Marc Ankenbauer's 10+ year quest to jump in every named lake in Glacier and Waterton National Parks for charity.
168 lakes. Only 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ZERO LAKES LEFT!!!
-- Marc jumped into Fisher Cap Lake on Sunday September 8th, 2013 to complete his goal! --
Read about Marc and how this project started...

The Floral Park Saga – Part 1

Folks, don’t try this at home...or in Glacier!
FULL SAFETY MESSAGE

top pic The Floral Park Saga - Glacier Explorer

Gem Lake sits high atop Comeau Pass.

Comeau Pass is equally high atop the single most amazing day “endeavor” I have ever been on in my life. I say “day endeavor” because it is no “day hike”.

To call it that implies that it is a straight forward walk that takes nothing more than legs, time and nice day.

Floral Park has grown to have a dubious reputation in the park. It unfortunately has been featured in magazines next to things that are just “day hikes”. This has allowed for first time visitors, newbie concession kids and weekend warriors to address it like it’s just another outing.

It has claimed lives. Please don’t ever attempt this trip solo.

THERE IS WAY TOO MUCH COMMITMENT TO DO SOLO!

My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives over the last few years.

*On to the Story*

Jump Stats


The Floral Park Saga 12 - Glacier Explorer
Lake Jump: #157 of 168
Hiking distance: 20 miles
  -On-trail: 12 miles
  -Off-trail: 8 miles
Difficulty Rating: EXCEPTIONALLY HARD

 

In 2006 I went with a bunch of friends and had an amazing time. It took forever and we hiked out the last couple hours in the dark, but it blew my mind.

I took a dip in four lakes, Hidden Lake, Mary Baker Lake, Feather Woman and Akaiyan Lakes…

So it seems there are five named lakes on the route

I didn’t know about Gem Lake.

It’s not labeled on the map and at the time I hadn’t looked at the USGS list of “Named Lakes in Glacier”.

Although surprised, I’ve been looking forward to doing this route again.

Thanks Map Labelers!

The Floral Park Saga 1 - Glacier Explorer

Often when people accompany me to an off trail lake, I feel guilty for putting people through the often brutal endeavor.

This is a once in a lifetime, bucket list trip for anyone involved.

The evening before we left, a wildfire was reported in the Avalanche Lake Valley.

The Floral Park Saga 3 - Glacier Explorer


It kind of spooked us, as the route goes directly through the Sperry Glacier Basin which is the head of the Avalanche Lake valley.

A High Wind Advisory found Logan pass more than brisk, but we were able to make early morning miles fueled by some of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had. THANKS PAT!

The light was amazing as we hiked up to Hidden Lake Overlook.

The Floral Park Saga 2 - Glacier Explorer

Millions of people have looked down upon Hidden Lake, but comparatively few ever drop down to it.

The Floral Park Saga 4 - Glacier Explorer

Twice I’ve been to this amazing lake, and both times were to begin Floral Park.

The Floral Park Saga 5 - Glacier Explorer

Once you leave the foot of Hidden Lake there’s no trail at all.

Once you begin wrapping around Bearhat Mountain you have to be able to read a map and know the route.

The Floral Park Saga 6 - Glacier Explorer

A lot of people expect a path, but for hours and hours you are simply on your own.

The first main objective is to gain a huge ridge that separates Hidden Lake from “everything else”.

From the top it was obvious that the fire was not going to be an issue for us as it was far away from the route.

The Floral Park Saga 7 - Glacier Explorer

It made for a historically memorable day though. I will always remember that I did Gem Lake on the day of the Avalanche fire.

From the top of the ridge we stared down a chasm that dropped 4000’ feet directly down to Avalanche Lake.

The Floral Park Saga 8 - Glacier Explorer

It made my stomach flip and flop. But, at least there were enormous gusts of wind kicking us back and forth…At least we had that, huh?

The Floral Park Saga 9 - Glacier Explorer

As we looked back on our last views of Hidden Lake you can understand why people linger down there.

The Floral Park Saga 10 - Glacier Explorer

It’s amazing! But it truly is the “beginning”.

The Floral Park Saga 11 - Glacier Explorer

The first time doing Floral Park, you don’t really grasp how much more is beyond this Dragons Tail ridge.

There is countless hours of ridges to drop, bear grass to side hill up and down, bedrock ribs to climb over, scree to battle, streams to cross. It is profound!

The Floral Park Saga 12 - Glacier Explorer

Comeau Pass looks like forever from the top of the ridge.

Then when you finally get to Comeau Pass, there is still 10 miles of trail and 5000 feet of elevation drop before you get to your car that’s parked at Lake McDonald Lodge.

There is one way down from this huge ridge and its a really steep hill of bear grass all the way down to Mary Baker Lake and the rest of the route.

The Floral Park Saga 13 - Glacier Explorer

It is fondly referred to as B#!ch Hill for its obviously enjoyable nature. This is the point of no return.

Once you drop this huge hill, you will never want or hardly be able to turn back.

I think this is one of the biggest issues with the route. There is a total commitment that many novice hikers are not used to.

The Floral Park Saga 14 - Glacier Explorer

At the bottom is lovely little Mary Baker Lake.

We quickly pulled water, shoved Gatorade and food in our faces. We had accomplished something here but there is SO much more.

The Floral Park Saga 15 - Glacier Explorer

The next step is side hilling up more bear grass and scree towards the Sperry Glacier Basin.

The Floral Park Saga 16 - Glacier Explorer

The fire burnt on the side of Mt. Brown and from our timely perch we had a great view.

The Floral Park Saga 17 - Glacier Explorer

Helicopters were flying around and surveying the situation.

The Floral Park Saga 18 - Glacier Explorer

At the top of the slope we started hitting snow and rock. We could see our entire route from the top of the ridge down that ill named hill and back up the latest slope of vegetation.

The Floral Park Saga 19 - Glacier Explorer

This is where the real payoff begins.

All those moments when you feel like you are not giving the route the time it deserves.

You have stored up all your borrowed time so you can spend it in this paradise of half moonscape/half heaven.

A route this long forces you to keep moving.

The Floral Park Saga 20 - Glacier Explorer

It’s ironic though, you want to constantly linger and take pictures.

You are in the depths of one of the longest hardest days you have ever undertaken, but you are simultaneously having your mind blown.

The Floral Park Saga 21 - Glacier Explorer

We could hardly even take time for a legitimate lunch, but we did so at an amazing little melt pond of glacier water shortly after having gained the glacier basin.

The Floral Park Saga 22 - Glacier Explorer

Pat and I have entertained making a website called “where I ate lunch today”. This would be a good entry.

But, we absolutely HAD TO KEEP MOVING.

The sun has only so long to light our way and we had to get out of the Glacier Basin and back to normal trail before it stopped.

The Floral Park Saga 23 - Glacier Explorer

As Robert Frost said,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The Floral Park Saga 24 - Glacier Explorer

To Be Continued…

Tune in next week….

Same lake jumping time….

Same lake jumping channel….

For the startling conclusion of…

Bear grass meets Bedrock! The Floral Park Saga!!

Update: Part 2 is available here

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