Monday, September 26, 2022

Day 150: The East Glacier Run

September 17: It was another bitterly cold morning. My water bottles partially froze and frost covered everything. I so did not want to get up this morning! Or rather, I very much did not want to leave the confines of my sleeping bag.

The sunrise, however, turned out gorgeous. I eventually pulled myself up and ate breakfast and brushed my teeth afterwards, but I skipped flossing them like I usually did. My fingers were so cold and numb, I just couldn't work the floss. My fingers just didn't have the necessary dexterity. Argh! Stupid cold. I really needed to get this trail done.

The sunrise was gorgeous! Cold, but gorgeous!

I managed to get on the trail and hiking at 7:47am according to my clock. A quick and steady walk helped warm me up a bit, but it was still a cold morning and I wore my fleece jacket for the first part of the day.

The trail largely followed parallel to a creek, but it crossed the creek about a dozen times in total. I didn't count them all, but none of them had bridges and comments on Guthook reported some fairly harrowing crossings at times by the southbound hikers. However, a few of the northbound thru-hikers with more recent reports said that the water level was low enough that it was possible to rock hop across every single crossing without getting one's feet wet. Given how cold it was, that sounded like a swell idea to me!

Some of the crossings were a bit of a challenge or required navigating up or downstream to find a suitable place to cross, the I did manage to cross them all without ever getting my feet wet. Sweet!

So many water crossings, but I managed to keep my feet dry! Whew! =)

Early in the afternoon, I reached a campground at Highway 2. Originally, my plan had been to stop here, or at least somewhere nearby, and camp for the night. Just across the highway on the other side of Marias Pass lay the promised land: Glacier National Park. I did not, however, have a permit that allowed me to legally camp in the park. Not yet, at least.

The trail, on its way to East Glacier, eventually leaves the park and enters the Blackfoot reservation--which one also needs a permit to camp in. (I'll make a note here that I thought you needed a permit to camp in the reservation, but I later learned that you actually need a permit to hike through their reservation as well. I didn't know about that at the time, though. So while I refer to needing a permit to camp, I completely ignore the fact that I needed a permit to hike through--but only because I didn't realize it at the time.)

Which meant.... the next legal place where I knew I could camp was actually in the town of East Glacier itself. That was quite a distance away, however, and it was only Friday in any case. If I made it into town today, I'd have to take a double-zero to wait for the post office to open on Monday.

On the other hand, I really didn't really feel like stopping so early in the day. Eventually, I decided to push onward and hoped I'd reach town before dark and hope I could find cheap accommodations. If I didn't make it before dark, I guess I'd have to stealth camp illegally. Somewhere to be determined. I hoped it wouldn't come to that, however.

I did stop for a lunch break at the Summit Campground, however, used the outhouses and checked out the impressive obelisk marking the pass. Then I crossed Highway 2 and a railroad--the railroad actually predates the highway over this pass. The pass was discovered by the white men when explorers were looking for a route to get the railroad through the Rocky Mountains in this area.

The obelisk at Marias Pass

And just passed the railroad, I officially entered Glacier National Park. I couldn't help but smile at finally being in the park. The CDT ends in Glacier National Park! This was the last stretch of trail! I still had the entire park to go through before I reached the end, but still... the end never felt so close. I had sewed a patch of Glacier National Park on my hat--it was my destination the entire time. And finally, I was here! It was a sweet, sweet feeling of success. =)

I had only been in the park for about 3 minutes when I came across a moose standing on the trail. Wow! How cool! It's like he came out especially to greet me for my grand arrival!

I watched him for a bit, and he watched me, but eventually I grew bored of the watching and shooed him off and continued the hike.

This moose greeted me on my entrance to Glacier NP.

The weather forecast for the afternoon included an advisory about "dangerously high winds." The wind did, indeed, pick up strongly about the time I entered the park. I wouldn't say that they seemed especially dangerous, although even a light wind could blow down an occasional tree. That's always a risk. The bigger problem I had with the wind was the wind chill. Even in the sun, the air felt cold and the wind chill even worse! The entire day was just plain cold.

A couple of hours in, I took a short snack break during which Reality Check rounded the curve and caught up with me. I last saw her way back in Rawlins, WY, which seemed like a lifetime ago. We chatted for a few minutes, catching up with each other's adventures. She mentioned having reserved a cabin in East Glacier for $50/night or something, and I asked if I could sleep on the floor or something if I couldn't find my own accommodations in town and split the cost. She didn't have a problem with this, and I felt much better having a definite place where I could stay for the night without breaking any laws. =) But my plan was to find other accommodation and let Reality Check have her cabin all to herself.

She pushed onward, and I finished my snacks and followed a short time later. Reality Check hiked a lot faster than I did so I had no expectation that I'd see her again until after arriving in East Glacier.

I passed a couple of weekend backpackers heading in the other direction, but otherwise the trail was empty. Late in the day, I crossed into the Blackfoot reservation--at this point hiking illegally since I didn't have a permit but still oblivious to the fact thinking that I only needed a permit if I camped there.

In the reservation, I noticed a lot of bear poop. Not just a big pile of it, but it seemed like bear poop was everywhere! I must have passed dozens of separate poops the last couple of miles into town. I definitely did not want to camp anywhere near this area. My gut feeling was that the bears were particularly thick here because they'd try to go into town and score food in trash cans or on the street. I suspected these bears weren't especially fearful of people given the close proximity to town. And there were likely grizzly bears included in the bunch. Nope, I definitely had no intention of camping in this area after seeing all that bear poop.

So much bear poop on the way into East Glacier. It was everywhere!

I reached town very close to sunset and headed out to the Looking Glass. It used to be a restaurant but turned into a hostel this hiking season and hikers could camp inside the old restaurant for a mere $15/night. It was easy enough to fit a dozen or more hikers as well. Plenty of room for everyone!

So that's what I wound up doing. And since the post office didn't open until Monday and I therefore had two more nights that I wanted to stay in town, the low-low price of $15/night was absolutely awesome. Safe from the elements! Safe from the cold! An enormous, industrial kitchen to cook! It was a pretty nice setup.

The owners, Luna and Will, were incredibly friendly and welcoming and shared all sorts of interesting stories about the hikers who came through behind us. They seemed to really enjoy their hiker clientele as well. I had arrived so late, however, that I didn't spend much time chatting with them this evening. I'd definitely get to know them better over the next few days, though! =)

In hindsight, I realized that if I hitched a ride from Marias Pass into town, I could have arrived in time to pick up my laptop from the post office. Argh! That would have been an awesome choice as well! I could have hitched a ride back tomorrow then slackpacked the distance from Marias Pass into East Glacier. Now I was stuck in town for two zeros days without a laptop. *sigh* So I was a little disappointed for not thinking of that alternative option earlier.

My home for the night... actually, the next few nights.

I took a short lunch break at a campsite at Summit Campground, just off Highway 2.

Crossing the last railroad tracks of the trail....

I guess you don't have to register here unless you come in the winter?

Hello, Glacier NP!

I left a few leaf people faces on the trail for those behind me to enjoy. =)

Yes, I suppose it is an open range....

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