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...

Katoya,Morning Star, Pitamakin, Seven Winds, Upper Two Medicine Lakes : Wub comes to Visit…

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

In 2004 I had finally solidified a good job in Glacier National Park and was excited for it to begin.

When you start a summer seasonal job in a place like this you day dream of extending it to your friends and family back home.

Back home for me is Cincinnati, Ohio and so are some of my best friends.

My buddy Jerry decided to throw down the unfortunately large coin to get from Cincinnati to Kalispell.

He was here!

He did it.

Its so easy to say you are going to come visit, but it’s entirely different to actually pull it off.

DCF 1.0

Growing up my friends and I were really into camping and backpacking in Kentucky.

Jerry was by far the biggest player in getting us out each weekend.

He was instrumental in the fact that I am who I am and do what I do.

He was the first person to ever introduce me to the idea of actually leaving the trail.

And what would life be like, if we always stayed on the trail, you know?

 

We were hiking in the Red River Gorge with a couple friends when he suggested we navigate from the top of the wooded ridge to the junction at the bottom.. but why not explore?

Why not see what is down there instead of hiking that same trail we had hiked before?

 

This story is pertinent because in 2004 I had also recently decided to attempt to be the first person to ever jump in every named lake in Glacier.

Heard about that?

It’s kind of a big deal in my life.

 

So, the two worlds were about to collide.

DCF 1.0

 

Jerry and I got a backcountry permit to hike from the Cutbank Valley to Two Medicine.

Our permit was to stay at Morning Star and Upper Two Medicine Campgrounds.

I worked all day so we had to pound out the miles to Morning Star starting at about 6pm.

The light was already starting to get low in the sky which lit the mountains up with dark reds.

DCF 1.0

The Cutbank valley was posted for grizzly bear activity at the time.

Posting means that while Glacier National Park has lots and lots of bears, they had actually been sighted lately and often in this valley.

Jerry and I were on hyper alert but we saw nothing but prints and diggings.

I’m sure the frantic hoots and hollers helped keep the bears at bay also.

DCF 1.0

The next morning we continued our history of off trail travel.

We wandered up a beautiful little side valley to Katoya Lake.

Many years ago there was a backcountry site on the lake shore, but Grizzly activity through the years forced it to be removed.

DCF 1.0

Again there were no bears, but the pucker factor of roaming around off trail kept us vigilant.

We enjoyed a quick morning dip with Red Mountain and pristine meadows all around us.

Unfortunately we had to “keep it brief” because there were lots of miles to cover in one day.

The rocks on the lake floor must have hurt too, forcing me to make an odd airplane motion.

DCF 1.0

This was early enough in the project that I was able to hit five new lakes on this trip.

That doesn’t happen anymore these days.

After Katoya we doubled back to Morning Star to gather our things and take another swim.

DCF 1.0

 

The trail to Pitamakin Lake was filled with Indian Paintbrush and countless other shades of wildflowers.

DCF 1.0

The lake is tucked into the base of Pitamakin Pass.

At this moment I had achieved a whopping 20 lakes!

It felt monumental at the time.

DCF 1.0

There is a second and almost mirror image lake next door called Lake of the Seven Winds.

We climbed over the small wooded ridge that separates the two and enjoyed a nice snack and swim.

Luckily, it was a warm and pleasant day for swimming.

I was very thankful for that.

Four lakes in a day would be tough if the weather was nasty.

DCF 1.0

Finally we pushed up trail towards Pitamakin Pass and its huge views.

DCF 1.0

From high above it’s pretty wild to see two lakes separated by such a small amount of land.

DCF 1.0

Near the top we bumped into a large group of Bighorn Sheep.

They stood their ground, so we had to slowly push past them to finally get to the top.

kat 14

The trail leads further uphill from Pitamakin Pass to Cutbank Pass which opens up to the western slope of the Continental Divide.

kat 15

From Cutbank pass you can see how Pitamakin Pass separates the Oldman and Cutbank Valleys.

DCF 1.0

The next five miles could very possibly be the most spectacular in the park.

The trail is essentially a goat path skirting along Mt. Morgan and Mt. Flinch with gargantuan views!

We stopped countless times to take in the grand expanses of the Nyack Valley.

kat 17

The trail hit a saddle on the continental divide and stared down at the Old Man Lake drainage.

kat 18

It was a perfect place to take a lunch break and enjoy the afternoon.

If I only knew then how many times I would find myself in the Old Man Lake valley in the coming years.

At the time it was new terrain for two old friends from the flatland, and a nearly perfect perch to enjoy a bagel.

kat 19

As we took in the whole scene we noticed a rock with ripple marks in it.

Long before the area became mountainous it was covered by an ancient inland sea.

Wild to find a rock with ripples in it thousands of feet above the valley bottom.

kat 20

As we hiked along, we stopped periodically on the cliff edge to celebrate that we were given the chance to be alive on a day this great.

DCF 1.0

Before we dropped off Dawson Pass we looked back once more on the thin trail that led us there.

kat 22

As we hiked downhill we looked for wildlife, but all we found was a snowfield that looked like a woman in a white dress breathing fire.

Years later I would start calling this snowfield Millie’s Wedding Day for a friend of mine’s grandma.

 

kat 23

After dropping all the way to the valley bottom we still had to limp our way back to Upper Two Medicine Lake Campground.

Shortly after getting to the campsite, night fell.

Stars filled the sky like cheese cloth while we ate everything we had in our food bags.

 

We took our leisurely time in the morning and enjoyed the sights.

Over breakfast we scanned the enormous walls of Mt. Sinopah and Mt. Helen for wildlife.

kat 24

I took an early morning dip before breaking down camp.

Rounding out my new lake number to 22.

That feels like forever ago now.

kat 25

Not excited for the trip to end we lingered by the lake.

Taking just one more picture and soaking it up for all it was worth.

kat 26

We arrived at the Two Medicine Lake boat dock with some time to kill.

While we waited for Sinopah, the Glacier Park Boat Company tour boat to come and pick us up we took one last dip.

We launched off the dock repeatedly till our chariot arrived.

kat 27

We kicked back and let the boat cut out the last few miles in style.

It dropped us off at the dock near the Two Medicine Camp Store

I believe I remember there being excessive amounts of Huckleberry ice cream involved at this point.

kat 28

It was spectacular having my friend visit me in one of my proudest moments;  I had secured a job I was truly proud of in what might very well be the most amazing place on earth.

I had one of my best buds accompany me on my first off trail outing in this new lake jumping project I had started.

It was great to have a familiar face along as I began what would prove to be the most difficult, time consuming and bizarre endeavor of my life.

Thank you my friend for the walk.

To Life!

kat 29

 

0 comments