacier for an unknown period of time. I could try hitchhiking, but that's a long way to hitchhike back to Seattle.

I gave Amanda another call and told her the situation. "Think you can give me a ride after all?"

She said she had already thrown some stuff in the car when she got home from her concert and was prepared to drive out, just in case, and would be on her way. According to Google, she should arrive sometime tomorrow, Glacier NP was a 9 hour drive from Seattle non-stop.

And with that, my day finally ended. I spent an extra night in East Glacier.

The next day, I ran into Just Awesome who had just finished the trail that afternoon. He shook my hand, congratulated me on completing the Triple Crown, then said, "You got me! You totally got me!"

I was a little confused about what he was talking about at first, then he explained. "Those four girls you met... you told them to pretend like they had met me on the PCT. They did! And I totally believed them! I was scratching my head, trying to remember where I had seen them on the PCT, then they finally let me off the hook and told me that YOU put them up to it!"

I laughed. Yes, yes I did. =)

"So why are you still in town? I figured you would already be home by now?"

"I tried to leave," I told him, "but my train derailed." Being on the trail, he hadn't heard anything about the train derailment and I filled him in. 

It seemed to be the headline news across the country. The news even made it to Poland. I had sent a postcard to one of my Polish teachers saying that I planned to take the train home when I finished the trail, and after hearing about the train derailment, he sent me an email asking if I was okay. I don't think he had been especially concerned.... at the time I sent the postcard, I had no way of knowing exactly when I'd finish the trail or precisely what day I'd be taking the train, but he noticed that the timing was right and thought he'd drop me a message... just in case. But that's how I found out the incident had made it into the Polish news.

Anyhow, Amanda arrived later in the day after driving the 9 hours overnight and I finally had a way out of East Glacier.

We drove nearly non-stop back to Seattle. We stopped briefly to pick up one guy on a bicycle. I had met him at the hostel, actually, and he left earlier that morning riding toward West Glacier, but the wind was fierce and he decided he had had enough. So we piled him and his bike into the back seat and took him the rest of the way to West Glacier. We stopped for dinner, and for gas at a couple of places. 

It was after midnight when we arrived back in Seattle, and my hike was now officially done. I never imagined that just getting off the trail would have turned out to be an adventure in itself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Day 157: The End of the CDT....

September 24: I slept in a bit late this morning mostly because I had such a short day of hiking, I was in no particular rush.

The day's hiking was relatively flat and easy compared to the last few days. No major passes to cross over or anything like that.

This is the common area of the campsite with the bear boxes on the left.

A couple of hours into the day's hike, I reached the junction with the Pacific Northwest Trail which was a particularly special moment for me. Upon reaching this junction, I had connected my steps with the PNT, which connected with my steps from the PCT, which connected my steps all the way back to Mexico. Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico again. It's a huge distance, and I've covered it all, on foot, under my own power.

I still had to hike a couple of more hours to reach the Chief Mountain trailhead and the official alternate end of the CDT. Typically, thru-hikers have used this terminus when the snow is bad or there was some other issue about getting into Canada along the main route, but this year, almost everyone started or finished here just because of the COVID restrictions that didn't allow us to go into Canada.

There's a small parking lot at the trailhead, but I continued beyond that. I needed to touch the Canadian border. This was a border-to-border trail, and I wanted to step right up to the Canadian border to make it official.

This trailhead not only marks the end of the CDT, but also the beginning of the PNT. I like that the PNT marker is about 4 times bigger than the CDT marker. (I feel like the CDT marker deserved to be smaller since it's just an "alternate end" to the trail rather than the "main end", but this IS the official beginning of the PNT.)

At the trailhead, I found another thru-hiker named Chimney, who told me that he had actually arrived late yesterday afternoon and after several hours of trying to hitch a ride without success, wound up spending the night at the trailhead, and--so far--had been unable to get a ride back to town today either. Several cars full of hikers had arrived at the trailhead this morning, but so far, nobody had left it. Additionally, since the border crossing was closed due to COVID, there was no through traffic. The only possibility for rides were from people who drove out to this trailhead and just this trailhead. 

It sounded like I might be here awhile before I got a ride out. I knew that was a possibility, though, and made sure to carry plenty of food so I could spend the night at the trailhead if I had to. I didn't want to, though. My hike was done!

Anyhow, I walked out onto the main road, where I found two older women looking over the border into Canada, standing next to a line of orange construction cones preventing vehicles from driving over.

The building on the left is on the US side of the border. The building further out on the right side of the road is the Canadian customs and immigration building. And the border is somewhere between the two. Clearly, vehicles were not meant to cross the orange cones, but I didn't let them stop me from walking past them!

Normally, this border crossing would be open for vehicles, but again, because of COVID, this particular crossing was closed.

I walked up to the ladies and asked if the cones were the furthest we could legally walk, but they weren't sure. They seemed scared to continue past them, however. Looking around, I didn't actually see any sort of signage that prevented people from walking through the cones to the border, so I plowed through the cones and continued onward.

I passed the building where the US customs and immigration officers usually worked from. It was empty and closed, but I saw cameras around it. I felt certain that I was being watched, but I didn't think anyone would care if I just walked up to the border, touched it, and walked back, so I kept going. For all I knew, however, there could have been a team of border patrol sent out to tackle me, but they had to get here first.

I could see the structure that the Canadian border agents used, so the US-Canadian border obviously was somewhere between the two buildings, and I wondered how I'd recognize exactly where it was. What would happen if I accidentally walked too far into Canada?

As I got closer to the Canadian building, however, I noticed the distinctive border marker on the side of the road. That was the Canadian border. In fact, I could even see where the road changed to a slightly different shade of black, then also another border monument on the other side of the road.

I pose at the border monument, the newest person to join the Triple Crown Club. =)

I took lots of selfies of myself and some videos, and when I looked back, I noticed the two women who had been standing by the cones approaching me. I guess when no border agents jumped out of the bushes to arrest me, they felt it was safe enough to walk to the border themselves.

Which worked out well for me since it meant that I could get them to take photos of me at the border and didn't have to rely on selfies. If only I had my tiara, though. *sigh* The tiara would have been perfect for this moment. I was officially the newest member of the the Triple Crown club. =)

While I was goofing around at the border, Chimney suddenly scored a ride from some hikers just returning to the trailhead. And while chatting with the two women at the border monument and telling them that I needed to hitch a ride back to town, they offered me a ride!

I must be good luck. The minute I showed up, both Chimney and I got rides--and from different people no less! At least I wouldn't be spending the night at the trailhead like Chimney did

My ride only went as far as St. Mary's, however, so they dropped me off on the side of the road and I walked out to the road leading out of town to start hitching the rest of the way to East Glacier. As I arrived, I saw Chimney come out of the nearby store and head toward me. Looks like we were both trying to hitch to East Glacier together now.

Our luck held, however. Well, my luck held. Chimney had been trying to hitch since yesterday afternoon. I'm the one that got a ride in less than 5 minutes! Chimney was clearly black and I wondered if that made it easier for me to get a ride, but its entirely possible it could have just been rotten timing on his part.

In any case, within 60 seconds of my sticking out my thumb, a vehicle pulled over and we were offered a ride. Sweet! That was much easier and faster than I had any right to expect! =)

This is the view toward Glacier NP during the drive back to East Glacier.

Originally, I had assumed I might be sitting around the Chief Mountain trailhead for potentially hours and my plan was to eat lunch there. I never got a chance, however, nor did I get a chance to even eat a snack in St. Marys before we got a ride. I was getting pretty hungry. By the time we arrived in East Glacier, I was positively starving!

But before I could eat, I rushed over to the post office. They had a laptop with my name on it, and now I was in town to enjoy it! I was a little stunned that I made it to town before they closed--I didn't think there was a chance of that happening, but my rides came so darned fast! So I rushed down to the post office, arriving about 15 minutes before they were scheduled to close, and asked for my package.

But it wasn't there. WHAT?! Where the hell was it?! I had called the Butte post office nearly two weeks ago now. I asked the desk clerk if she could check where it was. I had the tracking number in my wallet and pulled it out. She came back telling me that it was still in Butte.

What the heck is it still doing in Butte?! It literally hadn't moved at all since I called them and they assured me it was on its way! I remember the woman I talked to on the phone even put me on hold to verify that my package was sitting there before confirming that she'd forward it to East Glacier.

Clearly, I would not be using my laptop anytime soon. The last time I had seen the laptop was in West Yellowstone. I didn't imagine that I'd basically hike through the entire state of Montana and never see it. Just like Colorado! Basically, I never got to use my laptop in two out five states the trail went through. Well, technically, I didn't use it in Idaho either, but seeing as I was in Idaho for less than 24 hours, it didn't seem fair to count that.

Well, it wasn't the end of the world, but I told the woman that if the package somehow did arrive for me here, to please forward it on to me in Seattle. I'd have to call the Butte post office again and see if they'd forward it to Seattle. Or maybe I should just wait and let them return it to the sender. It had been in that post office for about a month now. They were bound to return it to the sender sooner or later.

In any case, I headed back to the hostel for the night. I finally got to eat some lunch. I also got a phone call from the four women I met on the trail a few days earlier asking if I was still trying to hitch a ride back to East Glacier. I know I gave them my number for just that purpose, but I was still a little surprised they made the effort of calling. They had just finished their own hike and weren't sure if I was on the side of the road somewhere still trying to hitch a ride. I assured them that I had already made it into East Glacier--the two hitches into town went remarkably efficiently. I was in St. Marys for less than 60 seconds before getting a ride!

Back at the hostel, on my phone, I checked the Amtrak website for a ride home. There's a train station right there in East Glacier, and an Amtrak route that would take me from East Glacier direct to Seattle on the Empire Builder. Amanda had called and let me know that she was off for a few days around this time and could drive out to pick me up, but I told her not to worry about it. I wanted to ride the train. I've really enjoyed riding the train in the past. There's lots of leg room, and gorgeous scenery. It really was the best way to travel from East Glacier to Seattle, and I was looking forward to it. I had even arrived early enough in the day to catch the train that passed through tonight at around 6:30pm.

The price of the last minute ticket, however, was $230, but if I waited until tomorrow night, it was only $106. Since the price of the hostel was $15, I decided to purchase the ticket for tomorrow night and save over a hundred dollars.

It didn't quite work out like I expected.... I should have paid the $230 and left tonight. It would have simplified so many things.... but I had no way of knowing that at the time. But that's a story for the next post! For now, I had finished the trail. I was a Triple Crowner! And my days of sleeping outside were now over.

Back at the hostel, I did find this Burger King hat, so I took a photo of myself wearing it. The one prop I used to mark my completion of the Triple Crown--but I still regret not having my tiara at the border. And... this beard could now be chopped off! I wouldn't need it anymore.... =)



I continued to leave more leaf people on the trail in my wake....



I just love the yellow aspens at this time of year!





One of the other hikers at the hostel sketched this photo of me, but now I forgot who it was and didn't think to write down his name!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Day 156: Tunnels and Ghost Towns!

September 23: I woke up especially early this morning since I needed to hike about 26 miles to the next campsite on my permit. I wasn't happy about this, but it was what it was. My plan had been to start hiking by around 7:00am, but it was still a bit too dark for me to take photos so I lingered an extra half hour before hitting the trail. The days are definitely getting short!

Fortunately, this morning was considerably warmer than previous mornings so at least I didn't have a bitter cold to deal with. I popped into Reality Check's campsite on my way out to say bye. She was hiking a different route to the Canadian border than I was and so we didn't expect to cross paths again.

Within an hour, I reached the Going-to-the-Sun road, the main road that crosses through the park. The trail passes under the road through a culvert, but I popped my head up at the road level to admire a distant glacier (Jackson Glacier) and the signs describing the disappearing and shrinking glaciers in the park. If you want to see glaciers in this park, the time to visit is now! If you wait too long, there won't be any left.

Anyhow, the biggest perk at the road was that there were trash cans available so I could throw out my trash. Lightening my load is always a nice perk!

I was very excited about finding this trash can to dump my trash along the Going-to-the-Sun road. =)

I pushed onward, up toward Piegan Pass. It was a steep and relentless climb, heading up over 3000 feet to the pass. I was surprised at the number of people I passed on the trail. They were day hikers who got particularly early starts to the day, but they weren't in any where near as good of shape as I was and I passed one after another. I can't say that the trail was crowded--but it definitely wasn't empty. I had figured it would largely be empty this early in the morning, and I was clearly mistaken. I wondered how busy it would get later in the afternoon.

The views from the top of the pass were absolutely stunning. There were patches of snow on the climb up and at the top of the pass, but the snow was quite a bit thicker on the back side heading down. Having a couple of relatively warm days helped melt a good deal of it, though. I imagined it was likely considerably worse a couple of days ago!

View looking back from the climb toward Piegan Pass. I camped somewhere near the bottom of that valley last night! That's the Going-to-the-Sun road cutting down the valley as well.

I stopped for a snack break at the top. In fact, snack breaks would be all I would stop for today. I didn't have time for a proper lunch break. I had a lot of miles to cover over very rugged terrain, and I needed to finish them before sunset and the days were becoming alarmingly short.

Once I got over the pass, I pretty much saw almost no one the rest of the day. None of the day hikers continued on beyond Piegan Pass. I was in backpacking territory now, and there weren't very many of those folks left this late in the season.

Down the far side, I had to deal with a bit of postholing--never a pleasant experience--but within a mile or so the trail descended below the snow level and my pace picked up.

Several hours later, I reached the Many Glacier area. Normally, this place would be full of people. There's an enormous hotel and parking lot, and the area is gorgeous. The hotel, however, was boarded up and completely vacant. I was told that the park needed to do some construction on the road that led out to here, so they closed everything up earlier in the season than normal. They could do the road work they needed without any silly tourists getting in the way.

But the hotel had the presence of a horror movie. Deserted, quiet and eerie. A stiff wind blew over the adjacent Swiftcurrent Lake. It felt to me like some horrible massacre happened at the hotel, and it was quickly boarded up and abandoned in the aftermath. That, of course, didn't really happen, but that's the kind of vibe it seemed to give off. It was a little unsettling. I imagined scenes from The Shining as I passed by.

The Many Glacier Hotel was boarded up and closed for the season, giving it a very lonely, desolate feel. (Well, technically, only the windows on the first floor were boarded up. The rest of the windows weren't. I'm not sure if that's because it was just to discourage people from breaking in, or if it's because the snow pack during the winter months might pile up high enough to break the first floor windows.)

Beyond the hotel, I veered off from the official CDT. The main red-line route ends at the Canadian border just south of Waterton, and, in fact, that's where I would have preferred to end my hike. However, due to COVID restrictions, I could not (legally) hike into Canada. Supposedly I could if I could get a COVID test within 48 hours of crossing the border or something like that, but there aren't exactly a lot of testing stations in the Glacier Park backcountry.

There is, however, an alternate route that ends at the Chief Mountain Trailhead, so that was my plan. And thus, I veered off the main red-line route for the final time.

Some hikers are so enamored with the thought of finishing at the "main" finishing point, they'll walk out to the Canadian border at Waterton Lake, then hike out on the US side of the border at Chief Mountain. (Or, even more rare, they'll hike out toward the west side of the park exiting near Bow Lake.) I wasn't feeling quite so ambitious, though. I just wanted to finish this trail. Anyhow, while thru-hiking the PNT, I had seen most of the scenery between where the red-line route ends and the Chief Mountain trailhead. This route I'd be following would be completely new for me up until the last few hours.

The views leading up to Ptarmigan Pass were awesome!

But even then, I didn't follow the "official" alternate route to the Chief Mountain TH. Nope, several hikers who had just finished the trail and showed up in East Glacier recommended that I take a route over Ptarmigan Pass where there was an impressive tunnel drilled through the mountain. It came highly recommended, and the photos I saw intrigued me. So I took an alternate of the alternate and headed up to the pass there.

On the climb up, I passed two rangers who were heading down. They stopped to check my permit and noted that I had a particularly long day of hiking today. There were two of them, and the guy did most of the talking while the woman mostly watched. I don't think they were being sexist, though. I kind of felt like he was the senior ranger of the duo, but I could be wrong. Who knows? She seemed to watch me like I had stashed a weapon that I might pull out and start shooting though, and stayed far enough back that if I whipped out a knife, I couldn't use it on her. Maybe I just stank really bad, though. It's hard to be sure.

But yep, I did have a long day of hiking, but I was still well on track to reach my campsite at Elizabeth Lake before sunset. I was tired, though. I hadn't been taking very many breaks or resting, and the trail was definitely very rugged.

I also asked if they were interested in taking one of the two bear sprays I now carried off of me. Maybe they had a hiker box somewhere they could drop it off or something. I really didn't want to carry it any further than I needed. I told them about finding it on the trail, and they said they'd be happy to take it off my hands. Without a doubt, they could find someone who'd find it useful. So cool. Got rid of that.

They also reported seeing a moose that had passed through the tunnel at the pass. Okay, that was interesting. I'll have to keep my eyes open for him. (Never did see him, though.)

We parted ways, and I continued the climb toward Ptarmigan Pass. In the last section, the trail switchbacked up a steep hillside, and I kept cursing the lack of the tunnel. Where was the tunnel? What's the point of a tunnel at the top of the pass?!

I finally reached the tunnel. The views were absolutely stupendous, but I was huffing and puffing and well out of breath. The tunnel looked like it was maybe 30 feet below the summit, and I wanted to kick it. Why?! Why?! Why wasn't it a couple of hundred feet lower down the mountain where it could have saved me a real effort getting over the pass?

I didn't know the history of the tunnel. I assumed it must have been created through the mountain before the park was created. Some sort of mining shortcut, to pull resources across the pass more easily, but once I saw where it was, that didn't make much sense.

The tunnel was just a stone's throw below the top of the pass. Why couldn't they have made it lower?!

Later, I looked up a bit of information and it was built in the 1930s, well after the park was established in 1910. It was actually meant for hikers to go through. I doubt such a mining operation would be allowed in this day and age in an otherwise pristine backcountry, but back then, it was normal to dynamite holes through mountains whenever it was convenient. Parks were for people, not the wildlife.

Each end of the tunnel had doors that would seal it off during the winter months, and I specifically asked the rangers while getting my permit if the doors would still be open. I didn't want to reach the tunnel then have to turn back because it was a dead end having closed for the season. They told me that it was expected to stay open for at least another week or so, so I was fine going in this direction.

From the far side of the tunnel, I could see Elizabeth Lake far below, deep in the valley that stretched out before me. It was a gorgeous view, but it was still miles to the bottom and that's where my campsite was located. *sigh* I was so ready to stop for the day, but couldn't... not yet....

I finally reached Elizabeth Lake at about 6:30pm, a full hour before sunset. My GPS had logged over 11,000 feet of elevation gains and losses--it had been a long, hard day! But my day was finally over!

At the campground, there were three other people there already, so I chatted with them for a bit and made a quick dinner in the common area before stuffing my food bags in a bear box and retiring to my campsite for the night.

It was, if everything worked out properly tomorrow, my last night on the trail.... Because from this point, I was now less than 10 miles from the end of the trail. Canada was near.....

My campsite for the night

That's Jackson Glacier in the distance, according the sign on the Going-to-the-Sun road that I passed.

There were still patches of snow at the top of Piegan Pass.

Many Glacier Hotel

Can you see the tunnel at the top of this pass? Yeah, neither could I.... But it's up there!

That's Elizabeth Lake at the bottom of the valley, and my campground is located along the shore at the far end of it.

There was one person fishing in Elizabeth Lake when I arrived, but I didn't walk out to him to introduce myself. =)