Day 148: Glacier National Park Day 4: Fifty Mountain

Miles Hiked: 23

Total Milage: 2567

This morning all of us woke up at 5am. We got ready in the dark and were hiking by 6am. It was still dark when we left with our headlamps lit and ascended to going to the sun road. Because of the permit system and our extremely limited camping options, we were supposed to hike 34 miles to the fifty mountain campsite. The 34 miles wouldn’t be that big of a deal except there was more elevation gain in the 34 miles than any other day I’ve had to hike on the whole CDT. Not only that but there would be no choice to camp any earlier if I failed to hike the 34 miles. When we applied for our permit we found out that leaving the backcountry including walking on the side of the road would completely void our permit if we got caught. We were pretty much forced to schedule the 34 mile day if we wanted to finish the trail. Getting these permits was so frustrating. Darwin found a way that we could still make it to our assigned campsite (Fifty Mountain) without hiking the 34 miles. Instead, if we hike 4 miles on the side of the road, we can connect to the CDT via the Highline trail from Logan Pass. The only problem is that we would be risking our permit being void if a ranger saw us walking on the road. We decided to wake up very early and take the risk. Maybe if we hike that section in the dark we won’t get caught! It sucks that the more reasonable Milage option isn’t a viable choice in the park services eyes. When we got to the paved road it was still dark. A few cars were just starting to enter the park.

As I was walking down the side of the road I was struggling to keep up with Darwin, Legs, and Machine. Usually I wouldn’t even bother trying to keep up with anyone but I wanted to stick with them until I hit the actual CDT again. More and more cars started to drive by as it became lighter outside. The road shoulder became narrower the further we walked and eventually we were frequently jumping off the road down into a ditch for more and more cars to pass us. When we got to Siyeh bend there were cars in every parking spot by 7am. It was completely daylight outside and when we looked up the curve in the road we were supposed to hike on, it looked like the shoulder totally disappeared and so did the roadside ditch. The road looked like it went up the side of a cliff which was safe for us. It wasn’t worth walking the two miles on the road from Siyeh to Logan Pass and risking our lives and probably jeopardizing our permit as well. If anyone saw us up there they would think we were crazy for sure. Darwin ended up Scoring us a hitch the last two miles to Logan Pass. We squeezed into the back of a tiny Subaru. On the way to Logan pass we went through a tunnel. I was glad we didn’t try and walk through that either.

When we got to Logan pass it was windy and chilly. We all took advantage of the flushing toilets at the restroom before hitting the Highline trail. The high-line trail is one of the most popular trails in the whole park. It is narrow and hugs the side of a mountain on a cliff. It was completely clogged with people hiking super slow compared to us when we got on it. It was crazy to pass so many people while we were carrying big packs with a lot of weight. Darwin and Legs lead the way. They were absolutely flying and I felt like I was running to keep up with them. On the other hand, I was glad that they were making everyone move out of the way for me so it was worth keeping up. It’s so annoying to constantly ask people to get out of the way because they are moving so slow. I didn’t want to have to make people move twice if I did fall behind. We made it from Logan pass up to the Chalet in about two hours. I would guess that most hikers on the trail would take about 3 hours or slightly more to do that hike. We were all relieved when we got off the popular trail with tons of people. At the chalet we all took a long break and ate some snacks. By the time we were leaving a couple people we passed were just arriving. The chalet sells snacks and drinks but it didn’t open til noon. Although we did have time to sit around and wait for it, I just wanted to get away from all the people and enjoy hanging out at the campsite. We made it back to the CDT without getting caught by rangers!

Once back on the CDT, I hiked alone most of the way to camp. I could see legs in front of me but I was going my own pace now. No more running to keep up with longer legs. The trail hugged the side of the mountain again and circled around some valleys. I was on the lookout for grizzlies. The air was very smoky and most of the mountains in the distance were obscured by smoke but their outlines were still dramatic and pretty. I passed a couple hikers going the opposite direction and they let me know that a grizzly ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ was spotted ahead. I was a bit Nervous but I didn’t end up seeing it luckily!

When I got to camp it was about 4pm. I hiked 25 miles and still had all evening to relax! I hung out with Darwin, Legs, and Machine before we all went to bed around 8pm. It was another night with a full campsite and we all had to cram out tents in the tiny tent pad. It looked like it was going to rain but the forecast predicted clear skies. Darwin, Legs, and I all set up our tents but Machine decided to cowboy camp and risk it.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

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