Backpacking to Glenns Lake
Upon arriving to Montana one of our first endeavors was backpacking to the foot of Glenns Lake. We had originally planned for the hike to be a three day, two night trip but because of travel delays on our first day in Montana we had to make it two days and one night. Luckily I reserved a campground at St. Mary's Lake just incase this happened so we had a nice place to pitch our tent for the first night. Also, because we were late getting in our first night my backcountry permit was canceled. Per park policy, if you do not pick up your permit on the first day of your planned trip, your trip is canceled and your reserved backcountry campgrounds are available to the public to reserve. So, we woke up early the next morning and hiked straight to the closest Visitor Center and luckily no one had reserved our campground and we got it back and the trip was on! After confirming our itinerary and getting it approved we had to watch the mandatory backcountry video about safety and the wildlife and we were good to go! We packed up camp and headed to Chief Mountain Trailhead.
Chief Mountain Trailhead is right on the Canadian border, as in you can see Customs before you turn into the little parking lot for overnight/day hikers. From here we began our hiked down into the valley. The first mile of the hike was through an old, tall forest but after we quickly came out to a ridge with our first views of the mountains we'd be hiking under. From this point on we hiked through multiple alpine meadows with a few patches of overgrowth/shrubs. Wildflowers were blooming by the thousands and were dotting all the fields (I tried to include some pictures of them above) and it might've been one of my favorite things about the whole hike. We encountered a Ranger right before we hiked up to Cosley Lake and he chatted with us a bit and asked to see our backcountry permit. Rangers patrol the trails and make sure that everyone who is in the backcountry has a permit if they're staying overnight (aka if they have a big backpack on), if you do not have a permit your are asked to leave and can even be fined. But anyways, after meeting the Ranger we kept hiking and a little over 6 miles into our hike we arrived at Cosley Lake and we had officially hit the valley floor. We hiked around Cosley Lake and continued on to the foot of Glenns Lake where our campground was located.
Oh! How could I forget? Before hitting Cosley Lake we hiked up to Gros Ventre Falls. I had NO idea this waterfall was on our hike so it was such a great surprise to have a gorgeous waterfall to break beside. We took off our packs, stretched and refilled our water before continuing on.
Anyways, when you arrive to camp you are required to take all food and cooking supplies and hang them up on a metal pole located about 30 feet off the ground. This is what I've always done in Appalachia so we had just what we needed, various stuff sacks for our equipment and a long rope with a carabiner clip. This is to keep the smell of food and cooking gear out of the area where you sleep so if bears decide to come to the campsite area, they stay where the food is and don't disturb the campers. (We learned all this in the backcountry video we watched before leaving. I've always hung my food up in bear country but I never knew you should practice not taking any food or cooking gear near your campsite... makes sense!) After dropping off our food we picked a campsite which happened to be lakeside! There was another couple already there who had claimed the other lakeside site. We set up the tent, hung the hammock, stripped off our shoes and headed to the lake which was only a few short steps away from the campground. The view was incredible and the water was freaking cold! We walked fairly far out in the lake because it's so shallow so far out and after we relaxed for a bit before deciding to make dinner. After dinner we relaxed a bit more and stretched/rubbed out each others feet and finally went to bed. It was a windy, chilly night and we both slept like babies. I only awoke once to the sound of loud grunts but quickly fell back to sleep... I never feel nervous of noises around me when Michael and I are together even when they do sound a little bit menacing.
The next morning was an early one; we woke up and promptly made a hot cup of coffee and got breakfast going. After eating we packed up camp quickly and were on our way. We opted to stop by Cosley Lake for an hour or so and Michael fly fished while I laid on the bank and relaxed. The view from the lakeshore was even more spectacular than our campsite the night before and you could see tons of waterfalls cascading down the mountains from the glacier above. After we finished at Cosley Lake we began our trek out of the valley. The first four miles back were easy and we kept a steady pace, only stopping briefly to look back at the mountains we were climbing out of. The last 6 miles were a bit gruesome, but not too, too hard. There isn't a lot of shade on this hike so we were in the heat of the day climbing out of the valley. Even with a belly full of well over 1,000 calories from the night before and that morning, as well as being properly hydrated I still felt the full effects of hiking straight uphill with an additional 15 pounds on my body. But at 14:30 hours we were in the parking lot! We high-fived each other for making such incredible time out of the valley and couldn't wait to get to our next stop. We also had beef jerky and flavor blasted fritos waiting for us so we happily munched on our victory snacks while guzzling down water.