Part 4 - Adventuring with Don 2018

Part 4 - An Indicent at Boulder Pass


Upon leaving Lower Kintla Lake, we hiked approximately 6 miles to Upper Kintla Lake for the next layover. There we met a group of 3 men who had taken one of the camping spots. The night before they had been forced back from reaching the top due to rain and cold temperatures. They opted to put up one tent in the rain and, though packed in like sardines, they shared the space and body heat.  The next day they came down and set up tents here. Unfortunately for them, the site where they had pitched their tents at Upper Kintla Lake camp was permitted to another group who arrived after a 17-mile trek (a distance over half of our total 6 day hike mileage). That legitimate group looked beat when they entered camp, and probably not too pleased to find their allotted space was occupied. But the first inhabitants, graciously packed up, knowing the rules, and moved up the trail to the grounds of a ranger outpost cabin. The cabin was locked and bear proofed with spike studded door and heavy-duty protection on the windows..While not able to camp at this site they still were able to hike back to the food prep area to prepare and eat their meals. 

We had ample time to relax here before dinner; some taking another dip in the clear, cold lake (not me this time).  It seemed to get quite a bit colder as the sun went down, so most everyone were dressing accordingly. Being quite tired, it wasn’t long before most of us crawled into our nests for a good night’s sleep.


Ryan informed us that we would be getting an early start the next morning with a departure time by 7:30 a.m. We all were dutiful and were packed up before breakfast and after tidying up, we were ready to set off on the most grueling part of our hike. Prior to departing, however, Ryan took on the role of doctor. If anyone had hot spots, blisters or sores on their feet, he would administer first aid applying moleskin, padding or bandages as needed to ease or alleviate the troublesome discomfort. This morning Ryan fulfilled his podiatrist duties as he tended to the sore spots on Kate’s tender feet. 


Still on schedule, we set off through the forest breathing in the chilly morning air accented with the fresh scent of pine trees. Before us this day was a 2800-foot elevation change - an ascent up to Boulder Pass.

It was not easy.

However, even with the strenuous exertion, there were frequent rests along the trail, which yielded some magnificent views. Looking back from high above we could see Lower Kinta Lake, appearing as a shimmering blue jewel.  Before us were high peaks with snowfields whose melting snow produced long ribbon waterfalls flowing from the heights to the river below. Early morning light cast a golden glow upon the mountain peaks as the sunlight then slowly draped downward melting away the shadows of darkness.


To my pleasure and delight there were meadows of colorful wildflowers. But not just in meadows. Along the path were flourishing blooms that brightened the day.

As the morning progressed, the heat of the sun and heat from the steep climbing were draining energy and hydration. I believe I sweated 3 liters for every 2 liters of water that I drank. 

The rest periods were welcomed as we could drop our packs allowing us to stretch out the kinks produced from carrying those heavy loads. Lunch along the trail allowed a bit more time to relax and, sitting on the side of a mountain, gaze out, admiring and appreciating the views.

Before hiking this morning, and during the day, Ryan was excited to summit the highest point, encouraging the rest of us to join him after we set up our tents at Boulder Pass. It did sound like it would be fun, but the extra effort after climbing upward all morning might be a deterrent, at least for me. We would decide who would go up after we arrived in camp.

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At long last, in the mid afternoon, we arrived at our next camp, Boulder Pass.

Upon arrival here other campers had set up a tent on one of the camping spaces. That area could accommodate several more tents, but the space was that group’s to use while we had permits for just the other two spots. They were not in camp when we arrived and had not returned while we set up our tents. 

Due to limited space for all of our tents, Tiffany went slightly off the designated area outside the space where Gyorgyi, Tim and I set up our tents. The Park Service frowns upon camping off the designated areas but there was little else we could do so that we all could fit in the camp.

With tents set up, Ryan organized those who would join in hiking up to top of the summit. Tim and I chose not to go, but watched from below as they started the ascent up to the top.  

              Brandon, Bob, Kate, Gyorgyi, Ryan & Tiffany ready to hike to the top of the mountain in the background.

After the more adventurous group left, I scouted around the area taking some pictures and then just sat and took in the incredible views. 

Tim came over and joined me where we relaxed together, Tim and I chatted, learning more about each other. In the course of our conversation, Tim revealed that his family originated from the Tiffin, Ohio area, which is about 25 miles from Gibsonburg, Ohio, my hometown. Knowing that some of my family lives near Tiffin, it seemed likely that some family members may recognize his family name of RING. Tim left Ohio many years ago and now resides in Florida. Other little coincidences like this have often occurred for me while out exploring in our National Parks.

Tim excused himself for a brief time as I continued to sit alone, absorbing the scenery and beauty all around. 

While sitting there an older couple were approaching camp, which turned out to be the occupants of the solo tent on the other camping area. The man seeing me sitting on a boulder with my camera, stopped and chatted, telling me the view off in the distance was worthwhile if I cared to check it out. He appeared mild mannered with longish silver hair, and matching facial hair, looking very much like a seasoned hiker and explorer. It was a brief chat and then he went on his way back to he and his wife’s tent, just a hundred yards away from where I sat.


It was peaceful there, as I meditated and felt thankful to have the privilege of being a part of Mother Nature in Glacier National Park.


But then, I heard a loud, upset voice. Turning around I see the elderly gentleman confronting Tim about the tent that was set up in a non-designated spot. Tim calmly told the man the tent belonged to a friend in our group. This answer did not set well the older gentleman, telling Tim it was against the rules and that Tim was a rule breaker! If memory serves, Tim responded with “you don’t know me” and “F--- You”.


Tim rejoined me whereupon we talked about that brief confrontation. While my initial contact with the man had been pleasant, Tim’s was just the opposite and it did upset Tim to be verbally attacked and branded a RULE BREAKER. It was puzzling to me to see the man go off like he did, as by appearances alone, he seemed a kindly older gentleman. Tim and I knew we needed to tell Ryan, our guide, about this incident upon his return to camp. Before that, however, Tiffany, Gyorgyi, then Bob and Kate returned, having decided not to make the final ascent to the summit. Ryan and Brandon were the only two who completed that hike to the top.


When Ryan and Brandon returned, and before we returned to camp, a short distance away, we informed him of the “Rule Breaker” incident.

However, before we got to the tents, the upset gentleman was approaching us. Was this going to be a showdown? How was our young guide going to handle this sensitive issue? Would we be reported to the Park Service and banned from Glacier National Park? Would Tiffany be forced to squeeze her tent in amongst the rest of ours?


The tension was gripping.


u © Donald E. Kline 2012