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Belly River, Glacier

July 29, 2019

Mile 0 - Mile 9

Chief Mountain, Belly River Trail, Cosley Lake Cutoff, Stoney Indian Pass Trail  

The time we spent backpacking in Glacier National Park was the hardest thing I have done to date as far as hiking, but also the most exhilarating.We began our trek at the northeast entrance to the park, Chief Mountain.  A couple of miles of forested trail soon opened up to a beautiful valley with spectacuar views of the surrounding mountains. We followed the Belly River through the valley until we reached the Ranger Station. We enjoyed a quick lunch break and continued over the Belly River via a swinging bridge. Once over the bridge, we connected with the Cosley Lake Cutoff Trail. About two miles along this trail we took a highly recommended side trip to Gros Ventre Falls. After another mile or so back on the trail we arrived at our campsite on the shore of Cosley Lake. As the first to arrive, we had our pick of the sites. We set up camp, jumped in the icy cold lake, warmed up in the sun on the beach and ate a delicious meal with other campers that arrived through out the afternoon. After dinner we set out to climb Bear Mountain to watch the sunset. A rock outcropping provided great seats to watch the sun slowly fade and turn the mountains a beautiful auburn color. Total miles today, including our side trip and our Bear Mountain climb was about 14+, which made us all very ready for bed as soon as we got back to camp. 


July 30, 2019

Mile 9.0 - Mile12.7

Stoney Indian Pass Trail

Today's short walk to our next site was a welcome change after yesterday's longer hike. The almost 4 miles along Cosley and Glenns Lake were even sweeter due to the plentiful huckleberry patches we encountered!  After setting up camp we headed up the trail to Mokowanis Lake and Pyramid Falls.On our way back to camp we made our way through the woods near the bridge at the head of Glenns Lake to find White Quiver Falls. That night we dined and visited with hikers from Europe. We hit the sack early because tomorrow we climb!


July 31, 2019
Mile 12.7 - Mile 18.3
Stoney Indian Pass Trail

The views we saw today were worth every tired step that took us through them. Waterfalls, mountain lakes, and meadows filled with wildflowers were all around us as we climbed Stoney Indian Pass. The waterfalls plummeted down the mountain side into clear, deep blue lakes. The climb involved three steep sections with a "catch your breath" section in between. There was a chilly creek crossing between the second and third climbs. Our elevation gain was a little more than 2000 feet in 4 miles. I was parched and tired when we reached the top of the pass, but what an incredible moment! While we sat and enjoyed our lunch, a solitary mountain goat trotted up and lingered for a quick minute. Our last mile took us down the northwest side of the pass, around Stoney Indian Lake, and into the campsite at the west end of the lake. I would probably say this was my favorite campsite if it weren't for those pesky, nosy ground squirrels! After a quick dip in the icy cold lake and a little sun-soaking we ate our dinner with spectacular mountains rising into the sunset around us. 

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August 1, 2019
Mile 18.3 - Mile 25.7
Stoney Indian Pass Trail, Waterton Valley Trail, Waterton Lake Trail
We left our beautiful perch at Stoney Indian Lake and headed down into the Waterton Valley. While still surrounded by lush green forests, the unchanging scenery made this day's walk seem endless. The battle against the mosquitos made our breaks few and brief. We arrived at Goat Haunt by midday and turned west onto the Waterton Lake trail to find our final campsite. Tip of the day: take the horse crossing to the campsite. Following the trail to the pedestrian bridge added about a mile to our walk. After a quick lunch we headed back to Goat Haunt (via the horse crossing) to cool off in the crystal clear waters of Waterton Lake. Goat Haunt was not operational this year so we had the location to ourselves. We apent the afternoon at the beach and playing cards in one of the covered pavilions. Each night the campsites were completely full and this night was no different. Every night we enjoyed wonderful conversations with hikers from all walks of life. This night we spent several hours laughing and sharing stories.


August 2, 2019
Mile 25.7 - 8 Miles to Waterton Township , Canada
Waterton Lake Trail

Our original plan had us hitching a ride on the tour boats that originate in Waterton, dock at Goat Haunt, and return to Waterton. However, Goat Haunt was not open this year so plan B involved a 8 mile hike along Waterton Lake to return to our vehicle in Waterton Township. The first half of this last stretch was mostly level and presented close up views of the lake. We crossed the border into Canada and began rollercoasting up and down hilly terrain. About a mile short of town we stopped at a beach campsite for some lunch. Grateful for the fuel, we powered, or crawled, depending on your point of view, up our last steep climb. A brief photo on top and we made our final decent into town. As I caught sight or our waiting vehicle, bittersweet emotions washed over me. I was thrilled that we accomplished our goal, while also feeling sad that it was over. Five days and 45-ish miles from Monday and our adventure came to an end. 

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