CDT Day 116 (MT – E. Glacier to Canada)

GNP: Ralph, St. Mary, & Waterfalls

  • CDT Miles: 2,911.7-2,926.1 (14.4)
  • Total Hiked: 1,956 miles
  • Elevation Range: 4,500-4,850

We opted once again for a late start since it was yet another light day mileage and elevation gain-wise. I repeated my new routine of making breakfast in camp. Coffee when backpacking is a wonderful thing, even when it’s instant…

Snickers joined after a bit and then another tried to join as well. During a gap between eating, drinking, and packing I happened to look up and see a Black Bear over Snickers shoulder. It was sort of climbing up a bush. Well, you’ll see…

Mr. Bear, later named Ralph (I don’t know why, there’s no real reason, but I named him this in honor of our pal TW, aka Ralph, who is currently hiking his last PCT section), did not stay away long. He came back through camp and somehow got between Cheer and us. Cheer was packing up her tent and thus stood watching the bear for a while not wanting to put her head down in case it got closer. Not sure how long this all lasted but it seemed Ralph hung out for a while before finally moseying off. He didn’t really care much about us.

Afterwards, Snickers investigated the tree/bush it originally was “climbing” and found the ripe plum colored berries at the top. I’m telling you, these bears know their berries. After all that, we got going once again at 7:42am. First up, was walking around the lake and it was a beaut!

Next, it was walking through a good amount of burned stuff. The talk during the morning walk got around to the facinsting subject of smoothie making. Cheers an expert, so Snickers and I were picking up tips. From there it transitioned to tidbits about living in the big cities (NYC and Southern California) and having access to interesting ingredients and foods and restaurants and of different cultures and such. I listened seeing as this is a whole different world for me. Sounded nice.

We followed along, then crossed, then ate breakfast on the other side of the mighty Red Eagle Creek…

If you haven’t picked up on yet, the sky was a bit hazy today. Smoke from wildfires seems to have blown in and Snickers got cell service at some point and learned it’s likely from the Quartz Fire and/or others that are located in Washington/Idaho.

Leaving breakfast, we had a blip of uphill still in the burned forest. I spotted another bull moose briefly and then we popped out with a view of the giant Saint Mary Lake . It was quite stellar even with the smoke haze…

Around 12:30pm, we found a little switchback trail down to the water. Pretty much the whole way the trail traversed up above the shore, but this was our chance to get down there. We took advantage and had a nice break during which I went for a swim. Very pleasant and refreshing. The sun was just starting to get us, so maybe a little early timing, but worth it…

Took lunch in the shade next to a beautiful stream after a few miles. Still up above the lake.

Further up, we found Virginia Falls. It was funny, when we first showed up below the falls, a group of about 10 muscular shirtless guys looked to be waving at us and smiling. Sort of felt it was a welcoming committee or something. A few seconds later, we realized they were posing for a timed photo. Afterwards, I chatted briefly and they told us about a short trail up to the base of the falls that was well worth it.

We followed their tip and were happy we did!

Group shot…

photo credit @leeruelle

It was pretty busy with day hikers near the falls and just a bit further was St. Mary Falls, which was even more popular, being closer to the famous, ” Going to the Sun” Road. A lot of CDT’ers jump in for a swim here either off the bridge or the rock cliff. It really wasn’t that hot at this point in the day, so after admiring the falls and deep clear pool, we continued onward.

We crushed it and made it to our campsite around 4:30pm. This one was called Reynolds Creek Campsite. Here’s the little layout diagram/map that each campsite has at its entrance…

Got settled in and set up. Went for the rain fly tonight since it had clouded up and didn’t appear to be clearing. Once situated, Cheer and I decided to make our way down to the creek and get water and just hangout at a spot that looked pretty neat. It was sort of a flat rock shelf and we lounged around and eventually started taking pictures and videos of the small waterfalls and rapids and such. It was fun.

Back at camp, another group of thru-hikers showed up… Wick It, Gables, Puss N’Boots, and Mummy. It was such a great time hanging with them and having dinner. Good stories, lots of laughing, and just great company.

I was one of the first to say I was heading to my tent and literally on the walk from the food prep. area to the tenting area, it started to sprinkle rain. Enough that everyone seemed to scatter to their own tents. Don’t think it lasted long. A fun day and a fun evening. Hoping the smoke clears up tomorrow though!

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