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Gunsight Pass
4 Photosets

2021-08-07  
2012-08-04  
2012-08-04  
2010-08-11  
mini location map2012-08-04
89 by photographer avatartibber
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Gunsight PassWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Aug 04 2012
tibber
Hiking14.20 Miles 3,575 AEG
Hiking14.20 Miles   10 Hrs   15 Mns   2.18 mph
3,575 ft AEG   3 Hrs   45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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bigfoot
desertgirl
Finally, the day had arrived. A day I have anxiously been looking forward to for nearly NINE months. I have been training and working out so that I could do this hike in time for the 6PM dinner bell at the Sperry Chalet. I knew I could do the hike, it was the 10 hr. time limit I had set (when I would probably go all out in full Tibbermode :D as we approach Gunsight Lake.)

The logistics would be pretty easy since we decided we would come back on the same trail after our 2-nite stay at the Chalet. So after getting our group pic TH shot, we were finally on our way. Now the first mile of this is down and down and down through the forest you go until you arrive at Deadwood Falls. It is a pretty little Falls coming off of Reynolds Creek. We were quite glad to arrive here as it meant most of the down for this portion was finally done :) . We had to make our way through overgrown thimbleberry (but at least it doesn't bite) and little did we know, that part of the hike had only just begun.

We took the obligatory photos and then crossed the suspension bridge. I love these bridges but it is hard to take a picture from them. And then into more forest we would go for a couple hours. I kept thinking we would come out of the forest sooner than we did but that was not the case. After about an hour of fighting thru the 5-6 ft high thimbleberry : rambo : , it just got old after awhile. You had to pay attn to the trail cuz the thimbleberry was so thick you could hardly see where you were walking. This would happen several more times before we finally got over the pass.

We did encounter other hikers along the way and no one was too happy about the thimbleberry overgrowth but heh, what are you gonna do. We get to the bridge at St Mary River and stop to have a snack before heading up all the elevation we had lost. Fortunately, the views would open up as now we could see Dusty Star mountain and soon the big ole glacier of Mount Jackson. Altho the angle of the sun kind of made shooting in the direction you wanted a bit difficult, I squeezed off the shots anyway. There was also a big old waterfall coming off from that glacier so I tried to zoom in to get a closer look.

On this section of the trail we also ran into some hikers. I thot this was a nice section of the trail as we saw some pretty flora and of course spectacular views :DANCE: ! I kept thinking we might have to go down some to get to Gunsight Lake but that never really happened. Eventually we hit the avalanche section where the trail had been re-routed. This was a massive avalanche, one of two big 2011 avalanches with the other being at the Sperry Chalet. It was quite something to walk through this area. It did smell great though. The Park has since re-routed the trail through there. I didn't think our route was bad at all so I'd be curious where they put the trail now :-k .

Soon we had clear views of Gunsight Pass and entered into a meadow to this side of Gunsight Lake. We ran into some more hikers here as well. Next we came to a halt at the outlet for Gunsight Lake as we had to take off our boots, put on our water shoes, roll up our pants and head across the chilly water using the cable for stabilization. All of the parts for the suspension bridge were there but had not been put together. We had read the suspension bridge would not be replaced but of course, the Park put the bridge back together a week or so ago (mid-Aug 2012).

Ambika sent Guru across first as apparently he is the depth tester :lol: . This cracked me up! The worst thing is Guru would end up crossing the outlet 3 times (carrying gear); he said it was really cold that third time. The water was cold but didn't take my breath away. Of course, I was conentrating on just getting to the other side. Needless to say, I got a lot of it on film.
While we were sitting and drying off, 3 day hikers yelled over, is this the only place to cross to which we responded yes. I am still surprised that they hadn't researched this hike before making the endeavour. They were doing the whole 20 miles.

Now it was time for the biggest climb :sweat: of our hike. Mind you, if we had our regular packs on, it would have made this a little easier but we had to carry our wine, extra clothes, walking shoes and in my case, PJs and make up kit for our stay at the Chalet. You skirt the left (SE) side of the lake through a little meadow filled with flowers and soon THE THIMBLEBERRY put in another appearance. We had to slog our way through that mixed with lots of other wildflowers before finally getting our first good view of the turquoise Gunsight Lake.

I was surprised about the amount of wildflowers we would get to see and I was surprised at how much longer this part of the hike seemed. The great thing is that I would need to stop to catch my breath (take a picture) from time to time so getting out of breath was not necessarily a bad thing ;) . As we got higher on the northern flank of Jackson Mtn, the trail got easier to navigate; well almost. We did have to cross an area that had just barely been uncovered by a snowfield and then of course we ran into another big snow field.

I decided it didn't look bad so no yak trax for me. I had some practice last summer on snow fields and this one didn't have nearly the slant as the one did where we had to cross a snowed-over waterfall. Altho this snowfield had some water running under it, it wasn't running fast. When I got to the other side I was able to sit down on some nice rocks and movie Ambika and Guru and another hiker as they crossed. Ambika and Guru put on their snow gripping equipment.

I looked over to my left and approaching on the trail were a mama and kid goat. They kept getting closer and closer and before I knew it, they were almost at my feet and started licking the rocks while keeping a wary eye on me. It was quite a thrill to have them that close in this beautiful environment on such a wonderful day. Soon they meanderered on their way across the snow field showing us how it was done.

I think I forgot to mention that as you approach Gunsight Lake, the amount of waterfalls is simply astonishing. By this point of the hike you were even closer to them and had a much more stunning visual. And then of course, there is the beautifully glacier carved SE side of Gunsight Mountain. The lineage is beyond imaginable as to its magnificence. At least for this angle, the sun was just right. It's a sight I wanted to continue to sit and enjoy :y: but alas, we had to move on. We would cross under and over some smaller cascades of water as we got into the cliffy section of the hike here.

We came upon another couple areas less than 1/2 mile from the Hikers Stone House that were also tricky as you had to traverse a rocky area below the snow fields. We could just barely see the Stone House when we approached our last little snow field but the feeling of elation came over us anyway. Guru trudged ahead and we followed.

I think we were so happy to have made it to this point that we really forgot to look back. We encountered a couple more hikers and were still on my scheduled pace. Here we were, in the stone house, enjoying our lunch realizing that we made it but we only had 3 1/2 hours before the dinner bell. We mentioned whether or not to miss supper so that we wouldn't have to hike as fast.

I finally get to see Lake Ellen Wilson (I call it the negative edge lake) in all of its glorious beauty. And now, the work begins to go down about 1000 feet in a mile via SB after SB. These were some LONG switchbacks; we thot unnecessarily so. Sure there was a waterfall in the way and maybe a cliff or two but sheesh; this seemed a bit traumatic. Nonethess the views were stunning. As we turned each SB I kept waiting for the infamous waterfall. They were keeping count this year as to how many people would fall in.

Finally we get to those infamous falls and though they don't look so bad, after further observation you see a bit of an eddy that you have to step into or over without slipping. Guru and Ambika decided to don their water shoes and go on the low side but I decided I was going to make a try for it where the trail went across. The first few steps were fine but then I had to decide how to get by this little eddy swirling around. It was just too big of a step to get over without risking slipping so I decided to carefully put my foot directly into the eddy. Well it was a little deeper than I thot and down I slipped :o against the cliff side of the water fall.
So how to recover as my nails were hanging on to the rocks with all their might. I grabbed even harder and managed to get myself uprighted and over to dry ground. Fortunately only my right side went in and all my electronics survived in tact. I was a little shaken but none the worse for wear.

And now, we were headed across the headwall to the north side of Lake Ellen Wilson... finally. It was starting to get a little toasty as we climbed the flank :sweat: of the mountain toward what we thot was Lincoln Pass. We went through a couple nice sections where the bear grass was just glowing :) in the sun and areas with some pretty wildflowers but at this point, I was looking ahead to some shade. The higher we got into the cliffier side of the mountain, the more shade we got. I could see ahead that we were going to have to go right as the mountain looked like it cliffed out. I thot this was the Pass but....

Anyway, once we got to this area, it leveled out a bit after we had climbed another 800 feet or so. We entered into an area that was really pretty with snow and grass and small trees and wildflowers and GOATS sitting on the snowfield panting. I'm thinking, and where have you guys been climbing that you're panting as we were just now catching our breath. We were able to get really close to them and they didn't even flinch.

As we kind of got to the end of this area (reminded me of that cool rocky area as you come across from Carney Saddle toward the Ridgeline), we could see we had to continue to wrap around another side of the mountain. For whatever reason though, I got a second wind once we topped out at the corner by the S end of Lake Ellen Wilson so I was feeling pretty good. A couple more switchbacks and I was at the top of Lincoln Pass. WHOO HOO! Ambika put on her after burners and knowing that we were still on my 1.38/mile timeline, she made a quick dash to let the folks know, we would be there for dinner service.

As to me, I thot I might be a few minutes late but we would make it. There was only a mile between me and that food everyone raves about (altho I really didn't think the food was all that; it was good home cooked food but just not all that). It was 5:40 at that time, it was all down hill. Soon Guru would pass me by. I thot for sure he was almost running but before you know it, I couldn't see him anymore.

Well to make a long story short (oops, too late for that :sl: ), the dinner bell had just rung. As I walked into the dining hall, it seemed two people were handing me glasses of lemonade which I happily drank before I even took my hat off. In fact, I would drink a pitcher and 1/2 of lemonade before I left the dinner table. Then it was time to go find our room and unpack, rest our laurels and then go down for the 9-10PM coffee hour or in our case, I had brot up some Huckleberry Chai Tea. Our server that nite would stop by for some. Come to find out, she and another of the servers were graduates of my alma mater, PLU (Pacific Lutheran U).

I have to say, all of the training hikes and working out really paid off as I wasn't sore at all. I had difficulty getting my legs to relax when it came to sleep time but other than that, I was good to go. It's a hike I hope I get to do again but I think I would like to do it as a backpack instead for part of it.

All videos are in HD but I don't know that video 1 works that well on Full Screen due to going thru the thick of things.

Video 1 from TH to Gunsight Lake Outlet incl Deadwood Falls, Suspension Bridge crossing of Reynold Creek, Bridge crossing of St Mary's River and thru the forest covered in thimbleberry: http://youtu.be/5bAFUlMpCPA?hd=1
Video 2 from going thru the Gunsight Lake Outlet (no bridge) and up Gunsight Pass to the first snowfield where we get a goat show: http://youtu.be/eHQiN23Z_bw?hd=1
Video 3 from the snowfield, past the waterfalls and up to the Hikers Shelter, by Lake Ellen Wilson and the falls and up through to Lincoln Pass toward the Chalet: http://youtu.be/wBD6QWfUH8Q?hd=1
Meteorology
Meteorology
Avalanche Glacier
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
HAZ Member
tibber's
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