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CDT 2023: Day 2

  • Start: Chief Mtn Alternate 6.1
  • End: Chief Mtn Alternate 19.6
  • Miles: 15.5
  • Camp: Poia Lake campground

We had a late start to accommodate all five of us, not a problem at all given the mileage through Glacier, and in any case it’s good to have company through grizzly country. My breakfast consisted of an ancient Pack it Gourmet pizza packet but a hot meal is better than bars to start the day, especially from a mental preparation point of view.

The trail was easy, and surprisingly lush and green. We passed beautiful waterfalls and stopped to enjoy the cool spray from the thundering water. At Elizabeth Lake we stopped for a quick snack break to wish a good afternoon to Ali and Andrew who would be camping there that night. 

After Elizabeth Lake, we started up a 2,600 ft climb to Red Gap Pass,  switchbacking up the side of the mountain. Some people seem to hate switchbacks, but these gave us repeats of the stunning views back over Elizabeth and Helen lakes. 

I made a quick observation about half way up that I didn’t like the look of the clouds over the pass, but was told there wasn’t any rain in the forecast. I still kept one eye on the clouds, in case they thought to accumulate and defy the forecast. 

Red Gap pass had a mix of pink stone, and fragile stratified red and black rocks, interspersed with incredible wildflowers, which manage to grow even in the most unexpected places . Once we were over the windy pass we made a quick stop for lunch. It was still sunny but the menacing clouds lingered on the other side of the valley below.

The rain started during the descent. Just a sprinkling at first, but eventually heavier and unfortunately persistent until we reached Poia Lake campground. I pitched my tent and Tangent yogi-ed a spot in Nate’s tent since he normally sleeps under a tarp and the sites were tight.

I was developing a bit of a tummy upset, and a big noisy group arrived just as we were eating dinner, which made me slightly quiet. Still, there were snowshoe hares scampering through the meal prep area, and the rain held off as we ate. It came back again in thundery defiance just as I’d settled in for an early night, and I paid it no mind as I went off to sleep.

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