Glacier National Park - Boulder Pass Trail - July 29, 2010 - Member Trip Report

Hike Name: Glacier National Park - Boulder Pass Trail
Country: United States
State: Montana
Trip Rating: 5 stars
Trip Date: July 29, 2010
Duration: 1 day
Trail Conditions: Good
Trail Traffic: Light
Trip Weather: Partly Cloudy
Trip Winds: Light to Moderate
Trip Precipitation: Thunderstorms
Trip Temperature: High: 61-70, Low: 31-40 degrees Fahrenheit
Trip Report: A thunderstorm rolled through the pass at 545AM today but it only lasted 30 minutes. I packed up and hit the trail at 820AM, skipping breakfast because as far as I could tell, the mosquitoes were intent on having ME for the main course. I hiked through the wet grass that grew tall beside the trail up into the top of the pass and then turned onto the Boulder Pass trail. I was hoping to escape the clouds of mosquitoes as I climbed but it was not to be. I went over a mile before I came out onto a part of the trail that dropped straight off into the valley far below and only then did the mosquitoes disappear.

Every step of the way on this trail opened fabulous vistas. In my whole long hiking career there are few trails to compare to the magnificence of the Boulder Pass trail. A whisp of cloud below me at the head of Bowman Valley grew before my eyes into a large billowing mass that streamed over Brown Pass behind me. It never quite reached me high on the mountainside.

When I rounded a bend in the trail almost 2 miles into the day's hike, I saw Hole-in-the-Wall below me. I also saw a solo hiker just leaving the campsite down in the cirque. A moment later, I picked out 3 more hikers on the far wall of the cirque crossing a snowfield in the climb to Boulder Pass. Four hikers within view at the same time, and this after seeing only one other person in 24 hours.

The 3 hikers had blazed a trail across the snow that still covered the trail on the westwall of the cirque. This part of the trail was dangerously steep to be walking on snow -- and I did not have an ice axe. I could tell by their tracks that the 3 hikers ahead of me also did not have ice axes, so I proceeded moving very carefully and slowly. Once through the 3 snowfields on the cirque wall, there was about 1.5 miles or more of snowy trail to traverse, but none of it was as steep as the first three. I did a lot of zig-zag walking to go around snow where I could, often moving from rock to bare spot and tryign to minimize the amount of snow I actuall had to walk through. The snow was pretty firm, but in places I post-holed and found it 3 feet or more deep.

Once through the pass and down below its icy wind, the descent into the Kintla Valley was almost tropical by comparison. Off came the fleece and the bottoms of my pants again as the day warmed up. I took the same amount of time to cover the 5 miles plus going down 3000' from the pass as I did covering the 5 miles plus going up 1200' into Boulder Pass. that was by design as I had plenty of time to enjoy the views and I also did not want to get footsore or blistered by pounding downhill too fast.

I pitched my tent in Upper Kintla Lake campground, finding one backpacker already there (he was on his way up). An hour or so later, the 3 hikers who had been ahead of me at Hole-in-the-Wall walked iinto camp (I had passed them on the downhill). A short time later we were joined by another solo hiker on his way up. I was very pleased to note that this camp of 6 people consisted of 3 men in their 60s, me (I am 58), and two youngsters in their 30s. It's good to know that the baby boomer backpackers are not all retired to their rocking chairs. We had a fine evening together in the food preparation area. Time on trail today 8hrs and 20min, total distance 11.2 miles.



11,550 points



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