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Friday, September 27, 2013

Adventure Honeymoon 2013 - Epic Journey Day 3

Start: Hole-in-the-Wall Campsite
Camp: Goat Haunt Shelters
Mileage: ~10.7 miles plus ~2 miles with spurs to Lake Francis Campsite and Rainbow Falls
Elevation Up: ~260 feet
Elevation Down: ~2440 feet

When we awoke, the morning was dreary and clouds already covered the sky. We quickly broke camp and ate our breakfast bars as raindrops began to fall. We were first out of camp as we all hustled to get into our rain gear and on the trail, as quickly as we could. By the time we had trekked the .6 mile from camp back up to the ridgeline trail, the rain had turned to sleet and was driving at us, exposed on the ledge, in the hard wind. We pulled up our hoods against the onslaught, heads bowed down, and hiked as quickly as we could down the trail, hoping the curve of the mountain and the pines further down would provide some cover.

After ~1 hour of hiking, Alex and Liam caught up to us, impressed at our speed. They asked if we had seen the grizzly and her 2 cubs and told of how they had walked up next to her, heard her growl and saw her just off the trail as they quickly continued past her. We had heard from the ranger that a sow and her cubs liked to hang out and play at the Hole-in-the-Wall campsite. We must have walked right past them. We found out later that night that the bears were on the trail by the time Terry and Christy reached them. The two women had to backtrack all the way to Hole-in-the-Wall as the bears followed and were stuck there until 2pm before they were able to leave and restart their hike.

After Alex and Liam caught us, Ben asked if we were willing to go their speed. We hung with them at their 3+ MPH pace for the next hour. Kari's little legs struggled to keep up at times but with 1.5x the cadence, her trekking poles and road-runner-like speed ups plus some running, she managed. When we reached Lake Francis, we bade our would-be tour guides farewell and headed down the trail to see the lake. There was a fallen tree on the trail (our list of things to discuss with the next ranger was getting longer). Ben smashed through the branches so that Kari could climb over. When we did reach the campsite, we found that the lake was gorgeous.

The sun had come out during our "power hour" with the Canadians, but our shoes were soaked through from the water on the vegetation - we even came up with a song:

There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.
There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.
There's a puddle in my shoe. And I don't know what do to.
There's a puddle in my shoe, in my shoe.

Do not worry, there are more verses coming to what will be an instant classic!

After a quick pit toilet stop, we were on our way again, soggy shoes squishing. The rest of our hike was much more scenic as the sun shone on the mountains and berry bushes around us.

By the time we reached the sign for Goat Haunt (.3 miles), our shoes had stopped squishing and we felt good enough to go on another spur so we continued on the supposed ".7 miles" up to Rainbow Falls. This is when we learned not to trust the mileage on signs to be completely accurate. When we did reach the "falls", we found a writhing river cascade, but neither a waterfall nor a rainbow. It did, however, make a nice spot to take out our lunch. Perhaps in late spring, during heavy snow melt, there might be enough spray to produce a rainbow, but in late summer, "Rainbow Falls" was unremarkable.

After lunch, we backtracked and finished the short remainder of our hike to the Goat Haunt Ranger Station. Upon arrival (~3pm), the border patrolman gruffly asked whether we came from Canada. Satisfied that we had not, he then directed us to check-in with the ranger who would be back shortly. As we waited, we got our first good look at Waterton Lake - it was stunning!

The most beautiful scene we had seen since setting foot in Glacier. We can only hope that every backpacking visitor gets the opportunity to have that view with calm waters, fluffy clouds and blue sky.

After checking in with the ranger and learning about the campsites (cement-floored, covered shelters) and amenities (flush toiles with hand sanitizer, filtered water spigots, and trash cans!), Ben always thinking about food, asked what berries were edible. He was "stoked" to learn that all berries are edible and that he was allowed to eat a quart/day.

We hung our smellies and picked a shelter site with a great view of the lake, where Kari began laying out the tent parts to dry them from the last evening's rain. Ben filled the bottles with provided clean water from the spigot and took over drying and assembling the tent, while Kari took her still-soaked laundry from Hole-in-the-Wall and rewashed it with Dr. B's soap in the tiny bathroom sink (think tiny airplane bathroom). Kari also managed to take a moderately successful sponge bath (using her laundry) in the sink with Dr. B's! Woohoo!

With camp ready early, we went down to the end of the beach to soak our feet in the cold water and watched as the ferry from Canada arrived.

Tourists spilled off the boats and flooded the beach, running, shouting, laughing, and skipping rocks that splashed us, still sitting on our little log. When the tourists left, we laid back and let the moisture dry out of our feet. Ben had some pretty hugh pieces of skin detaching and Kari's were translucent white (early stages of "trench foot").On the walk back to the campsites, Ben wore Kari's flip-flops to protect his sore feet and picked up the tourist's trash from the asphalt walkway. The tourists had used up all the TP in the bathroom and Ben had to sanitize the way he had been instructed by the Hole-in-the-Wall reading material, by using our own limited TP supply and the hand sanitizer to wipe off the pee that was splattered all over the seat. Disgusting! Darn tourists!

For those unwilling to do a multi-day backpacking trip, we learned that Goat Haunt can also be accessed by taking a boat from the Canadian side. It is absolutely worth the trip out.

Just please do NOT leave pee on the seat!

A note on that:
Ladies: Don't hover! If no one hovered, there would never be pee on the seat!
Guys: Be realistic with your aim! It's only as long as it is! Keep the pee in the pot!

As we were finishing up our tasty, though slightly crunchy dinner of penne with chicken in spaghetti sauce, Terry and Christy straggled in, looking ragged. We had expected to see them get on the 5:30pm ferry with the tourists; however, plans had changed thanks to mama grizzly and the ladies regaled us with their story.

We concluded our evening by starting a fire in the fancy, schmancy fireplace in the pavilion, relaxing together on the benches in its warmth, and journalling before retiring for bed. While it was a little cloudy when we went to bed, we did get a peek at some beauitul stars over the lake when the sky cleared up and Kari stirred late that night.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park

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