PNT day 62 – Deer Ridge Trail & Lilian Ridge Trail


Deer Ridge Trailcamp (mile 24 on Alternate) to Gladys Lake Camp (mile 8.5 on Grand Pass Alternate)

approx. 18 miles

I started at my usual time but not without saying goodbye and giving a hug to one of my Camp neighbors. She had told me her story last night and it was a horrible story that would be in my mind for a long time while I was climbing up Deer Ridge Trail. All I could hope for was that it had helped her to share her load with a complete stranger. Sometimes we travelers are good for that.

The steep hike up Deer Ridge Trail very soon draw my attention. An information board early on promised an elevation gain of 2950 ft and a grade of 35% in some places. It was hard work! But the sun was out and I tried to have a nice hiking day. Around lunchtime I dreamed about a nice spot to stop for lunch. Maybe I could find a nice log to sit on? How about a bench?

Benches are not very common on US trails and so I was more than surprised when I turned around the next corner and found – a bench!! It was a bench with a nice mountain view and of course I had to sit down for a while!

I arrived at the Deer Park Campground around noon and went down to the Ranger Station to pick up water at the nearby spring and hit the trail to Obstruction Point. Another seven miles of climbing up and hiking along an alpine mountain ridge would take me to that well-known trailhead. Unfortunately it was cloudy and I couldn’t see much at first.

Hiking further the clouds moved around and finally away. Hiking towards Obstruction Point the trail wasn’t always easy for me. I am afraid of the heights and steep drop-offs and one time the mountain side angled at a degree that exceeded my tolerance limit. I felt unsafe on the lose and slippery gravel and the downward angled trail. With the highest concentration I stepped ahead and tried to get beyond the sketchy section as quick as possible.

Climbing Mountains comes at a cost for me but the reward were incredible views and probably the most scenic hiking day since I left Glacier National Park!

I arrived at Obstruction Point in the afternoon and with the sun getting lower I started hiking up Lilian Ridge Trail. A sign at the trailhead had told me that people died on the ridge trail in a blizzard. Thank god there was no blizzard today. The sun was bright blue as I moved forward along the mountains.

At some stage the trail started descending in tight switchbacks and I passed Grand Lake as well as Moose Lake which was busy with campers.

It was late when I finally arrived at Gladys Lake. It wasn’t busy at all. There was a group on the other side of the lake. After hiking around the whole thing I pitched my tent at site no. 1 and started to get comfortable. It was already dark when I finally got to lay down in my tent. Tomorrow I will face Grand Pass and more. Stay tuned!

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