This was one of the most unique events in which I have ever participated.
We started the day at 6AM, it had rained Friday night so the brush was wet and the trail overgrown. I took the lead I had waterproof boots and gators, but they did not help, the brush was tall and just soaked my shirt and pants running down inside the gators fill my boots. So most of the day was in soaking wet socks. Aside from that the weather for the day was just about perfect, partly sunny yet cool enough to be comfortable.
After 2.5 miles we crossed Mineral Creek and started our way up the trail on Flattop Mountain, three miles of steep switch backs after which we finally got out of the tall wet over growth and things opened up.
This was definitely Grizzly territory, I have never seen so many Glacier Lilies. The snow had just finished melting, a few small patches here and there. The next five miles were wonderful through meadows and bogs, all on trail, until we reached the continental divide.
We then left the trail, a steep down hill descending 1000 feet in 1 mile to Kootenai Pass then the same climb back up to the summit of West Flattop Mountain. Tough going thick bushwhack with wet slippery hill sides, but well worth the effort. The summit of West Flattop was the most beautiful summit I have ever been on. It could have been the time of year, but just a sea of Glacier Lilies instead of dead rock like most. Apparently not many people go here as the summit cairn was the smallest I have ever seen. We had lunch and at 1pm then headed back. After doing the down and up through Kootenai Pass we were back on Flattop Mountain and started towards its summit. A mile down the trail we ran in to a large Grizzly Bear in the trail. We stopped and backed up a little. We had been making noise so it did not see surprised by us. It showed no sign of wanting to leave the trail. So we decided try and go around it. We all pulled out our bear spray and walked about 100 ft off the trail keeping an eye on it. As we passed it took interest in us, more curiosity than aggressive behavior, and started walking along with us, but after a short time he decided we were not important and went back to digging lilies.
A while later we left the trail and started following the ridge to the summit. The summit cairn of Flattop Mountain was even smaller than West Flattop consisting of about 3 rocks. We then dropped off the east side of the mountain and found the trail. A couple more miles and things got steep again and we started jogging down through the switch backs. It was a long tough day, about 26 miles with 6000 vertical. It took us 13 hours to complete, the beer, sodas, and chips waiting for us at the trail head sure tasted good. bbb
Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.
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