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Cosley Lake to Chief Customs Trailhead, MT
mini location map2022-07-22
59 by photographer avatartibber
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Cosley Lake to Chief Customs Trailhead, MT 
Cosley Lake to Chief Customs Trailhead, MT
Backpack9.32 Miles 1,316 AEG
Backpack9.32 Miles   5 Hrs   29 Mns   1.84 mph
1,316 ft AEG
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Written on Oct 18th.  Sadly, we have to hike out of here and it will be the hardest/longest day of our backpack trip.  We woke up to a fabulous morning and just before leaving our campsite, we checked out our beach only to be delayed due to loons and the sunrise lighting up Cathedral Mountain and all its waterfalls!  After fifteen minutes of soaking it all in, we finished gearing up and headed on out.

So off we went east on the Stoney Indian Trail. We would be lucky to have overcast skies.  After a little while I realized my water bladder was leaking and after some adjustments, we continued on.  I had not been hiking well the last few days so I hoped today wouldn't be a disaster for me considering what lay ahead.  The wildflowers were a constant distraction.  This is a lovely hike in and out of the forest with occasional views of the grandeur of the mountains all around us.  It was very green today; especially with the overcast sky.  We passed by the junction with Cosley Cut-off and saw that the closure sign for the Elizabeth Lake Foot bear alert was still up.  I seem to recall we ran into a lady ranger who said she would be spending the nite at the camp to see if the troublesome bear was still lingering.  Not sure I would like that part of the job :scared: .

Many times the trail was lined with wildflowers on both sides :y: .  It's such a beautiful site but kind of hard to photograph.  Surprisingly, I didn't take any videos or the videos didn't load up as I was starting to have trouble with my Ultra 20.  So the videos I made are slideshows but still reflect the beauty of the hike despite the flat skies.  An hour and a half later we arrived at the swinging bridge above the Belly River and passed by Gable Campground without stopping as everyone wanted to keep moving.  The wildflowers are quite intense in this area. The Belly River Trail has lots to offer, thus 5 stars, altho I would like to dock it one for the elevation gain of the last two miles.

For the rest of the hike we would start encountering other backpackers and we stopped and talked to a couple of guys about backpacking the area since they were new to Glacier Park.  A little later a different lady ranger was riding one of the horses from the Belly River Ranger Station that we had visited with a couple nites before.  She was leading the mule and the other horse.  FYI, there is no road to the Belly River Ranger Station nor has there ever been one.

Once again we passed in and out of the meadows and into patches of aspen and/or fir trees.  We would occasionally have to glance back toward the south and west.  We were lucky to get to see the full blown Mountain Hollyhock plants :) near the Belly River as we continued our trek.  The wildflowers continued to dazzle, including with some new ones we hadn't seen yet.  We took a break by the same tree where we stopped on the way down as it's really about the only clear spot during this part of the hike to the border.  My back end was still damp from the leaking water bladder but now I think I had drunk enough water out of it so it quit leaking.  And actually, the dampness kept me somewhat cool.

It seems like it takes forever to get to the tall forest part of this hike.  I kept thinking I needed to stop and take a quick break but I just kept pushing.  Deborah and Ambika had hiked ahead so I didn't even see them in the last mile.  Tina was ahead as well but I could see her from time to time.  Once we got to the wider path and the taller trees, I was good to go.  And when I finally made it to the top Ambika wanted me to do a "wendy"... let's put it this way, it sure wasn't the prettiest "wendy" I've ever thrown.  I did better on this hike than I thot I might do, so I was glad of that.

We de-geared and Tina headed to East Glacier as she had to pick up some other glacierchatters and Deborah, Ambika and me headed for lunch at Johnson's in St Mary's.  The food is very good as it's mostly homemade.  We had a Huckleberry Creme Fizz which is a great treat altho I would have preferred some alcohol in it.  After, Deborah headed back to Big Arm, MT and we went to East Glacier.  We all had reservations at the same motel (Mountain Pine, second time I've stayed there).

I finally got to meet the infamous "Jen" of glacierchat.  I don't know how many peaks she's climbed :o in Glacier but as of 2014 it was 16 including the tallest, Cleveland.  We felt like we knew each other so well even though we haven't met.  She and her daughter from Chicago were there and also Matt, who I met in person last year.  So we grabbed a bottle of wine and headed out to the picnic table and talked until fairly late.... well until the wine was gone, ha!

Here are the two videos I made: 10-20-2022 GOOD NEWS! I knew I had taken movies and it came to me today that maybe they were on the SD card from the old phone and guess what, I found them. So I'll be re-making these movies and as of 10-25-2022, here they are and I think they're pretty good too!
Part 1  [ youtube video ] Stoney Indian Pass Trail
Part 2  [ youtube video ] including Belly River Bridge
Part 3 [ youtube video ] Belly River Trail
Part 4 [ youtube video ] Belly River Trail, East Glacier

I also fired up my watch for this one which was a good thing since when I transferred apps and data from my old phone, all the HAZ routes got wiped out. 9:01AM-2:32PM, 4666-5216 feet, 129 bpm/159 max. 31% in Zone 5 maximum, 40% in Zone 4 anaerobic, 22% in Zone 3 aerobic, 7% Zone 2 burning 2105 calories.
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.
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