Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bad Marriage - Eagle Plume - Mad Wolf traverse with James Yearous

Climbing up a mountain can be just like a bad marriage. Our ascent was not unlike this peak's namesake, with more than a few moments of soul sucking uphill bushwhack. However, once up high on the open ridge, we forgot all about the bushwhacking and enjoyed a fantastic ridgewalk.

Unsure of the descent route off Bad Marriage, we decided to do the traverse in reverse and start off by ascending BM and descend off of Mad Wolf, which we could see looked straight-forward. We had also been forewarned not to drop down off of BM by the drainage as there were some cliffs adjacent to the waterfalls. I was hoping to find a weakness in the cliffs on the way up but as we hiked up the trail, the cliffs on the North face of BM looked like an impenetrable fortress. Finally, we hiked all the way up the valley and passed the interconnecting stream coming out of Triple Divide Pass, and found a more moderate approach that took us right up. Hiking further upstream made the first stream crossing much easier and other than being really frikkin' cold, was no biggie.

Views from the ridge were pretty grand. Lots of snow in every direction and the ridge walking was great. The connecting ridges from BM to eagle Plume was straight forward, as was the walk from Eagle Plume to Mad Wolf (despite appearances). On the descent we spotted a pair of bears far off below... reminded us a lot of the scenic point (Mt. Henry-Apistoki) traverse last year!

There were some good game trails from the reservation horses that seem to have taken over this corner of the park that we were able to follow through the meadows almost all the way back to the last stream crossing. The stream crossing at the end of the day was unforgettable (neither one of us swam but it was dang close! The water was generally 3-4 feet deep but I sank almost right up to my neck at one point when I found a deep pool right at the edge where the water velocity was zero). Cold water wakes a guy up, that’s for sure!

The drive home was an adventure, a moose popped out in front of the car at one point and we barely made it accross the border in time (there was a 10:40 PM Sunday traffic jam happening...) When I told the border patrol dude we were hiking in the Cutbank area, he thought we were hiking in the town of Cutbank and commented that he did not think there was much hiking to do in that town and asked if we had been hiking in the coulees... being tired, I almost could not remember the names of the mountains we had been on and I made quite the long awkward statement when I clarified where we had been, "We were up..." (pause) "Bad Marriage mountain... and" (pausing longer) "Mad Wolf mountain" (pausing one last time) "in the Cutbank camground area of Glacier Park."

Luckily he let us through. I was still pretty wet from the stream crossing and was happy we did not get searched!

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