Head Bowman Lake Camp (40.9) to Polebridge (55.2)

14.3 miles

I woke up after one of the most peaceful nights I had in the Rocky Mountains so far. I had put in some ear plugs to keep the noise of the nearby creek at an acceptable level, maybe that’s why. When I got out of my tent a little bit of morning mist was still hanging over the lake. Other than that the sky was blue and the sun was shining! A wonderful day!

Slower than normal I packed up my stuff and was ready to go around 8:30am. The trail was beautiful and went along Bowman Lake. It would follow the lakeshore for 8 (!) miles before I would hit the other campground at the foot of the lake. I had to stop every now and then to take a photo.

Finally arriving at the foot of the lake I had to sit down and enjoy the following panorama during my lunch break:

My hike along Bowman Lake was definitely a hike to remember! After leaving Bowman Lake the trail followed an unpaved road until I would arrive in the small town of Polebridge. Leaving the campground a Ranger told me about a bear that had been seen one mile down the road in the morning. As it was already lunch I wasn’t impressed. I followed the road which was quite scenic.

After a while I could see some cars stopping and moving slowly around a corner. A guy pulled up next to me lowered his window and said: There’s a bear right next to that car in the corner! I slowly hiked closer. Not concerned about myself but about all the cars that might disturb the bear. When I got to the corner “right next to that car” turned into far away in the bushes. The bear was slowly moving past, busy with eating. I could barely see his backside. It was a black bear and according to the Ranger it was a she. No need to be overly excited.

I am not afraid of bears. Not at all. Hiking out here there are other dangers that come first on my list: dripping or falling or getting injured was probably the worst as I was hiking by myself. Second was getting cold and wet. Hypothermia could be an issue. Next on my list were ticks (I already flicked two from my tent in the last week) as they could transmit lovely diseases like the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Google it, I’ve heard it’s no fun! Next on my list were the always annoying mosquitos. Apart from transmitting all kinds of ugly diseases Mosquitos were just that – annoying! And now on place five it’s unpredictable wildlife encounters including bears and mountain lions. By following the rules, using common sense and a huge amount of respect I could limit this danger to the rare case of being attacked by a for whatever reason aggressive animal. There’s little chance this will happen. And just it case it does, I carry some bear spray. Which would also help against humans so I was told. Damn! Where was it when I needed it in the past?!

I descended on the road and left Glacier National Park at the Ranger Station of Polebridge. Two more bends around the road and a couple of miles further I was standing in front of the center of Polebridge: the Mercantile. A small shop, bakery and pizza ordering place. Next to it was the even smaller Northern Lights Saloon. That’s Polebridge! The hostel where I was planning to stay was just a road further.

At the hostel I met Constantin and Sy again. I had already met them at Bowman Lake and they were the first PNTers I met at all! The Northfork hostel is a nice place! It’s run by Oliver – a German, a Schwabe! I’ll have a relaxed evening before I head off for the next stretch tomorrow. Curious what’s next to come! I am a bit worried about my resupply though. The Mercantile was not bad but they had not really any good lunch options. I bought more snacks instead. And the next town of Eureka is just four and a half days away.

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