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Fri, Oct 9 2020 - Java Mtn Great Bear Wilderness (View Original Event Details)

Coordinator(s): Cindy Weaver
Participants:Cindy Weaver, Dennis Eaves

Write Up:
Last hurrah before snow. Dennis Eaves met me at the RR trestle bridge where Hwy 2 passes through Glacier National Park. We walked across the trestle and headed into the Great Bear Wilderness. The trails were clearly marked with new signs. After crossing Java Creek, we came to the Java Mtn junction off the Sheep-Elk Loop Trail. The trail basically followed the ridge up from the trail junction. The tread was mostly easy to follow, although there was significant downfall that added to the difficulty of 3000 feet in 3 miles. Still, we reached the target, Java Mountain, around 11:30. Our maps showed the trail continuing along the ridge for another two miles. The trail ended a bit shy of connecting with the Sheep-Elk Loop trail at a pass below Felix Peak. In true GMS fashion, we decided it was too early to turn around and it should be fairly ‘easy’ to connect with Sheep-Elk Loop and return along Sheep Creek. To be honest, we were both thinking, “This might be a two-bagger day (adding Felix Peak).” We stood up from lunch log and continued along the trail. As usual, the ridge walk was up and down switching back and forth along the ridge top. The further we traveled along the trail it became evident why the trail stopped mid-ridge and did not connect with the loop trail. We were successful in climbing through some rocky sections and finally came to the end of the trail. It had taken us 2 hours to go the two trail miles. Looking ahead, we still had two ‘knobs’ to go up and down—one higher than Java Mtn at over 7000’, at least another mile or more, and not a good look at what it could be like. At this point we were a few feet (6864’) higher than Java Mtn. It was time to evaluate the situation. We made a decision to bail off the ridge, climb down a drainage and connect with the Elk Creek side of the loop. The slope dropped 2400 feet in just over a mile with slick vegetation, alders, yew, rolling rocks, sitting-on-your-butt sections—true epic bushwhacking. It may have been one of the worst ever for me. We reached Elk Creek Trail at 5:00pm with about 6 miles to get us back to the RR trestle. It was a race now with daylight. Fortunately, the trail was mostly flat. But it wasn’t cruising-type trail. I found out from a friend later that the Elk-Sheep Loop hadn’t been cleared in about 12 years. They are leaving it for the bears . . . and crazy hikers. We put off using any lights using the dusk after sunset to light the way. Just before crossing Java Creek, we turned on the lights, crossed the RR trestle (just before a train!) and got back to the cars at 8:00pm. I’m ready to go back for Felix Peak—along Sheep Creek side of the Loop.

Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Tim Anderson at 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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