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...

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.


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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.

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I took an early morning dip before breaking down camp.

Rounding out my new lake number to 22.

That feels like forever ago now.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Old Man Lake – With a National Geographic Film Crew – #117

Big News !!So, in the future when you hear about some knucklehead roaming around in the middle of the mountains trying to jump in every named lake in Waterton and Glacier National Parks……..It very well may be while watching a documentary about Glacier on the National Geographic Channel.
A very nice guy I know that holds a pretty high position in Glacier was contacted by National Geographic because they were doing a documentary entitled “Wild Spaces – Glacier National Park”. It is an installment of a series about the wildest National Parks in the country.
They were hoping to find a good human interest story about the park and he passed my story on to them.

They then contacted me and we worked out the specifics.

Actually it was funny, I checked my email one day and this was the subject title.

FW: National Geographic – Man who jumps in lakes.

I stopped for a moment and thought…Wait, that’s me…..

I was absolutely floored when I read the email. As you can obviously imagine.

They wanted to make sure they were doing a lake that I had never done before and capture the whole process on film.

That is not that easy to accomplish these days, as most of the lakes that I have not been to are getting to be extremely removed and inaccessible.

Luckily, for the last few years while I was making major strides in the project there has been a lot of grizzly activity at a lake called Old Man Lake. The campground at the lake has been closed for the last couple years, so I have been essentially ignoring it.

We really lucked out. There is nothing as beautiful and simultaneously still on a trail as Old Man Lake.

So, I drove to East Glacier on Wednesday and met Brian and Chad at the Two Medicine Grill for breakfast. Brian was the producer and Chad was his assistant.
We got to know each other a bit and off we went.

Perfect day for a swim. It was warm, blue skies, and not too much wind. Just enough to keep the bugs from being real bad.

They would stop me at a section and set up their video camera. Then they would have me walk across a foot bridge and then pan out to all of the mountains as I walked into the far distance.

The hardest part was a bit when we hit flat trail and the producer wanted to ask me some questions while we walked backwards. He was walked slowly backwards and would ask me interview questions with the camera in my face.
He would like what I had to say, but I would say “um” or walk off screen in the wrong direction, or look at the camera instead of him.

He would then have me say it again.

But the problem is that I don’t know what I said. I would then start to preface what I said earlier.
I realized that restating something with the same enthusiasm and as genuinely, over and over again is very tough. I give credit to actors.
I can’t recreate and plan spontaneity. It goes against the main tenants of the word spontaneity. Odd.

We got it though. When it comes out on video, hopefully you won’t even notice a difference. I did though.

We got to the lake and shot an interview and the actual swimming portion after lunch.

Actually, I did not eat lunch till after the shoot. I felt like if there was ever a moment in time that Marc Ankenbauer did not need to have a big lunch it was right before he took his shirt off for a documentary for National Geographic.

I was all fine with all of this. I mean it was a great honor and a once in a lifetime experience.
But, come on. Any of you out there that would like to be the big, bald, kinda frumpy bald guy with a farmers tan that was filmed for an hour with no shirt getting in and out of a mountain lake in broad day light.
I imagine if everything goes right and I make the editing process; you may very well be watching the sun bounce off of my white Montana farmers tan chest for many years to come in syndication while sitting around on a lazy Sunday afternoon watching TV on the couch.


It is what it is and I am very lucky to have gotten this much exposure. (Literally and figuratively) Ha-ha..

I was able to explain that I was raising money and awareness for childrens cancer. I’ll do most anything for that kind of help.

Anyway, back to the scene. All went wonderfully!!. They really went all out. They even submerged themselves with an underwater camera and had me swim over them and swim at them. Crazy. I still can’t believe that this happened. Know?

I mean they had me in a 40 something degree lake for about an hour off and on. Getting out, getting back in. Getting back out again. Swimming back and forth and back again.

Camera’s are funny things I’ll tell you..

I was told that this will not even air on National Geographic Television until about November of next year. We have plenty of time to wait.

Anyway, that is my story. Old Man Lake was number 117 in all. I have 51 left and it is high season for busting out some more.

I hope the summer is treating everyone very well.
Get out there and enjoy it. You will have your winter coat on before you know it.

To Life,