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Friday, September 27, 2013

Adventure Honeymoon 2013 - Epic Journey Day 1

Start: Boulder Pass Trailhead
Camp: Upper Kintla Lake Campsite
Mileage: ~11.6 miles
Elevation Up: ~400 feet
Elevation Down: ~0 feet

Morning came early, but we were ready to go when the alarm sounded. We hopped in the car and began the long drive to Kintla Lake and the trailhead. As we drove along the Outer North Fork Road, we saw the sun coming up over beautiful mountain scenes. Naturally, Ben broke out his camera to capture some of the moments.

Before too long, the pavement vanished and we found ourselves on a dirt road driving through deserted fields and past a couple of isolated shops - a restaurant/merchantile with 10s of signs on trees advertising internet, pizza, ESPN, etc, and a merchantile/town called Polebridge. We were glad for our having chosed to drive ourselves rather than hitchhike when we did not see any other cars on the road at all.

As we drove the final 15 miles of dirt road toward Kintla, the road became more and more potholed. It made dirt roads seem like newly paved in comparison. It became a game of dodge-the-hole, but at times the hole was the whole road and there was no way to win, but to hold on and hope the struts of the car held.

We snuck to the pit toilet at the Kintla Lake campground for a sneak peak of the lake and one last "civilized" rest stop. Then we put on our packs, locked up the car, and headed out on the trail.

On the trail, conversation flowed freely and Kari's bear bell tinkled as she walked. We saw bear tracks in the mud and bear scat on the trail (as well as other animal's). Kari started to figure out how to pee in the woods using mostly fallen trees to hold herself up and prop up her feet.

We passed several hikers going the other way and everyone was friendly - no bear sightings to communicate. We stopped for lunch just short of Lower Kintla Lake campsite and met a ranger on the trail - an older woman who could really move fast if she was keep up with and catching us! After checking our permit, she commented on how we had a great trip planned.

We stopped again by the ranger patrol cabin at the head of Lower Kintla Lake to admire the view. We heard what sounded like a wolf howl (the ranger said it was a loon) and saw a bald eagle glide over the lake to land in a tree.

We continued on hiking. Ben was very impressed by the pace Kari was setting. :-) We were not stopping often at all and were averaging an estimated 2 MPH.

Most of our hike was relatively flat and through the trees. At times, we were walking along the Lower Kintla Lake. We then walked through more trees and a burn zone while loosely following a river and waterfalls we could hear but not see well. We crossed a river finally and bumped into a group of 6 people who told us about a friendly guy named John who would be at our camp. We continued on and hit the scenic part of our hike along the Upper Kintla lakeside.

As we neared camp, Ben spotted a red food bag hanging across the water and our fervor was restored.

When we got into camp (around 2:30pm), we hung our food bags, somewhat successfully given that it was a first try for both of us, and went to the last camp site left to begin our "chores". Ben showed Kari how to pitch our tent, how to fill the dirty bottle by trailing it back and forth in the water and then how to filter it. It quickly became evident that filtering water was Kari's LEAST favorite camp chore. (Note: future blog post with pictures and how-to for camp chores to help those unfamiliar with the process). Then we sat in the food area to escape the biting flies while we made the firsts of our dehydrated dinners - Mexican Chicken & Rice for Kari and Sesame Chicken & Rice for Ben followed with a nasty apple crisp freeze-dried dessert (HUGE THUMBS DOWN!). Raisins, stay the heck out of our apple crisp!

Our fellow Upper Kintlans joined us in the food prep and riveted us with their stories of past trips. We met John from Helena (a self-employed, primarily light-commercial architect) who was out for the first of 4 backpacking trips in Glacier for that month. Tim and Laura from Indianapolis had been backpacking Glacier annually for the last 15-20 years. The three other guys were about our age, 2 from Atlanta and the third from Oregon (very proud of Mountain House). The Oregonian told us that the mountain on the package is Mount Hood and he also recognized the lake.

After some discussion about John's need for a -40 degree bag in the summer and watching Mars glide along the horizon over the beach, we went to bed.

Our first night in the tent and on the trail. Success!

When Kari laid down in her sleeping bag, she could smell the scent of her conditioner, strong in her hair and spent the early part of the night worried that every animal in the forest would smell her and that Tim's freak marmot would eat through our tent and chew off her hair. The rest of the night Kari struggle with an over-full bladder, refusing to go out to the pit toilet and brave the dark and the critters by herself.

Ben slept soundly.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park

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