CDT Day 75: Mile 2965.0 – 2979.2 + Chief Mt Route Mile 0 – 7.5

(21.7 miles – 34.5 km)

Sunday June 30, 2019

Reynolds Campground – X Going to the Sun Road – Piegan Pass – Many Glacier – Poia Lake Campground

Reynolds Campground was a very pleasant location. We were deep in the forest, right by the river and surrounded by tall pines. It felt like waking up in an aviary. The bird telegraph started early, just before it got light. Such a beautiful sound to wake up to. As it got light the chirping and twittering increased.

It was a mile long steep climb out of the river valley to cross the main road through the park, the Going to the Sun Road. We left the sound of rushing water and walked through a bear grass lined lush green path. The bear grass heads looked like lanterns lighting the way.

We crossed the road at Gunsight Pass. It was early long before there was any traffic on the road. We were heading towards Piegan Pass at just over 2000 feet above the road.

The first half of the ascent of Piegan Pass was through a deep forest. It was difficult to see anything above the trees.

The sunrise was lighting up various rock faces above us. It was cold on the hands as we were in the shade. Slowly we emerged above the tree line and the steepest part of the climb was behind us. We crossed a couple of snow patches which were still crispy and easy to traverse.

The trail along the steep walls of the Pass looked to be clear of snow. But this turned out not be so. A couple of sections held snow which early in the morning was icy to cross. I tried to walk on the first patch and turned back to put my microspikes on. Hammer thought he would be OK without. I couldn’t bare to watch him inching his way across. One slip and it was a long fall on an icy slope. My microspikes provided just enough grip to be confident of holding on the slope. The next patch of snow Hammer gave in. We’d been carrying microspikes since Chama and this morning was the first time we have used them.

The view from this high up on the rise up the pass was simply spectacular. We have driven the Going to the Sun Road through the park a couple of times. It was incredible to get a completely different perspective from above. The eroded tops of the surrounding mountains were being illuminated by the rising sun. Set against the clear blue sky, it was simply breathtaking.

We reached the top of the Pass and stopped in the sun to have breakfast. It was so silent and overwhelming beautiful. I didn’t want to come down off the pass. The silence was broken by what sounded like a lamb. I turned around and on the mountain just behind us were three Rocky Mountain Goats with a kid. One stopped on top of the mountain in a classic pose. What a treat on top of an already stellar morning.

On the other side of the pass, the descent was just as spectacular. Wildflower lined mountainsides and glacial lakes fringed by eroded craggy mountain peaks. It was superb. One of those magic days of hiking that you just don’t want to end.

We followed a series a glacial lakes down to Many Glacier. We stopped at Many Lodge and had a cold drink before getting back on trail.

In the afternoon we hiked towards Red Gap Pass. Midway along was our campground for the day at Poia Lake. Wildflowers were a riot of colour on the slopes.

As we approached the camp, mosquito number and ferocity increased. It feels like spring had sprung in this part of the park a lot earlier then the sections we’ve hiked so far. Never mind, my happy bird serenaded us into the campground.

We are in the tent protected from the ferocious mozzies and the happy bird is still singing.