Sunday July 24th, 2022, 0730-1830
Caribou Trail Wagon Camp to WAM Lookout, WEBO mm 104.7, Section 1 Rocky Mountains
23 miles, Gain 6470′, Loss 3140′, elevation 6985′
Oh the glory of a bed! The last time I’d slept in a real bed was 18 days prior in Republic. I didn’t know how much I’d missed it. The minute I crawled in, I sunk into its coziness. Which meant it was very hard to tear myself away in the morning. We’d planned a smaller day to arrive at a fire lookout for camp, so we didn’t need to get that early of a start. Many warnings of snow and blowdowns and grizzlies and steepness had done nothing to lower our expectations of making our miles. We’d nearly reached our 500 mile mark…we were seasoned and ready for anything.
The day started with a very easy and graded old road bed that zigzagged gently up the mountain. One of the switchbacks brought us all the way to the Canadian border. The border swath reached up and through the mountains prominently. There was even a sign. We could have easily walked into Canada but being good law abiding citizens of the USA, we only glanced across the gap. More switchbacks brought us through an area with some blowdowns and alder overgrowth, but nothing I hadn’t dealt with many times before.
We came across a male spruce grouse that had his tail splayed like a turkey, strutting his stuff. He ran ahead of us on the trail, still showing off. He even stopped to drum his breast. I couldn’t make out why he was displaying in front of us and I didn’t see any female grouse around. Later we did see a female with 4 tiny chickies that were ohhhh so cute. I wanted to cuddle all of them of course but didn’t want to set a bad example in front of Wolverine. No harassing wildlife.
The road bed turned to singletrack, which brought us easily to a saddle and then an alpine basin. The area was so lush and beautiful, in full summertime swing. We stopped at Bluebird lake for lunch, relaxing lakeside while a solitary duck dove for its lunch. What a lovely spot. The rest of the day was a mix of alpine ridge and basin, with intermittent patches of snow. It was a joy walking through such an area. The views were great too.
We stopped to talk to one WEBO by the name Bamboo. He knew many of the same people I did, as he was a 2019 CDT alumni and Triple Crowner. He was the only person I saw all day. Wolverine went into beast mode and did an extra 1.5 miles RT to Stahl Peak lookout. It was already 5 pm when we got to this junction, plus we were having to carry water for 7 miles to get to the lookout, so I passed. I enjoyed some solo time, though the last 1k’ climb of the day really took it out of me. I kept catching glimpses of the lookout and it was so close but the trail just kept going. Finally I made it to the top, using the late afternoon light to take a series of pictures of my new Leki trekking poles that I’m gear testing for Trailspace.com. I also spent some time trying to prop open the shutters around the cabin. I got about half of them up but needed Wolverine’s help for the rest. This way we could enjoy the views from inside.
And what views we had of Glacier NP! The Kintla range was prominent and striking. I could also see Mt Locke, which we’d be climbing over the next day. I ate dinner then went outside to watch the sunset. Even though I was at the very top of a mountain, the mosquitoes swarmed me. So I retreated back inside, only to notice mosquito after mosquito flooding inside. There were so many outside that a few were finding all the leaks to the inside. The cabin was a vesicle with holes…namely around the door. I tried stuffing clothes and such in the cracks, which may have helped a little but they were still getting in. Who would have ever thought this would be a problem?
I probably should have gone out to look for a place to pitch my tent (my one guaranteed bug free zone) right then and there but instead I tried to hide from them beneath my quilt and head net. It was so hot inside the cabin that this was intolerable after a short bit. I tossed and turned with mosquitoes buzzing annoyingly in my ear, recalling failed tarp and hammock attempts in Florida. Ahhh, I hate such a scenario! I love my tent and sure missed it this night. We gave the lookout camping thing a try but it was a bit of a miss. Oh well.