Glacier National Park – Pitamakan Pass


Two Medicine Ranger Station to Atlantic Creek Camp

14.5 miles

We didn’t get to watch the sunrise. It was cloudy and rainy in the morning and so we all stayed in our tents a little longer. But of course I had to leave my tent at some stage to get to the restrooms. And look what I saw:

Isn’t it beautiful? The Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park impressed me right from the start! I was here only by accident and got to hike a few days up north on the Continental Divide Trail – together with the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail one of America’s big three long-distance trails. My goal was actually to get to the trailhead of America’s youngest long-distance trail – the Pacific Northwest Trail. The trailhead at Chief Mountain at the Canadian Border was only accessible by private car ride. Or by foot. Hiking some extra miles through the Rocky Mountains didn’t sound too bad to me and so here I am!

But now let’s get moving! Today’s hike will lead us away from the Two Medicine area and up a valley until climbing over Pitamakan Pass at 7500 ft.

Leaving Two Medicine behind I tried to get comfortable with my new hiking companion. Bailey had given me her bear spray. Being offered one for free I didn’t want to say no and she insisted that I should be safe and so I took it. Thanks, girl!

I figured the best spot for it was somewhere attached to my hip belt and so this little guy is now hanging between my legs – kind of 😉

Hiking up The Valley through some nice sunshine I took countless photos. On my way up towards Old Man Lake I met a couple of day hikers and three CDT hikers going south. We exchanged trail names and trail information. Moonshine and Paya told me that the snow on the upcoming pass wasn’t too bad and the trail was mostly clear above tree line.

I hiked on towards the lake and was once more impressed by the breath-taking beauty of this landscape. Passing by the lake snow began to show up even before the switchbacks up the mountain started. Once I was beyond treeline I crossed a couple of snow fields that still lingered on the trail but other than that the trail was clear to the top. From up there I had great views to both sides and could see still half frozen Pitanakan Lake on the other side. But I could also see that the snow situation on this (north) side of the mountain was a bit more serious. Coming down and descending into the trees I had to hike through snow for more than an hour. It reminded me of what I had just left behind in Washington. That being said it was much better here, still less snow and water and actually some footsteps I could follow. Although the sun did a good job in melting them away!

Once I had left the snowy section behind I passed Morning Star Lake and headed towards my dedicated campsite for the night near Atlantis Creek.

Talking about campsites: I had spend more than one hour at the Ranger Station this morning to get my campsite schedule all set. I was prepared and had already pre-selected where I wanted to stay in the park. In Glacier Park camping is only permitted in dedicated backcountry campgrounds. My campsite plan didn’t work out nicely as some of the campgrounds further north are closed due to restoration works. I am all set until Many Glacier where I will arrive in another three days. There I will have to check with the Rangers again. Hopefully it works out!

Arriving at the Atlantis Creek Campground I had to look around first. The campground consisted of four campsites, a pit toilet, a food preparation and a food hanging area. We are in Grizzly country!

As it started dripping every now and then I set up my camp first and then moved over to the food preparation area. While I prepared my food I got eaten alive by thousands of mosquitoes. I walked back and forth between the areas while my Ramen was soaking and got everything ready to hang up my food in the provided iron food hanging frame. My first solo overnight at a backcountry campground in Grizzly country. Hopefully I have done everything right and the night will be peaceful!

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