Haystack Butte Climb, August 31, 2013

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On Labor Day weekend we labored and conquered a bunch of firsts: first time off-trail for most of the “girls,” first time hiking in the Cutbank Creek area of Glacier for some and the first time that most of the gals climbed a mountain.

On Saturday we left Great Falls at 5:30 a.m. and hit the Highline Trail at the top of Logan Pass by 9:30, with a stop at the St. Mary Visitor center to pick up Christi K who was camping for the weekend at Cutbank Creek, a remote portion of the park with 15 primitive (no water even) spots. She camped by herself in a tent in known grizzly habitat. She impressed us all!

Anyway, after the thrill of hiking on this very high (above the Logan Pass road), on a narrow trail that has straight-down edges and only a cable to keep us from tumbling, we arrived at the Haystack pass saddle by 12:30. Instead of eating lunch on the saddle like most of the hikers, we climbed a rocky ledge (off trail) on the side of Haystack Butte. As we finished eating, we heard a commotion below us on the trail. It was a grizzly quickly moving up the valley and crossing the trail several times. We saw people with their bear spray out, others stupidly running down the trail, some hiding behind a rock and the true idiots stepping closer to the bear to get a better camera angle. Seeing a grizzly is a special sight but we were happy to be up on the butte at the time.

We then headed around the butte (off trail) for the approach to climb it. Of the seven gals, five made it to the top! And it was a first for most being off trail and climbing a mountain. Everyone should be so proud--Katie basically said, "Climb up that slope," and everyone did! Congratulations to Catherine, Kathy D, Kathy M, Christie K and Roni. The climb is very steep and quite a thigh burner. After the fact, we thought we should have dropped the packs; however, it is not a wise thing to do in griz country, especially after just seeing one.

After the climb, we found the heat of the day to be almost unbearable as we headed back. We arrived at the Logan Pass Visitor Center at 5:45 p.m., so it was quite a long day.

We had dinner at the Two Dog Flats Restaurant in the Rising Sun Campground. This may be the last time to eat in the restaurant as it is, since Xanterra won the concessionaire contract from Glacier Park Inc (GPI). We sure hope the new company doesn’t make too many changes to our favorite places in the park—or take away the huckleberry ice cream or jammer sodas. We have loved our GPI restaurants and camp stores.

Along the trail, we enjoyed eating grouse whortleberries or mini hucks, a few huckleberries and thimble berries. We saw elderberries, mountain ash, red twin berries,black twin berries, twisted stalk berries, snow berries, buffalo berries, kinnikkinnick berries (also called bear berries) and false Solomon seal and lily of the valley (star Solomon seal) berries. So the bears have planty to eat.

After dropping Christi off at the St. Mary Visitor Center, the group continued on the Looking Glass Highway to drop Katie off in East Glacier, where she stayed over with her husband. Then Christ and Katie climbed Triple Divide Pass the next day.
Katie's pictures which also include the Triple Divide Pass hike the next day.
Kathy's pictures
Christi K's pics, with close up of the griz!
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