Ptarmigan Trail and Iceberg Lake: Part 2

Belly river valley elizabeth lake glacier national park
At this point we're 7,200 feet above sea level after walking through a cliff. The tunnel from Many Glacier Valley to Belly River valley is 240 feet long and was completed in 1930 in less than three months. It was made in a commitment to help reach remote regions. Large enough for rider and horse.

After getting through the tunnel and looking down the path I was very sure I didn't want to go down the mountain and have to come back up. That would be a backpacking trip.

ptarmigan trail cliff cut path

I am very glad that I was not part of the crew that had to cut the cliff and create the trail. Very glad they did. The layers of rocks throughout the park continually had my attention. They especially stood out on this part of the Ptarmigan trail since some of the more weathered surface rocks had been removed.

grinnel formation glacier national park

"Interbedded with red argillites are thin white layers of quartzite, a former sandstone which has been converted by pressure into an extraordinarily hard, dense rock. Mud cracks, ripple and current marks, raindrop impressions, and other features made while the sediments were accumulating are common. The red color is due to abundant iron oxide occurring mainly as a cement between the sand and mud grains. All the rocks of Glacier Park contain some iron, or rather contain iron-bearing minerals." -http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/glac/3/sec3.htm

ptarmigan trail cliffside cut path

ptarmigan trail cliffside cut path

Can't forget about the only animal that has made the cliff side its continual home. Very agile creatures on sheer rock face.

chipmunk on ptarmigan trail

My first thought was that hikers must be feeding them. At a closer look there were lots of little plants growing in cracks, trying to grab onto any soil possible.

While up there I did hear about a recent sighting of a bear cub and mom climbing up the scree field. The bear cub couldn't make it and slide back down. I know the feeling from climing the scree field on Mt St Helens. Not a fun task.

Belly River Valley ptarmigan scree

Going down the trail a little ways gave a view of Ahern Glacier between Ipasha and Ahern peaks. The lake is Elizabeth Lake.

Ahern Glacier from Ptarmigan trail

ahern glacier and water fall

belly river valley from ptarmigan trail

Time to start the backtracking part of the trail. But first I had to get some pictures of the cliff cut path and the tunnel.

Ahern glacier and ptarmigan trail
ptarmigan tunnel from the north side
_ptarmigan tunnel on cliffside

If you look closely you can see people standing outside of the tunnel. Time for the zoom lens.

north entrance to ptarmigan tunnel

After getting back through the tunnel I was very grateful I had switched lenses because a mountain goat was working its way across the Ptarmigan Wall above the tunnel.

mountain goat on Ptarmigan wall
mountain goat

It was beautiful heading back through Many Glacier Valley to get onto the Iceburg Lake Trail.

Many Glacier Valley

Iceburg Lake is on the western end of the valley in another cirque like Ptarmigan Lake is in.

iceburg lake cirque and mt wilbur

On the way stopped in the shade and had lunch. We were visited by a rabbit that sat and watched us till we left. It had very furry feet compared to rabbits I'm used to seeing.

rabbit in glacier National Park

Just before reaching the lake was a pond that seems to have no name from all the maps I've been looking at.

Ptarmigan wall and pool below iceburg lake

Just before getting to the lake we crossed Iceberg Creek.

iceburg creek glacier national park

Then came the stunning first view of the Iceburg Lake.

arête and iceberg lake, mt wilbur glacier national park

Surrounding the lake is an arête, thin ridge of rock seperating two valleys. This is Mt Wilbur with it's peak at 9,321 ft and the lake sitting at 6,094 ft.

_MG_2393.jpgarête and iceberg lake, mt wilbur glacier national park

By this point we'd hiked about 11 miles and it was time to take off the shoes and cool off the feet. While at it I decided I had to make it onto an snow chunk and had an audience to entertain in the process.

Andy on snow chunk in iceburg lake

That didn't last long. Time to head back to the civilized part of the park. On the way got to see the ass of a grizzly bear walking on the path ahead. It quickly got off once I screamed in excitement that there was a bear. My first goal was to make sure my bear spray was unholstered and I missed the photo op.

Many Glacier Valley

It was a beautiful 16 mile hike.


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