Monday, August 01, 2011

A snowy walk along Bob Marshall's North Wall

Brother Dan Kotynski coming off HQ Pass, among first of season to cross into the Bob this way

Above Sock Lake at foot of North Wall

What Bob trip would be complete without a grizzly track

Crossing one of many snow fields along North Wall

Grand Lake LaVale

Coming out a Route Creek Pass

It's high summer and I'm in full gear.
I did a Bob Marshall Wilderness Area trip July 24-29 to the North Wall, and then a quick 17 mile Dawson-Pitamakan loop in Glacier National Park.
The Bob Marshall trip started at Headquarters Pass, dropped into the North Fork of the Sun near Gates Park, then up Red Shale Creek to the North Wall where we lingered an extra day to see Sock Lake, and climb and walk the wall, across the Wall to its end at Open Creek, down Open Creek, over to the North Fork of the Sun, then up through Route Creek and back to HQ Pass via the Lonesome Ridge.
We walked through a lot of the 1988 Gates Park and 2007 Fool Creek burn along the way, enough to see regeneration in full swing.
There were tons of snow at HQ Pass and along the wall, particularly at the headwaters of the North Fork of Lick Creek.
We were passed by a horseback couple on the first day, saw a lone German hiker the third day, a Helena couple hiking from Marias Pass to Benchmark on the fifth day and two horseback parties and a packstring on the sixth and final day.
That's pretty solitary considering the size of the area we covered, some 60 miles.
We had sunny weather all but the third day when we did our "Grand March" across the wall.
The highlight of the trip was breaching and then walking across the top of the Wall along the Continental Divide and seeing nothing but mountains in every direction.
I was particularly impressed with the amount of water coming from every direction because of the snowmelt from the hard winter.  It added to our enjoyment of the many waterfalls along the way.
The Front was particularly green and full of wildflowers.
At age 63, a backpack of this magnitude is no easy task, but I enjoyed the isolation and spectacular beauty of the Bob enough that I would do it again.

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