Glacier: Kintla Lake to Bowman Lake

September 24, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

I planned a solo backcountry trip for early September, but the weather didn't want to cooperate. About the time I decided to bail, I had a friend invite me to drive to Alaska with her. After an awesome trip to Hyder, AK, I was back in the area and the weather made a change for the better. As I was contemplating my options for a backcountry trip and asking friends about options, I was invited on a trip to the North Fork. The plan was to drop a car at Bowman Lake, shuttle up to Kintla Lake, then hike back to the car via Boulder Pass.

After the travel logistics were all done we set off late morning. The hiking along the lake is long and fairly nondescript. We finally got some views of Long Knife Peak as we hiked between the two lakes.

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Just as the sun was setting, we reached the foot of Upper Kintla Lake. Even though we needed to keep hiking to make it to camp before dark, the light on Kinnerly Peak was too good to not stop for a photo.

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With less than a half mile from camp we ran into a black bear on the trail. It seemed surprised to see us. It stood up and then bolted into the trees all within a few seconds. I suppose if you're going to run into a bear on foot, that's the idea scenario. Once in camp we dropped our packs and ran out to check out the sunset over the head of the lake. We made dinner by headlamp, had some whiskey, took a dip in the lake and then hit the sack.

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Normally I'm a "morning poop" kinda guy, but I had heard that the Boulder Pass Campground "low rider" was the best toilet view in the entire park. The following day we would hike right by it, so my plan was to hang on until we got to the campground. We woke up early, ate a small breakfast and started our climb to Boulder Pass. I also learned about larch trees and their beautiful color in the fall. Now I'm a huge fan.

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Just as we rolled into the campground I dropped everything and RAN to the bathroom. I was probably a few minutes out from needed to dig a whole and ruining my entire plan. After a successful mission, I went back and grabbed my camera, tripod, and book to pose for a photo to remember the experience.

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We continued along the trail on our way to our Hole-in-the-Wall campground for the evening. The trail takes you along some jaw-dropping scenery, including Thunderbird Mountain and Bowman Valley.

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We could almost see Bowman Lake from this stretch of trail, but we had great views for the route the following day.

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The next day we planned to hike from our campground back to our car. We started early and didn't stop for much until we made it back. The sun finally came out, we swam and relaxed on the beach while our friends went to pick up the car at Kintla Lake.

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On the drive back to town the sunset along the North Fork Road blew up. Even though we were tired, we had to pull over for a photo. A great end to a great trip!

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Trip notes: We did just shy of 35 miles and 5500' elevation gain in three days. The stretches along Kintla and Bowman Lakes are LONG. You get occasionally views, but it's mostly in the trees. I bet having a boat would be nice. The views in the high country on this trip are some of the best I have seen in Glacier. I would love to continue on to Brown Pass and explore further in those mountains. I'd love to do this trip again, highly recommend!

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