Backpacking in Belly River

June 18, 2016  •  3 Comments

So this story starts at the local bar, Freda's. After a few beers we started looking at the map of Glacier National Park on the wall and decided to see if we could get a backcountry permit in the morning. Fast forward to 6:30 am the next day and I was up trying to shake off the slight hangover. My friends were slow to rise. It was obvious that people wanted to sleep in. I eventually got them up and over to the permit office. As we were trying to figure out where to go pre-food and pre-coffee, there was a feeling that people wanted to back out. Admittedly, I was thinking about it also. We still needed to shop, pack, drive 3 hours to the trailhead, then hike the 9 miles into the site. That's when I just said eff it, let's do it. 

The plan was to head into Cosley Lake for two nights. The first night we planned to get on trail by 4pm so we could make camp by sunset. The drive out to the trailhead was spectacular. We also ran into Daniel aka Mammoth, who walked to Glacier National Park from NY and has been walking for 2 years. He just crossed the 16K mile mark! We ended up speaking with him for a little while and he said he was about to begin his hike of the CDT from Canada to Mexico. Such a cool spot to run into him.

Chief MountainChief Mountain Yellow Mountain EastYellow Mountain East Daniel Johnson-UtsognDaniel Johnson-Utsogn

Eventually we made it on trail, and it was glorious. It was my first time in the Belly River area, and I don't know what took me so long to get there.

Mariah and Emily (2)Mariah and Emily (2) Emily on the TrailEmily on the Trail Belly RiverBelly River Emily and Mariah on the TrailEmily and Mariah on the Trail Hiking into the Ranger StationHiking into the Ranger Station Emily Looking at the MapEmily Looking at the Map Mariah Taking in the ViewMariah Taking in the View Views at the Gable JunctionViews at the Gable Junction James on the Belly Suspension BridgeJames on the Belly Suspension Bridge Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2)Gable Mountain and Belly Ranger Station (2) Mariah and Emily at Gros Ventre FallsMariah and Emily at Gros Ventre Falls Gable Mountain THrough the TreesGable Mountain THrough the Trees Stormy Chief MountainStormy Chief Mountain Gable Mountain (2)Gable Mountain (2) Cosley Lake TrailCosley Lake Trail

We made it to camp just in time for for dinner, some whiskey, and to set up camp before the the wind started to pick up and the rain to start. The next morning we woke up to fresh snow and a quiet serene morning. I walked around the lake while the others stayed in the tents. Then the reflection on the lake started to fade so I headed back to camp to wake the others and make breakfast.

Cosley Ridge in the CloudsCosley Ridge in the Clouds Silky Phacelia at Cosley LakeSilky Phacelia at Cosley Lake Mariah and Emily in the TentMariah and Emily in the Tent

After the morning we decided to chill around camp. We saw a bear, pine marten, moose, beaver, deer, as well as some crazy clouds that kept forming and breaking up over the mountains.

Emily Reading the Map at Cosley LakeEmily Reading the Map at Cosley Lake Nick Along Cosley LakeNick Along Cosley Lake Moose Along Cosley LakeMoose Along Cosley Lake James Chilling on the Shore of Cosley LakeJames Chilling on the Shore of Cosley Lake Eastern Shore of Cosley LakeEastern Shore of Cosley Lake

The rain picked up again in the evening so we called it a night. The next morning we woke up to some of the best backcountry views I have had in a while. 

Cosley Lake SunriseCosley Lake Sunrise Morning Fog at Cosley LakeMorning Fog at Cosley Lake Morning Fog on Cosley Lake (2)Morning Fog on Cosley Lake (2) Mt. Kipp PortraitMt. Kipp Portrait Cosley Lake Sunrise PanoramaCosley Lake Sunrise Panorama Cosley Lake and LogCosley Lake and Log Pyramid Peak PortraitPyramid Peak Portrait Nick and James at Cosley LakeNick and James at Cosley Lake Geology Reflections on Cosley LakeGeology Reflections on Cosley Lake

After spending about 2 hours shooting, we decided it was time to head back to the car. On the trail we saw some fresh tracks.

Black Bear Track on the TrailBlack Bear Track on the Trail Gros Ventre FallsGros Ventre Falls Gros Ventre Falls Portrait (2)Gros Ventre Falls Portrait (2) James on the Cosley Lake TrailJames on the Cosley Lake Trail

We stopped at the Ranger Station for lunch and to take in the views. 

James at the Belly River Ranger StationJames at the Belly River Ranger Station Belly River Ranger StationBelly River Ranger Station

After all the rain, the trail was muddy on the way back. The hill back up to the car was a little tough because of it. We were slipping around all over the place. Once we made it back to the car we had a cooler waiting for us with ice cold beers. We sat in the parking lot for an hour, stretched, and enjoyed the sun. As we passed back through East Glacier we made sure to stop at Serrano's and grabbed some food and margaritas. It was an awesome trip with some good company. 

This next week I am headed out to Quartz Lake for 3 days. Here's hoping the weather holds out. Things in Glacier are moving along. The Going-to-the-Sun Road just opened, people are showing up, and it looks to be a great summer. If you are in the area, be sure to hit me up!



Charlotte Henson(non-registered)
My stomping grounds! What great country! When I return to Helena in October, you are more than welcome to come visit!!!

And your photos are luscious!!
Was just up there a week ago, and most beautiful place I've ever seen.
Leah Vanden Busch(non-registered)
awesome sauce
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