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
-- Marc jumped into Fisher Cap Lake on Sunday September 8th, 2013 to complete his goal! --
Read about Marc and how this project started...

Grace Lake : Scat, Tracks and the Ancient Grizzly Bear Trail

Early May in the Northern Rocky Mountains is a time of reemergence.

A time when every creature big and small is going through changes and coming back to life.

The first flowers of the year, called Glacier Lilies, will cover an area that two days ago was covered in snow!

Grace 1

All the while, the upper reaches of the peaks are still in the throes of winter, still weighted down with a thick blanket of snow.

This is why the low elevation lakes of the Northwestern corner of the park are a perfect spring playground.


Grace 2


My good friend Clay called me while I was sitting on my couch in Missoula one evening, and tossed out a plan.

He was planning a trip into the Logging Lake valley and wanted to know if I felt like coming with.

He knew Grace Lake was at the head of the valley and that I was eyeing it for an early season dip.

I was seriously excited by the potential of knocking off a lake earlier than ever before.

I instantly started throwing gear in my car and driving north.

Montana had been enjoying a stretch of unseasonable 70 degree days with blue bird skies.  You don’t look a weather pattern like that, or a gift horse in the mouth.  You know…

I stared off towards the continental divide gleaming white in the distance as we cruised north on the Camas Road towards Polebridge.

We passed a group of 30 elk grazing in a tree ringed meadow.


Grace 3

Elk in a Meadow


The famous Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery had just recently opened for the season and was in full swing by the time we got there.

The always friendly girl staffing the counter handed over my breakfast of a cinnamon roll and bear claw.  It was gone by the time I got back to the truck, but thankfully I had the will power to stash my cookies in my pack.

They would prove an exciting snack later the next day.


Grace 3


Another a few miles down the Inside North Fork Road brought us to the Logging Lake Trailhead.

It had been months since I last went on a real hike, so nothing was going quickly.

Clay, ever the pal…only pointed out my disorganization a few times.

While the foot of Logging Lake was only five miles from the trailhead, our real destination Grace Lake was 13 miles.

Almost the entire trail is board flat, but 13 miles is 13 miles.  We had to get moving.


Grace 5


As I mentioned before, early May in Glacier is as wild as it gets.

On top of that, the Logging Lake valley is seldom hiked in mid-August, much less now.


Grace 6


The entire trail was one big, muddy track trap.  The only prints we didn’t see were human.

Pretty sure we were the first people up the trail since the snow melted.

We made terrible time, stopping to examine prints and scat along the way.


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We easily saw over 300 Grizzly bear and Black Bear prints.

It is no surprise, but Logging Lake valley must have an exceptionally healthy bear population judging by what we saw.


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Grizzly Bear Print


Mountain Lion prints were sprinkled throughout.

In all my time running around in the mountains, I’ve still never gotten to see one in the wild.

Although, I’m positive I’ve been seen by more cats than I care to ponder.

It’s a bit spooky but extremely true.


Grace 9

Mountain Lion Track


This area of the park has always been a hot bed of wolf activity since they reintroduced themselves from neighboring packs in Canada.

Their prints were very abundant, but again no sightings.


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Wolf Track


Wild animal prints are like the seasoning to the great steak that is a good hike.

They are the suspense in a drama film.

You know that you’re surrounded on all sides by animals that remove you from the top of the food chain.

You just don’t get to see them.

It’s like when horror movies were still art, you know?

You are never more engrossed in the moment, than when you are surrounded by large carnivore prints.


Grace 11

Grizzly Bear Track


We stopped periodically along the lake shore to soak in every ounce of this perfect day.


Grace 12


Clay scanned the hillsides and kept track of everything that flew by.

We even got a serenade from the local Loon population.


Grace 13


We pounded feet to the head of Logging Lake where we were to make camp.

When we arrived, a Bald Eagle stood perched in a tall dead snag, welcoming our arrival.


Grace 14


The lake was as calm as you could ever ask for.

The reflections were surreal they were so reflective.

We stared across a huge lake of glass as the sun set into the western horizon.


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In the morning we passed the Upper Logging Lake Cabin and saw a rare sight.

Come to find out that Grizzly Bears not only walk in the same trails year in and year out…but in the same foot prints.

Over the years the pattern of foot prints that they use over and over became 3” deep depressions into the ground.

I can’t imagine how many times a bear has to step in the same place to make a divot in the ground that deep.

There was a trail of deep prints walking from the shore of Logging Lake, directly towards the cabin, under the front porch overhang and all the way around the cabin.


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The cabin was also covered in scratch marks from decades of visits.

I can’t even imagine staying there… The bears own that cabin!


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The trail meandered through dense west side forest.  The sun warmed the pines up creating one of my favorite smells on earth.


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We continued on for another mile and a half until we got to the shore of Grace Lake.

The winds had changed dramatically and were ripping up waves across the whole lake.

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Clay was a real trooper to accompany me into the water.

Many others would have been content to simply take the pictures.

I set the camera on timer and we waded out into the frigid spring waters.

A split second before the camera clicked he was so kind as to shove me further out into the lake.

What are buddies for?


Grace 20


Any lake that has made it this far into the project, I’ve obviously obsessed over.

I’ve looked down from near Gyrfalcon Lake and wondered when I would finally bob around in these waters.

Never would I guess it would have been seven years later and on a perfect, 70 degree day in early May.

I’ll take it.


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We had to make our way all the way back to the trailhead before dark and that was going to take some doing.

We cruised along, stopping on the side of the lake to take in the scenery and do some logistics planning.  Soon there will be a mission to Lilly Lake which is tucked into Adair Ridge, just south of Logging Lake.   That is going to be thankless schwack, making this wonderful trail hike a luxury.

In the first days of the 2004 season I jumped into Logging Lake with my good friend Anna.

I had known her then for about a week.

It was also my first purposeful “lake jump” not more than a few days after dreaming up this project.

I hadn’t been back since.

Ten years later, I wanted to new pic of me hopping in.

So, while in a rush, I plopped my being in there for good measure.

Clay rejoiced in the fact that I totally lost my balance as I floundered my way back out of the lake.


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That kept us laughing for the last five mile stretch back towards the truck.


Grace 23

This was a spectacular way to start my last season of the project.

Good friends, good times, great weather and a whole bunch of suspenseful prints.

Can’t ask for much more than that!

To Life!

Marc Ankenbauer


Anyone have any great animal track stories.  Been followed and not known it?  Had the hair raise on the back of their neck but never seen the animals?  Let me hear about it in the comments!

Happy Summer Folks!

Grace 24


The Floral Park Saga Part 2 – Gem Lake

01 - Floral Park Saga Part 2 - Glacier Explorer

This is Part 2 of the Floral Park Saga. Check out Part 1, if you haven’t already.

Sperry Glacier Basin is unlike anywhere I have found myself on the planet. It’s like being on an island. It’s alien, removed and high above the rest of the surrounding world.

Although, if you are familiar with the park…you find yourself surrounded by strangely familiar things.

Directly below you is a sheer cliff down to Avalanche Lake which is probably the most visited hike in the whole park. People staring up at these cliffs from below don’t even know you’re up there. It’s like it’s a secret, like you’re hiding.

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The mountains you look off at are Stanton, Vaught and McPartland which are the main landscape at Lake McDonald Lodge on the Going to the Sun Road.

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Off in the distance are the familiar mountains that you see from Logan Pass and the highline trail which is the absolute center; the heart and soul of Glacier.

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Behind us was Sperry Glacier which we have all heard of but few seldom see and certainly not this intimately.

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By this point in the trip you are looking back at gargantuan efforts that happened early enough in the trip that they seem like a different day.

The whole experience is simultaneously alien and warmly familiar to those who know.

After lunch we headed into the depths of the Glacier Basin.

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It is made up of countless ribs of bedrock that lead directly towards the open expanse of familiar mountains at odd angles and eventually the epic drop into the Avalanche Lake headwall.

The basin is made of bedrock ribs that were scoured clean from by the glacier through the last eternity.

When you look closely there are striations on the all the ribs from the glacier scraping against the rock. This exotic landscape has only become visible over the last century.

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The area is a washboard of ups and downs that present a unique obstacle course.

Each time you get to the top of a rib there could be anything on the other side.

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There could be a perfect little scramble down or an expanse of snow completely filling the gap between ribs.

There could be a stream to cross or a melt pond that forces you to walk ten minutes around to the other side.

Countless options, over and over and over again.

It’s really the strangest landscape I have ever traveled in.

Every time I looked for my partners I found them lit up against the most improbable of backdrops.

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This is the part of the trip that deserved our time, our attention and our camera lens the most.

The moment in time meter went through the roof.

Getting closer to Comeau Pass we had to make a decision that I believe is a no brainer.

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Either we were forced to hike up the Sperry Glacier which is a terrible plan while un-roped.

Or there is a well better option.

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Instead we hiked downhill past the last melt pond and towards a mountain called The Little Matterhorn.

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This little wonderland is filled with wildflowers and a braided stream whose destiny is to become Avalanche Lake.

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We accessed an amazing ramp of rock slabs, wild flowers and marmots that led us directly towards Comeau Pass.

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Our marmot friends were sunning themselves on a huge rock.

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I feel this is the best way to gain the pass.

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Not only is it safe and as straight forward as possible but totally AWESOME!!

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We even took a moment and took the best shadow picture ever!!!

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The layers of rock started looking like candy cane spirals.

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We couldn’t handle how crazy this landscape is!

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Depending on when Floral Park is done, the route has more or less snow.

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On this day only one snow field stood between us and the pass…and in my case.

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By this time I was double timing it.

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I was hoping to get to the lake while there was still sun on it.

It’s cold enough to climb into a lake on top of a huge mountain pass right next to a snow field in the middle of a wind warning.

But, the sun is imperative.

Thankfully I got there with literally minutes of sun left.

I tossed on swimming trunks and flip flops that I had carried for hours and hours, waiting for this moment.

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I had to toss rocks on my other clothes so they did not fly away in the wind.

The outlet of Gem Lake is a waterfall that flows west towards Lake McDonald.

The wind was blowing so hard that it was picking up the waterfall and blowing it up into the air and landing back in the lake.

The fact is, I got it done.

The lake is just deep enough to submerge my body in, certainly no laps being swam.

Just some screams as I waited for a picture or two to be taken by my wife who asked me to stay in for two pictures. She wanted to get it right…Yeah…

It was very cold, but I’m over the idea that these lakes are cold.

I just needed to hop in and get my clothes back on.

I bounced around, doing jumping jacks to warm back up. Everyone else pumped water, ate some food and helped me with whatever tasks my cold digits were having trouble with.

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We were still in a rush, no matter if the dip into the lake was done or not.

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Once at the pass, we still had 10 miles and 5000 feet of elevation loss to take care of on trail.

Let’s keep in mind that the sun was still starting to set.

A group picture was in order as this place, this moment was truly epic

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Before I left the top I grabbed a shot of the heavily weathered sign that marks the pass.

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The trail down from Comeau Pass starts by dropping through a crack in the headwall that was made in the early days of the park.

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There is a cable to hold on to as you climb down. It would be bad to lose your footing since its steep enough to cause some serious damage.

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We saw about 10 mountain goats as we zoomed past alpine lakes and waterfalls.

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We were able to get down to the Sperry Chalet trail intersection before dark fell.

But,…then it fell. And boy did it fall…

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From this point we still had six miles and 3000 feet of elevation loss to do in the pitch black. YES!!

We spooked a bighorn sheep as we slowly picked our footing in the dark.

It’s good to make noise in Griz country anyway, but in the black of night you get pretty inventive.

I’m sure every animal in the woods enjoyed our conversations, games and most off all the show tunes.

It took what felt like forever as we walked in the dark. I think we fell asleep walking a few times. I swear!

But, eventually we popped out at Lake McDonald Lodge.

Car shuttles to Logan Pass commenced.

As we got towards St. Mary there were slight traces of Northern Lights.

I had never seen them through the years and even minor ones are pretty spectacular!

All in all an amazing day!

Even deserved a two part Saga!

To Life!!!

The Floral Park Saga – Part 1

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.


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


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.

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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?

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Nyack Lakes – Into the Abyss – Lakes #155 & #156

Anyone who has hiked the Dawson Pitamakin loop in Glacier knows where the Nyack Lakes are, they just might not know it.

They are these two little lakes at the bottom of what looks like an impossible drop 3000’ feet below the goat trail path that is the actual trail.  The only part of the Nyack Lakes that I’ve been excited about is simply to have them off “the list”.

Nyach Lakes 01 - Glacier Explorer

My trusty partner Pat and I have been debating the best way to address these lakes for years now.

No option is a “good” option.

Either climb 3000’ up to Dawson Pass then drop in on them 3000’ down a constant steep slope, then climb back up that 3000’ back to the Dawson Pass trail and drop back 3000’ back to Two Medicine Lake…OR

You get down there and bushwhack out two miles of 15’ high vegetation till you meet up with the upper Nyack trail and five more miles to a camp, then another 15 miles out the Nyack Valley to the Middle Fork of the Flathead, OR

Up 3000’ to Cutbank Pass which would have been 17 miles out to Two Medicine.

I know that read like a car stereo manual but it’s as straight forward a description that I could give.

Pat came to my apartment to stay and debate out methods, set on picking one or the other.

We sat looking at each other and not wanting to pick from the quiver of awful options.

We actually still had no plans set when we woke up at 6am.

“What are doing”? I asked?

Dunno…what do you want to do?


Wanna flip a coin?


Nyach Lakes 02 - Glacier Explorer

So, Pat flipped a two Pence piece that oddly enough was sitting on my table in which I haven’t a clue where it came from but at 6am, you just flip the coin.  You don’t ask questions.

Three flips, landed on the “squiggly thing” twice.   This meant we camp and make it a two day endeavor…

So, obviously at the last moment we decided we were going to hike in and out in the same day.

Uh…6000’ feet elevation gain, 6000’ elevation loss.

14 hours later, we were done.  Never to go back again.

If you ever ponder this, Stop It.

Go somewhere else.  Fast.

Nyach Lakes 03 - Glacier Explorer

We caught a boat ride from a friend across Two Medicine lake covered in fog but calm as glass.

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It was truly an amazing sight.

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It was a great way to start a terrible death march.

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A hard frost had settled on the valley the night before leaving frozen leaves and visible breathe.

Two moose hung out a mile above the north shore of Two Medicine Lake.

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They were not too happy to have us push past.  One started to follow me.

When in doubt, NEVER mess with Moose.

They kill way more people a year then Grizzly Bears.  They just freak out and stomp on you till you are mush.

The north shore trail was posted for Grizzly activity, so we made a whole lot of noise at this early hour.

Nyach Lakes 09 - Glacier Explorer

The walk up towards the Dawson Pass was great, cool and the lighting was amazing.

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When we arrived at pass, we also saw about 10 bighorn sheep.

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Two even butted heads silhouetted by a sea of mountains.

Pretty beer commercial of them.

Above Dawson Pass is a shoulder of Flinch Peak and from there extends a flat almost goat trail that leads four miles along the continental divide.

Most hikers enjoy the views as they stroll effortlessly along the spine of the continent.

Nyach Lakes 12 - Glacier Explorer

We, instead surveyed for a good route down to two arbitrary bodies of water at the bottom of a truly enormous valley.

As we sat enjoying a snack and making decisions, two CDT hikers passed by.

A French Canadian guy was hiking with an older fella with a ZZ TOP beard and a Mountain Hardwear kilt.

Off course he did, why wouldn’t he?

We exchanged plans.  They told us that they would watch as we descended the slope.

If they saw anything catastrophic, they would hit the emergency button their SPOT locator.  We hoped they would not have to do it, but always nice to have people watching out for you.

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The whole time I planned this trip, I figured that I would have two nasty marshes to jump into if I waited too long into the season.

In hind sight I think we stumbled into the best possible scenario.

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There is a series of cliffs that a month earlier would still have been running water and making everything slick along with steep.

Instead we found a perfect set of cliffs.

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Every time we looked further down slope it seemed they we would cliff out and when we got to there, it was a manageable way to continue.

Thus we dubbed them the illusion cliffs.

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The brush on the other hand was horrendous.

Fifteen foot high alder bushes interspersed with prickly whatnot.

Pat forgot to wear convertible pants.  So, when it got nasty, I tossed on my pant legs then threw the gaiters over them.

He is an animal, but his knees were on fire throughout the whole bushwhack and what he said was way into the night.

We plodded though a thick curtain of brush for about an hour.

We tripped a few times over invisible downed trees and Pat even bent one of his trekking poles.

Nyach Lakes 17 - Glacier Explorer

After a while you pretty much lose your mind.

It’s impossible for me to explain the weirdness that ensues when you have been being ripping through mile after mile of plant material.

You have to constantly be yelling so you don’t surprise a bear…

Bushwhacking is a part of this project that never ceases to seem odd.

Why on earth are we doing this?

We are so far beyond the middle of nowhere, screaming and hollering and somewhere , somehow…

We find this fun.  We are happy.

Happy screaming at the top of our lungs such inane things as “Bob Saget” and my uncle’s friend Joe Buckles name.

Or, how about Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes like “get on the choppa”!!


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Well, eventually we popped out of the brush into a huge marsh.

But, like I said, it was perfect.  It was all dry.

It would have been awful, almost impossible earlier in the season.

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So, I put on my water shoes and Pat his Croc’s and we started plodded through foot deep mud enroute to the lakes.

Nasty as it may have been, it worked.

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I hopped in the upper lake which was so much nicer than I had ever expected.

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I stayed in my swimming trucks and we just pushed down the creek to the lower lake, and hopped in.

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Pat has the luxury to pick the lake he wants to swim, since he is just along to make sure I don’t kill myself.

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He picked the pleasant lower one with a great view of Mt. Tinkham in the distance.

We enjoyed a short 30 minute lunch, swim, water pumping, video filming and pixie sticking….


Pixie Sticking?

Well, no matter how much water you drink to rehydrate, you are also losing salts.

So, we bring Gatorade mix with us.

There is simply too much time involved in mixing it, so we just pour the powder in our mouths and wash it down with a swig of water.

Nyach Lakes 24 - Glacier Explorer

Like eating pixies sticks.

More or less, it works.

I kinda like it, really.

I can’t express how disheartening it was to sit by these lovely little lakes looking up at the ridge we had to regain.

We just did it.  Why did we have to walk back?

I mean, REALLY?


I actually see trips like this as being a good analogy for life.

I can’t just build a house.

I can’t not do it.

You just, pick yourself up and keep going.

Hard as it may be, you gotta just do it.

So, we headed out towards the task at hand.

Nyach Lakes 25 - Glacier Explorer

We kept trying to figure out where the trail was…

Somewhere above that grey strip of rock.  A few hundred feet above it.

Did I mention…Uh…

Also, I can’t find my bear spray.


I couldn’t find it.

Nyach Lakes 26 - Glacier Explorer

I hopped the creek and went back looking for it, but no luck.

So, off to the thickest of the thick and now… also defenseless.

Nyach Lakes 27 - Glacier Explorer

So, I stayed that much closer to Pat who had the sole bear spray.

Nyach Lakes 28 - Glacier Explorer


The brush seemed a bit better headed up hill for some reason, but I think it was that we were just over it.

Climb over a down tree, Check.

Walk directly into Alder bushes and brush seven feet above our heads…Check.

Just, HOME!

Nyach Lakes 29 - Glacier Explorer

The rock and cliffs though seemed well worse headed up hill.

Nyach Lakes 30 - Glacier Explorer

Loose scree, talus slopes, the illusion cliffs…

Nyach Lakes 31 - Glacier Explorer


Nyach Lakes 32 - Glacier Explorer

All a race with time as we just simply didn’t have that much daylight left.

Nyach Lakes 33 - Glacier Explorer

At one point, when I was just beat and staring uphill at Pat whose young legs carry him faster up the steep slopes, he yelled out.


Nyach Lakes 34 - Glacier Explorer

Pixie Sticks or not, I had started getting cramps in my hamstrings.  His shouts of joy pushed me uphill and on to the trail though.

We had an hour and half before complete darkness.  We had to drop 3000 feet in 4 ½ miles…And we had to haul it.

Nyach Lakes 35 - Glacier Explorer

Dig for that extra energy that really doesn’t exist.  Just the thought of missing our friend’s boat pick up spurred us on.  We didn’t want to do even more miles and in the dark.


Nyach Lakes 36 - Glacier Explorer

As in hurry as we may have been, we had to stop for a couple pictures on Dawson Pass.

Not often are you sitting on top of a huge pass at sunset.

Normally you make sure you aren’t stuck in that situation.

So, you have to click a few.  Thanks Pat, for making me stop a minute.

Amazing View!

Nyach Lakes 37 - Glacier Explorer

So, we ripped it out.  Somewhere along the way we decided that we were going to scream like the guys selling beer at a baseball game.

Instead of beer and peanuts, we were selling Tepid Huckleberries…

Don’t ask.  I don’t know.

So, as we bombed down the pass towards Two Medicine Lake, we were selling “TEPID HUCKS” in our best Brooklyn accent.  I bet the poor people staying at No Name Campground hadn’t a clue of what these two Looney’s we yelling about…

But we liked it.

Got to the boat dock at dark, picked up and by our friend and whisked away to a grilled cheese sandwich and cold lemonade….  Well, and a beer.

But, oh the Lemonade!!!

To Life!

So how about you? Have you ever had to do something that you knew you were gonna hate, but then it ended up being pretty good? If so, tell me about it in the comments. (Did I mention I’ve got a new commenting system *hint *hint.)

Aurice Lake Grizzlies – The Passing of a Legend

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Aurice Lake and Two Medicine Pass will be etched in my brain for the rest of my days.

Where were you when the last tragedy of your life struck?  At home, at work, stuck in traffic?

Poetically when my Uncle Marty and outdoor mentor passed away, I was high atop Two Medicine Pass.

I’ve been wondered lately…Where exactly I was at the moment he died.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Was I sleeping in my tent at Cobalt Lake?

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Was I trudging up the pass with my heart pounding in my chest?

Photo by Chelsea McCann

Was I sitting on the continental divide looking off at a sea of peaks?

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Or, was it the exact moment when we surprised a grizzly bear sow and cub above Aurice Lake?
Personally, I like that one.

Behind Mt. Rockwell is a sidestep route to Aurice Lake.

It was a perfect day if not a tad hot.

Pat, Chelsea, Jess, Chris and I ambled along high above the Park Creek valley.

We pushed along the route of wild flowers, bear grass and burnt trees; waiting to boot ski down a scree slope to the lake edge.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

As we rounded the bend, it sounded like someone slipped down the steep slope of vegetation.

Instead, it was the two bears churning soil and huffing as they tore up the hillside towards the vertical rock walls.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

We could see the Aurice Lake below, but couldn’t see where the mother grizzly had secured her cub.

We knew there wasn’t more than 200 feet of vegetation above us before it became sheer cliffs.

So, they couldn’t be any more than that short distance from us.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

Never a comforting feeling and certainly not a situation you need to continue pursuing.

She deserved her peace.

This is one thing I’ve learned through the years.

Just because we feel it logical to traipse around in the complete middle of nowhere doesn’t mean the wildlife should have to suffer.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

Sometimes you let a good mother alone.

She did exactly what she was supposed to do.

At that point, what makes it ok to continue pushing her even further from her comfort zone.

She had found a perfect little niche far away from the main human traffic.

She’s teaching her cub to eat natural foods instead of going the easy route of human garbage and opportunism.

She deserves that peace that she sought.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

This is the moment that I hope signifies when my uncle left this world.

He began all of my travels, my love affair with far away, wild places.

He taught me to camp in bear country.

How to appreciate being a moment in time in a place in which humans are only a temporary visitor.

He taught me that I’m a part of this world, not the only or most important thing in it.

That when you are extended the opportunity to exist in such amazing places, you are then responsible for taking care of them.

Humility in the face of something well larger than us.

Photo by Chelsea McCann

He may have never known that this is what he taught me.

He knew that he was the spark that sent me exploring the amazing pockets of the world that we have left.

I told him that, often.

He was the person that introduced me to the greatest exercise program in the world.


He knew that he had totally transformed a heavyset city boy who was struggling with direction and identity.

He knew, but it’s always nice to tell someone again.

What they mean to you.

What they taught you.

What you do that makes you think of them.

Photo by Chris Lombardi

So, Uncle Marty.  You changed my life and helped me live so much bigger than I ever thought possible.

By just being you.

You were a genuine man, an adventurous traveler and an absolute character.

I never made it to Aurice Lake that day, but I will be back…

Today was for the bears and something bigger than me.
To Life

Pocket Lake…and thanks to National Geographic

Pocket Lake. Well, well, well…It’s August, 2010 and somehow this is my first blog entry. Instead of recounting my reasons for being so busy, I will recount the lake that jarred loose the keyboard.

Pocket Lake.

Oh, but before I do that, I want to thank the people at National Geographic. In three days (August 30, 2010), there will be a documentary called Glacier National Park – Wild Spaces that will make its debut on the National Geographic Channel.

Any of you who love the park, have interest in the wild corners of the world, or just want to see me with a farmers tan jumping in cold water should tune in.

It is about the park in general, but for me it marks the first national exposure of the Waterton Glacier Lake Jumping Project. I’m obviously out of my mind excited!!!

So, where was I…?

Oh, Pocket Lake.

Jump Stats brought to you by The Jump Tracker 3000

Pocket Lake - Jump #132

Pocket Lake – Jump #132

  • Lake: Pocket Lake
  • Lake Jump: #132
  • Completion Date: August 20, 2010
  • Distance: 29 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Off Trail Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation Change: 4500 feet
  • Length of Trip: 2 days
  • Lake Jumpers in attendance: Jessi Adams


So, for the first time in this busiest of summers, my now wife Jess and I went on a backpacking trip. You get three days off together around here and you jump on it.

The trip started off in the tiny outpost of Goat Haunt which is accessed by going to Waterton National Park in Alberta.

We caught a tour boat back down to the southern end of the lake. From there, we struck off to the west towards an amazing area called Boulder Pass.

On the way to our first night of camping, we cooled off in Thunderbird Pond. This lake is on the list, but I got to it many years ago. Still good for a nice dip.

The first evening we camped at Brown Pass Campground which is just above Bowman Lake.

It has been a little while since we had been up in these parts so both Jess and I were super excited.
There was a bountiful crop of Montana’s famous huckleberries. Its funny. Although they keep you going, they also seriously slow you down.

But, there is no better distraction. Bears have it figured out, folks.

So, the next morning we drug our tent a few miles up hill to a site called Hole in the Wall. From here we continued up hill, the trail meandering through the rock bands to Boulder Pass.

Would you believe that in the earlier parts of the 1900’s this whole picture would have been filled with Boulder Glacier and the trail had to lead up on the moraine in the right hand side of the picture.
Lots of things have changed around these parts since then.

Its amazingly open up on top of Boulder Pass. It is so newly melted out that there is no vegitation hardly at all. Just open views!!

Just over the pass we had to go off trail to the top of a ridge.At the bottom was the long awaited Pocket Lake.

We had to drop off of this ridge and work our way through some cliff bands, steep grass and flower filled slopes to get to the lake.
I don’t have any pictures of our way through the cliff bands. That is probably because I did not like it.

Funny thing about never being somewhere before. You almost always pick the less than perfect route.
Sometimes, you end up finding yourself with your heart racing as you hold onto a tree limb and try to scoot yourself down a wet rock band covered in moss. Just sayin’….Sometimes that happens…Jess kept her cool and pulled me through. You’re the best! We made our way along a huge bench above the lake and then down broken cliff bands and grassy slopes down to the lake.

The lake was amazing. Somehow we scored three spectacular days of sunshine and calm weather. This would have been impossible if the storms moved in on us. This is one of the highest elevation lakes in the whole park.

So, I’d like to give a little shot out to the weather….
Lets give it up for the weather!!Thanks everyone.We still had to get out of this enormous “pocket” though. So since we were losing daylight we had to head out and climb back up to the pass.
Thankfully, there was a much more pleasant way back through the cliffs. Its always upon return that you figure this stuff out. We had to make our way back along the shelf to the grassy ramp in the top middle of the picture.

We knew it was “the way in” when we saw that there was a nice animal path up the ramp. Steep and slippery, but well more straight forward.

Once back up top, we bid Pocket Lake farewell and headed on. We still had miles to make.

The view from atop Boulder Pass looking back towards Goat Haunt is about as good as it gets in the park. Wow!!

And with the last hour or so of sunlight for the day, we dropped back down to camp. The light softening the colors on the peaks we were surrounded by.

To finish the story, we made a late morning of it the next day. Felt like we earned a bit of sleeping in.

Good bye Boulder Pass. Good bye, Bowman Lake. Good bye, Goat Haunt.

I would like to point out to anyone reading this blog for the first time, that I have many past adventures to read about. So, continue sifting through the blog. Check out all of the other parts of the website too.

Anyone that has searched out the Waterton Glacier Lake Jumping Projects website, Welcome!!

I’ve been trying to harness this project to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to raise money for Camp Mak A Dream. I have been working on the project for seven years now.So, thanks for popping by.

If you donate,….well your awesome.

If you check out the site and enjoy yourself enough to tell others then, you are Awesome too.

I have 34 lakes left after the six I’ve done this summer so far. I’ll keep plugging if you keep reading and following along.

Till then, I bid you farewell.

To Life,
Marc Ankenbauer

Nooney,Wurdeman, Howe, Rogers, Arrow, Trout and six other Canadian Lakes – I was busy

Good evening,
It’s been an amazing summer, for sure.
In the last five or six weeks since I wrote alot has happened. I nabbed seven more lakes in Glacier. That brings the totel to 86. Then came the decision that I was going to include Waterton National Park in the lake bid project. So there was a push that incorporated seven lakes up there which brought the totel to 13. 99 in all, need one more before I leave…..I’m running out of time.
So, let’s get started.
I went to a place called Trout Lake.

Some of you may know this as one of the sites of the famous “Night of the Grizzly”maulings. For those that don’t know, here is a quick over view.

The first Grizzly maulings in Glacier NP were in mid August of 1967. Two different girls were killed on the same evening by two different bears in two different spots at virtually the same time. It had never happened before and now it happened twice in the same night.
My friend Pat and I went back there two days after the 40th anniversary.
Much has happened in the last 40 years in the world of bear management. Things are ran entirely different than they were back in 1967. That did not stop the weird vibe we got while we were standing there. Eeehhh….

So, we busted out Trout Lake, Arrow Lake and Rogers Lake. Rogers was a nice annoying thick bushwhack but the other two were right on trail. Great trip Pat. Hope Michigan is going well.

By far the biggest endeavor since last I wrote was finally tackling two of the five northern boundary lakes. There is a valley in my district that runs east west and was randomly placed by the mountain gods…directly along the 49th Parallel which is the line that delineates the border between the United States and Canada.

My friend Matt and I hiked up to the border and then dove directly into a pretty serious bushwhack. I think it was about five hours off trail just schwackin’ around in the berry bushes. You can see Lake Nooney and Lake Wurdeman from a real common trail in Canada. They are amazing lakes. Huh? This picture was taken many years ago and have been excited to down there ever since.
Matt thanks for helping me get these two.. I was impressed with you, those were cold lakes on cold days but we nailed em, huh? Great trip my friend.

By the way there is a jack-o-lantern face in this rock, huh?

Then there were the “worst” two lakes I’ve ever done…Nice distinction, huh?

Upper and Lower Howe Lakes. Two marshes on the western border of the park.
The trip was a good time though. My friend Clay and I headed back there one afternoon. He laughed the whole time cause all I did was lay down in them. I’ll spare you the pictures.They had to get done, but boy it’s moments like that were I can’t believe I opened my big mouth and said this was my goal. Cold water does not bother me, but mucky, muddy, goo does.
…but suck it up Sally and get in the freakin’ lake, huh?

Other than the lakes I dangled my feet off of Angels Wing with my girlfriend.


I decided to add the 30 named lakes in Waterton National Park in Alberta to the lakes project. We are Waterton/Glacier International Peace Park. Why not include them.

So, I’ll spare you the details but I drove around Waterton National Park and dipped by body in six lakes in about three hours. They were all either right off the road or just a real short hike. One was right below the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Six is six though, huh?
Best story entailed in this day was that I went swimming in a lake with a moose in it. No one else, just me and the moose swimmin’ in Akamina Lake together.

Just for the record they were Crandel, Akamina, Middle Waterton, Lower Waterton, Linnet, and Maskinonge Lakes.

As I was driving around I had to give way to a little family crossing the street. Does that not look like the Abbey Road album cover?

I hope everyone’s summer went wonderfully. I feel like I was the most blessed guy on the planet. I kept telling visitors that I felt like I won the lottery.

I have a bad habit of bringing the bummer at the end. I would like to dedicate this entry to a guy named Mark. I don’t know his last name, but he was cool and from Oklahoma. He worked out here for a few summers and we hung out and played some great music. He was a good guitarist, and a great guy. He died about a week ago, driving to work in Oregon. Either he fell asleep or his car gave out or something, but he went off the road and died. This park will miss him and he will miss this park. He attacked it in large bites, which is always admirable.

Now, since I’m sure Mark would prefer us happy…

I bring you a picture of a man hurding cattle with a 4 weeler on the side of the road in Babb, MT. Toto, I’m not in Cincinnati any more…

To Mark from Oklahoma…


To Life


Nahsukin,Gyrfalcon,Redhorn Lake – The Adventure

This Blog Entry is Dedicated to “Billy”, most know him as Brad. Have a great year back in college. This trek would not have been done without you.

Good Morning everyone,

That’s right, I’m casting off my nighttime literary window and trying the morning. Hopefully this entry will be fueled by the big mug of coffee that is sitting next to me and the refreshing light that is streaming in my front window.

I have some things going on that start in the late morning, so for right now I would like to tell you a story of what is easily the most elaborate lakebid, and one of the most hectic trips that I have ever taken in all my days of hiking.

Waterton Lake is fed by the Waterton River which flows north into Alberta. It then connects to larger rivers and eventually to the Arctic Ocean. The headwaters of Waterton River is called Nahsukin Lake. It is about 11 miles south of Goat Haunt, but after 7 miles it becomes a valley without a functional trail and clogged with downed trees, alder bushes, and every other random piece of wildly thick vegetation that grows in the Northern Rockies. This lake will be the base camp of what is now called the Nahsukin, Gyrfalcon, Redhorn Adventure.

At this point every year, Glacier National Park becomes very fire prone and quite smoky from fires that pretty much rip holes in the mountainous west. This year is no different. Although there are no fires in Glacier itself, it gets a lot of smoke from fires west and north of it, and that smoke actually makes for amazing sunsets. It’s particulate matter in the sky that makes sun sets vary in color and intensity. Honestly, that is why many cities have great sunsets, odd concept.

The evening we left was no different.

My partner in crime, Brad and I hiked five miles south before sunset.

As we left, the sunset was amazing. The tour boat came in for it’s last run and the lake was washed with a classic wildfire/smoke orange glow.

Mt. Cleveland was glowing with an amazing alpen glow as he headed south to our camp for the night.

In the morning we waded across the Waterton River and dove off the maintained trail that we will eventually yearn for through the next few days. There once was a trail to Nahsukin Lake……about 50 years ago. Many trees fall, and vegetation fights back to reclaim a lot of trail in 50 years. Luckily, animals still take the path of least resistance and in this case some of that least resistance is the old trail…Let me impress upon you that just because I say the word trail does not mean that it is anything more than a spot between bushes that is slightly more trampled than the rest.
You start looking for trees that have broken branches or an old log that has been torn up by hooves and paws, a slight path through the grass. Nothing obvious, you have to be paying attention.

Often there was absolutely nothing to follow. We just decided that to keep the same direction as the lake, and dive right on in there. Maybe wear sunglasses, to protect from a random branch to the face.

You fall a lot, which Brad did quite often on this trip.

You take a good old spider web to the face more than you can count.

You even eventually, start losing your mind and decide that walking straight up a creek drainage would at least be without thick vegetation.

But, after four miles, you eventually end up at Nahsukin Lake. A wild place where, Brad saw a wolf for a split second, before it dipped back into vegetation.

By the time we got to the lake, it was time to crash. Ate a slight bit and just went to sleep. We had a long day to be ready for, so right now the best thing we could do was just sleep. Morning will come very soon.

Morning on Nahsukin Lake is a place that the local animal population does not expect to see human beings. One or two people a year may force their way up here. Not enough to make animals change their natural routines.

We were pumping water from the lake shore in the morning and two Wolverines were running down the shore directly at us. When they saw us they quickly turned 180 degrees and run halfway around the shore line. It was amazing to watch how they effortlessly hopped rock to rock inches above the lake with no thought that they might lose their footing and end up in the drink.

In this picture, Brad is pointing towards the direction they ran. In the background you can see a very thick dark green section of vegetation directly above the lake shore.

The wolverines ran on the rocks, we as human beings can’t cling to those same rocks so we have to thrash through that vegetation. What took them about a minute to get past, took us about an hour of sweaty cussing as we “walked” through the alder thicket. It’s like this stuff is alive, it grabs you and has a thousand squiggly branches that pull you down. We were on a 70 degree angle essentially standing on alder as we swung from branch to branch. When I neared the end, I noticed I had lost one of my prize trekking poles. I looked for 20 minutes, but it was gone, gobbled up by the alder bushes.

Brad had broke one of his on the hike in yesterday, so I figured that this was the oman of the trip and I should just sacrifice it to the lake gods.

So, after the alder, we climbed up the bowl at the end of the lake. It was big rocks and angular streches of slick vegetation, but it was also early in the day and we over came this section in about an hour.

Allow me to tell you now, we eventually hike for 14 hours today before we stumble with bleary eyes back to Nahsukin Lake. Big Day Folks…Big Day…

At the top we look down on an amazing view of the entire Waterton River drainage and Nahsukin Lake. The furthest left hand mountain is Mt. Cleveland, the highest in the park.

Our camp was at the far end of this lake towards the mountains.

From here we continue to climb up sloping rock slabs to a lake called Gyrfalcon Lake.
Through this process we are walking literally on the continental divide. There are actually two lakes that are astride the continental divide.

Interesting to look at, they look like two normal lakes. But the left one flows east to the Atlantic Ocean and the one on the right flows west to the Pacific Ocean. This “continental high point” is easy to see normally when it is a jutting mountain, but when it’s a slight hump of dirt and rocks sepertating two lakes it’s much more difficult to visually understand.

Gyrfalcon Lake looks amazing on a map, high in the mountains and surrounded on all sides by glaciers and rock…well above tree line. This is the last little tree I saw, think it has a windy rough winter up here?
Gyrfalcon Lake has been on the agenda for years, to finally arrive was pretty great for me.

In celebration, I went swimming….

Not to linger too long, because we have hardly even begun today’s endeavor. From here we head north along the west side of the continental divide and attempting to decipher which of these two saddles has to be gained and climbed over.

On the way we came across a bunch of small lakes, they were great.

No names though, so along we went.

Through much mapping and debate we eventually pick the higher elevation of the two saddles and climb our way to the top of it.

I’m was so happy that we picked the right one, if not we would have had to down climb the same thing and keep going. From the top, I looked down on one of the most remote lakes in the park.

Redhorn Lake. Although it looks plain enough, the valley that it lies at the head of has never had a trail and is a long, bear infested bushwack…..or you simply climb all the way around Nahsukin mountain and come in from a saddle above it….

That’s obviously what I planned here today..

The wooded ridge behind me is what will eventually be climbed to start making our way back towards Nahsukin Lake. But for now, we have a long slog back down this rocky slope to Redhorn Lake. By this point we were about 10 hours into the day and this was just getting long.

Just from the completely different angle. The major snowy section of mountains that I was looking at that morning in late June was where I was standing right now. Much drier and less terrifying than it would have been then.

At the bottom of the valley I found an interesting thing. A 20 foot tree suspended on top of a 40 foot high rock.

It made me think, boy there must be a lot of snow here in the winter. That tree was placed there in the middle of winter as it slid down a slope in an avalanche and got stuck up there. There was a snow in this spot that was at least 40 feet high. Welcome to the Northern Rockies…Jeez

Then, that’s right, we went swimming…Great lake, loved it and really not too cold at all. Refreshed me for what I had to come.

We climbed directly up a vegetation covered Stairmaster. This was one of the steepest things I had ever walked up, honestly…

From this point we had to continue over this real big, broad ridge to get above Nahsukin Lake. We went though a big avalanche blow down and up and over all kinds of what not to get to the end of this ridge…12 hours in now…

We walked up to the edge in a spot which was in no way where we had planned on coming down….We casually walked up to the edge and expected to see a big slope covered in grasses..rough enough at this point, but instead we popped out right on top of a monster cliff looking down 2000’ at the lake…Ahhhhh..

So, we had to thrash back through the woods to find the slope we had planned on….We eventually found it and side stepped, fell down and cussed our way along for two hours…

Trying to work at a 45 degree angle back towards our camp…I’m sure it was because we were working on hours 13 and 14 of the hike, but this felt like it was by far the worst part. Add on top of that, we were running out of daylight…

Would you believe that we ended up at our tent at about 9:45 PM about 10 minutes before dark settled in….There was no interest in eating food or anything else…We climbed in to our tent and went directly into the most needed sleep of my life…

In the morning we work up, and swam in Nahsukin Lake.

I had to look directly at the alder thicket that held my trekking pole captive. I had no interest in looking for it. I was beaten by the alders and they won the trekking pole battle.

On our way back out, Brad broke his second pole and we broke out in what was the most insane, off our rocker laughter. We had both lost our beans on our trip and we had nothing left but to cackle like crazy men…

We thrashed back through our 4 miles of forest until we finally found our beloved maintained trail. Seven more miles of trail and we arrived back in Goat Haunt…We may have won the war, but we lost many, many battles…

If in your hiking life you ever question what it is that trail crew does for you….Just ask me… Cause if you just jump off of that magical maintained pathway…You will want to buy them dinner by the time you get back on it….At least in the brushy, wild Waterton Valley..

…To the trail magicians of our parks…I raise my glass…PROST!!!

TO LIFE!!!!!!!!!


Jackstraw and Swiftcurrent Ridge, Poia Lakes – Wisdom and Booby-Junk Leeches

So, has anyone ever heard of booby-junk leeches? This is more a goofy entry sentence than legitimate question. Everyone knows that right?

Allow me to expand….

My friends Josh and Laura went a swimmin’ with me the other day. Laura who is daughter of one of my most devout readers Chris Kloeck, by the way. Hi, Chris…Thanks for the 70’s TV show insights…

We went to a far flung reach of the park. In the southeastern corner of the park there is a place called Firebrand Pass. People run around here for years before they ever go there. Not because it’s particularly hard, nor cause it’s not wonderful. I think it just gets overshadowed by some of the other, simply jaw dropping parts of the park. Which ends up making this a very peaceful and more wild portion of the park.

Quite nice, really…

So, near Firebrand Pass is Lena lake, and behind it is a saddle. It’s a nice red scree covered saddle between Redcrow Mountain and Bearhead Mountain.

On the other side of that saddle is Jackstraw Lake. And, Jackstraw Lake will be the focus of our adventure today.

This lake is dedicated to Mountain Goats and their wonderful ability to go where no one else goes and leave “a path”….So, about four miles in towards Firebrand pass, we embarked off trail towards Lena lake and the saddle. We had to fight through some thick sub-alpine firs to get there, like normal.

Once at Lena lake though, we found what would prove to be a straight shot mountain goat path up the saddle, and all the way back down to Jackstraw lake.
Ah, you gotta love these mountain goats. I envisioned this to be a well more difficult endeavor.The views from the saddle were as great as any pass in the park and we had it all to ourselves. The tiny rewards in life, right?

We ended up down at what was a wonderful beach that must be the home of thousands of butterflies. They were all over our packs and hiking poles. Pretty great!!

But in come those dreaded booby-junk leeches!!!!!… My girlfriend would say “dun,dun,dun!!!

Like you were listening to a mystery show on the radio in the 50’s and we just learned who the killer was. Very dramatic…

We were swimming in this lake and all was wonderful. Hot days ended in a moment with cold clear water.

Then we noticed one goofy thing about it…As beautiful and blue as it was, there was no outlet, and not much feeding it. So, Jackstraw Lake had already dropped maybe about 15 feet for the season. That may be a major environmental factor that booby-junk leeches thrive on. Their niche, if you will.

I’ll come clean; they were nothing even resembling leeches….Cats outta the bag. But they were tiny little red bugs they were all over the place in the water. They got their menacing name because since they were red it looked like they were filled with blood. And, because Josh found them in his swimming trunks and well “around”…and Laura found them in her sports bra and again, well…”around”…As for me, no booby junk leeches…It’s because I’m bald like a dolphin and booby-junk leeches don’t attack marine animals. Boy, did I luck out, huh? I’d say…jeez…So, we rambled on about our dreaded nemesis the booby-junk leeches as we trudged back up hill and over the saddle…Back to our view at the top..

Bound for a wonderful dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in East Glacier, Serrano’s…All ends well, despite our harrowing encounter…

As for the next day, I met up with another one of my other most avid readers, Dave. He is out here staying for a few weeks with his wife and hiking it up. He is a monster; the guy can hike over mountains in a single bound while filling you with gobs of wisdom and insight. So, I took him up on a very nice hike to one of the only areas in Many Glacier valley that was not closed for Grizzly bears. Poia Lake was our destination.

We stopped by Poia and Swiftcurrent Ridge lakes for a swim and he dropped knowledge about all the righteous things of the world. Great hike Dave. All in all, what a wonderful weekend.

I hope this finds every one well. I’m wishing you all the best and I certainly thank you for your time. I know these stories personally. So this stuff is for all of you. I would love to hear how every one is doing and what you’re all up to.

As for me, about 6’4” 240lbs…
Drum roll!!!!! Anybody? Hello….

Jeez, this is a tough crowd


To life,


Snow Moon-Lincoln and the 4th….

Well hello all,First of all, I would like to thank many of you for you comments and emails. I write this a little bit for my self but without knowing that people are reading it…its kind of tough to put the time in. So, thank you for your support…I feel like I’m running for office..Jeez..So, back to business. The last week has been…well..HOT actually..Eek!!!

It topped out at 94 the other day…That is just too hot for mountians.  They are supposed to be cold, right?

To give you some understanding of how long this endeavor is going to take.  This is the second 3 lake weekend since I started.  They are just not that easily gain and especially not any longer.  They are all labors.

On Tuesday, my girlfriend and I did an off trail route along a crazy cliff edge that wraps around a mountain and eventually pops us out at two lakes. They are called Snow Moon and Falling Leaf lakes. Amazing lakes too.. It’s been a long time coming for these two since it’s only about 1 ½ miles from the parking lot of Many Glacier Hotel, but not one step is on a maintained trail. Although through the years it has been done so many times, that there is a path. That path leads through the forest and pops out into a scree slope or a field of tiny rocks that is called the “Red Scree Strolls” in the climbing guide. We saw a first year baby grizzly bear dropping off the side of the slope. Where was momma? Dunno…We became a lot louder and kind of gave it a little time before we continued. Eventually you find this path and it follows along the top of a cliff that runs all the way around Mt. Allen.

There may be a trail but aside from it, you’re just a couple thousand feet above Lake Sherburne.
Eventually, it gives way and you drop into a bowl on the side of the mountain and two amazing blue lakes are just sitting there for the swimming. Perfect day for it.

The next day was the 4th of July and it was not a perfect day for anything but laying in water. I decided to surrender the park to the visitors and the heat. A couple dips in the St. Mary river and some fireworks and a grill out…No hiking..

But the next day. Oh, the next day. I decided that if I was serious about the lake idea, then it was time to chomp off a couple of the less enjoyable lakes that no one wants to do with me. So, I dubbed it “crappy lakes that no one wants to do with me” day. Catchy? Huh?

I woke up early and drove the Going to the Sun Road to the west side. The road just opened for the year because of large washouts in November. So, this was my first trip of the year. For those of you who do not know Glacier very well, the west side is lower elevation than the east side. This makes it warmer and covered in much heavier vegetation. This sometimes makes for long approaches to murky, marshy lakes. I ask a lot of my friends, but none of them want to jump in a marsh on a 90 degree day that they had to walk 20 miles round trip to get to. So, I do it my self. All for the love of this goofy project.

So, I digress. I woke up early and got to Johns Lake.

This lake is right off the side of the road, and the marshiest of them all. Marshy enough to have leaches swimming around in it. I DECIDED TO WAIT!!!!!!!!! I figured, I could go against last weeks statement and possibly just do it in the winter and break a hole in the ice. Or, maybe I’ll just get a wet suit or something…But, for a nasty lake that was half a mile from the trail, I figured I could only benefit from waiting.I then wondered up a steep forested ridge for 2 ½ miles till I got to Fish Lake.
This was not quite as bad as Johns. At least I could not see leaches swimming all over the place.
I then did a little plop in-between the lily pads and on to reevaluating my day.I had the option to hike 2 ½ miles back out and end the day. Or, and there is always an or.
I could continue hiking another 17 miles round trip to the king daddy of “nobody wants to do it” land.
Lincoln Lake is an 8 mile, one way hike through nondescript forest to a…..well, an alright lake.
Its home to the highest waterfall in the park. It’s somewhere up in the teens. 1300’ maybe. Something like that. But it’s still not great even with that characteristic.
So, needless to say I hiked in heinous heat up and down and up and down and though the woods to grandmas house to get to the lake. It kind of rotted.
But it’s done. Yeah!!! And it brought me to a grand total of 71 lakes jumped in. That makes me happy.

So, close your eyes and envision your friend Marc. Ok, got it?

So it was so hot as I was walking out, that I started dipping a camp towel and my hat in every steam I came to and plopping it on my head and neck. It kept me cooler and protected me from the sun. Compounding on top of that was the onslaught of classic west side mosquitoes. You feel like they are just in a cloud trying to chase you down. Honestly, at this point your closing in on just losing your mind Your only defense is to keep on walking.

So, as quickly as I could put on a mosquito shirt. For those that do not know what this is, it’s a shirt made of tight mesh so they can’t get to you. Well, I start hiking as fast as I can, bombing down hill with a mosquito shirt on, and a wet towel and floppy hat on my head and neck.

Trekking poles in hands, just trying to Zen out and get to the blasted road. I pop out into a parking lot with a poor unsuspecting couple standing there. I’m filthy, drenched with water/sweat with this ridiculous get up on. Blathering on about bugs and lakes and what not. I was a sight.

I beleive that someone else had the same opinion of this lake…..

Who says the life of a lake bidder is glamorous. Well, I honestly think no one says that….

Actually, what in the world is a lake bidder anyway, most would say….You now know the answer to a very seldom asked question.

I will leave you with that vision. I can do no better. I’m pretty tired and must pack for my days off. I’ll keep you informed of my endeavors this weekend.

But you must stop back to see what they are…since, really I have no idea what they will be…Yeah, no plans..

To Life,