Tag Archives: Blake Passmore

Nothing Petty Here

The HistoryPeople can easily get bent out of shape. You know the kind of people who complain about everything and never can find the good in anything.

Sometimes we need to just move on and let things go.

Noted park history expert L. O. Vaught, the namesake of Mount Vaught located above Lake McDonald, apparently had a thing or two to say about name changes in Glacier National Park.

Mahtatopa Mountain as seen from Going-to-the-Sun Point

Mahtotopa Mountain as seen from Going-to-the-Sun Point

Now keep in mind that L. O. Vaught probably was an expert at arguing and proving his point. He practiced as an attorney in Illinois when he was not in Glacier National Park. He also was great at researching history and wrote an informative treatise on the history of the Apgar area. The “Vaught Papers” contain fascinating reading about the numerous homesteaders around Lake McDonald. These important park documents, along with tons of other cool historical information, are located in the Glacier National Park Archives at the main park headquarters in West Glacier, MT.

Vaught apparently was perturbed at some “petty park official” for changing the name of a mountain on the shores of St. Mary Lake.

The peak that he was upset about was Mahtotopa Mountain (8,672 ft. / 2644 m.) located on the ridge line between Red Eagle Mountain and Little Chief Mountain.

This peak was originally called Four Bears Mountain and in 1932 the name was changed to Mahtotopa Peak. L. O. Vaught identified George B. Grinnell as having credit for naming the peak, Four Bears Mountain, in 1885.

 George Bird Grinnell with autograph, portrait, unknown date and photographer. Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

George Bird Grinnell with autograph, portrait, unknown date and photographer. Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives

Mahtotopa was a Mandan Chief and the grandfather of Joe Kipp. Kipp was a hunting companion of George Bird Grinnell, Jack Monroe , and G. R. Gould in the Saint Mary Valley.

This is a pretty important crew of guys for park history.

Hugh Monroe was named Rising Wolf and he has a mountain in Two Medicine named for him.

G. R. Gould was a business associate of Grinnell and is the name sake of Mount Gould along the Garden Wall.

Grinnell has numerous places in Glacier National Park named for him as well.

I am not sure if L. O. Vaught ever moved on past his outrage about this name change, but he likely focused his efforts somewhere else where he could make a difference. That’s what people did back then. They found that we only have so many days in our lives and sometimes moving on is all you can do.

Things To Consider:

  1. LOOK for Mahtotopa Mountain above the shoreline of St. Mary Lake. It is across the lake from Rising Sun Point.
  2. ROUTES up Mahtotopa Mountain will be available in Volume 5 of Climb Glacier National Park that will be released in 2016.
  3. MOVE ON past those issues that are holding you back. Holding on to it is probably not doing you any good.
  4. FOCUS on what you can change not on what you can’t do anything about.

We can learn a lot from history and L. O. Vaught’s outrage against some “petty park official” can serve as an example to us today.

Move on and forget about it.

Read another story about forgiveness here in A Chief’s Apology.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park?

I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Matotopa Mountain is featured in What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on our website.

Thanks for joining me on this quest for the story behind the History.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Seeing Beauty In Everything

The HistorySometimes I see things and go places in Glacier National Park that few other people ever get to experience.

There are a few moments that I will never forget such as being greeted by a pika on Allen Mountain, hearing elk bulging in Buttercup Park while we were ascending Mount Ellsworth in the Two Medicine Valley, and the spectacular view from the summit of Mount Cleveland.

I also will never forget seeing a wolverine in the basin east of Reynolds Mountain. Throw in a handful of encounters with grizzly bears and I can say that I have a lot of great memories. It is times like these that help me keep things in perspective and cherish the simple things in life. They also help me slow down and look for beauty in the most surprising places.

Natahki Lake from the Mount Henkel route.

Natahki Lake from the Mount Henkel route.

Over the last few years I had heard of a basin in the Many Glacier Valley that nestled two beautiful alpine tarns. It was said that this basin was difficult to reach and was protected by cliffs on all sides. It was also said that this place was magical. As a Glacier mountaineer that kind of description captured my attention.

This basin is as special as the famed Shangri La below Mount Wilbur in Many Glacier. I am pretty sure that it is good there is no hiking trail to this magical place.

This is the kind of place that I imagine the Blackfeet people would use to escape from the view of their enemies or just to go to get some rest and relaxation.

Last year I saw this place from above and then got to visit the valley as we returned from climbing Apikuni Mountain. We had no intention to ascend to the basin but severe weather forced us off the ridge into the valley.

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Apikuni Falls

This place called Apikuni Basin, a large hanging valley, can be found above Apikuni Falls in the Many Glacier Valley. A one mile walk up a hiking trail leads to the base of Apikuni Falls. The waterfall pours over a steep cliff that guards the approach to a beautiful basin above.

Something even more special is guarded by another set of more challenging cliffs further up the valley. The upper portion of the basin is the location of another smaller hanging valley that was carved out by glaciers many years ago. The glacier left two beautiful shallow bodies of water called tarns.

A place like this needs a special name and the upper tarn located below Altyn Peak has a great name.

For some reason the lower tarn is unnamed but the upper one is named Natahki Lake.  This shallow body of water is named for James W. Schultz’ wife, Natahki, which translated means Fine Shield Woman.

Natakhi Lake in the Apikuni Basin below Altyn Peak.

Natakhi Lake in the Apikuni Basin below Altyn Peak.

Schultz was instrumental for recording numerous volumes of information about the Blackfeet Nation and was adopted into the tribe. His Blackfeet name was “Apikuni” or “Appikunny” and the basin, creek, waterfall, and the mountain are named for him. Appikunny means Far-Off-White-Robe in the Blackfeet language.

Fine Shield Woman was the daughter of Chief Heavy Runner.  She was one of the survivors of the Baker Massacre (see V1- 55 of What They Called It). Schultz wrote that she was a person who saw beauty in everything.

It is fitting that this lake be named for a Natahki who saw beauty in everything despite surviving a horrible massacre. It is also fitting that Schultz and his wife Natakhi be remembered by having places in Glacier National Park named for them.

Perhaps we could learn something from Fine Shield Woman’s example. We have so much but most of us are never quite satisfied with what we have.

Natakhi chose to be happy in her life circumstances and this is the example we could all follow.

Life is not about having what you want,

it is about wanting what you have.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

 

 

Minor Major Makes Egregious Decision

The HistoryThe United States Army made a number of blunders in their relationships with Native Americans. One of the worst blunders near Glacier National Park was made by Major Eugene Baker of the Second Calvary Regiment of the United States Army.

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain

Heavy Runner Mountain (8,016 ft. / 2444 m.) is named for Chief Heavy Runner who was killed in the Baker Massacre. On Sunday night, January 23, 1870, Major Baker gave orders to 55 soldiers to attack a village in the dark.

This all was the result of the murder of Malcom Clark in August of 1869 by Owl Child and a companion after they had eaten dinner with the Clark’s at their ranch. The white community was outraged and demanded justice. The immediate surrender of Owl Child was demanded; instead Owl Child fled to Mountain Chief’s camp.

After the Owl Child failed to surrender U. S. Army General Philip Sheridan sent a squadron of cavalry and ordered,

If the lives and property of the citizens of Montana can best be protected by striking Mountain Chief’s band, I want them struck. Tell Baker to strike them hard.

And so it was with these orders that Baker rode out with his troops and it was under these orders that Baker commanded them to strike hard. The troops struck the wrong camp. Mountain Chief’s was some distance from the camp the soldiers attacked.

Joe Kipp, a well-known figure in Glacier history and scout for Baker’s regiment, reportedly told Baker that this was not Mountain Chief’s encampment. He told him it was Heavy Runner’s camp but Baker gave orders to proceed.

Heavy Runner was friendly to the whites and many of the people in his encampment were sick from small pox. When the bullets started to rain down, Heavy Runner went out to meet the soldiers and was shot down. Some reported that he was carrying papers from the U. S. government as well as had a U.S. flag draped around his shoulders.

The troops then descended upon the camp and massacred nearly everyone in it.

Official records indicated there were 173 dead and 20 wounded. Nearly all of victims were women, children, or men too ill to defend themselves. This is one of the darkest deeds perpetrated on Native Americans of this region by the white man.

This is a sad bit of history. It is fitting that this beautiful mountain be named for Heavy Runner and let his legacy of peace live on in this International Peace Park.

For more stories about the places in Glacier make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Worth More Than A Wooden Nickel

The History

How would you feel if you saw your likeness on a coin? One man in Glacier’s history had that experience.

The son of a prominent Blackfeet chief thought his caricature was on the buffalo / Indian-head nickel that was released by the U.S. Mint in 1913. This Blackfeet Chief also has a mountain named after him.

 Chief Two Guns White Calf, circa 1933. T. J. Hileman photograph.“Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives”.

Chief Two Guns White Calf, circa 1933. T. J. Hileman photograph.“Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Archives”.

Chief White Calf was responsible for many of the Blackfeet Tribe’s treaties. He is the namesake for White Calf Mountain on the eastern border of Glacier National Park.

White Calf’s adopted son John Two Guns White Calf was convinced that his likeness was on the buffalo/Indian-head nickel that was released in 1913.

Two Guns White Calf was a colleague of James W. Schultz. In addition to being an influential Blackfeet tribal leader in the early 1900s White Calf assisted with providing Native American names for places in the park.

So next time you are in a foreign country and are digging through your loose change don’t surprised if you see your likeness on a coin.  You will better be able to relate to John Two Guns White Calf.

Things To Consider:

BuffaloNickel

Do you see the reason why White Calf thought this was his profile?

1. White Calf Mountain is located between the St. Mary and Cut Bank Valleys and on the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park.  It can be seen along the Looking Glass Highway.

2. We will have a climbing route for White Calf Mountain in Volume 5 of the Climb Glacier National Park that will be released in 2016.

3. The story featured in today’s  post can be found in Volume 2 of What They Called It that will be released in the Fall of 2015. Look for pre-release information in future blogs and on our webpage.

4. Sign up for the Glacier National Park History Blog, on the side bar of this page, and we will send you a new Glacier History Blog every Thursday.

5. Consider signing up for ON ROUTE, a monthly email that features information about visiting Glacier National Park. ON ROUTE has tips and techniques as well as suggestions to make your next trip to Glacier even better.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park?

I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

In the meantime, make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on our website.

The story featured in today’s  post can be found in Volume 2 of What They Called It that will be released in the Fall of 2015.

Thanks for joining me on this quest for the story behind the History.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

The Place Where God Lives

The HistoryI remember seeing Heavens Peak when I was a kid. It was a mountain that captivated my attention.

Each time Heavens Peak evoked the same response.

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Heavens Peak from Going-to-the-Sun Road

The summit of that beautiful rugged peak called me. Back then I had no experience and no one to go with.

In 2004 I realized that dream and stood on the summit of Heavens Peak and did not get to stay too long due to threatening clouds and peals of thunder in the distance.

It seems that when I am on a summit I am just a little closer to the Creator and that is certainly true of Heavens Peak. Perhaps you too get inspired and daydream about a peak or maybe there is a place that calls you and helps you get a little clarity in your life.

Heavens Peak is a mountain that almost everyone can identify. In case there is any difficulty, a large sign with an arrow near The Loop reads “Heavens Peak 8987 Ft. 2793 M.”

Volume 3: The parking-lot sized slabs of rock on Heavens Peak.

Is this the stairway to Heaven?

Jack Holterman wrote that the Blackfeet call this peak The Maker Where He Lives Mountain but then stated that he was not aware that Heavens Peak was all that sacred to the Blackfeet people.

The official name was perhaps given by a prospector named “Dutch” Louie Meyer. Other documents cite a map prepared between 1888 – 1890 by Lt. George P. Ahern that notated this peak as Heavens Peak.

Red Bird Mountain was the name provided by Schultz for the park icon named Heavens Peak (8,987 ft. / 2740 m.).

Suggestions To Consider

1) It is possible to reach the summit of Heavens Peak.  Volume 3 of the Climb Glacier National Park has the route description.

2) I think the best times to photograph Heavens Peak are early morning when it is bathed in that magic morning light. Be there before sun up and enjoy the show.

3) The Loop has a shuttle bus stop as well as pit toilets that are generally clean. Parking can be a challenge later in the day.

4) Take a short 5 minute hike along The Loop Trail and check out the little unnamed stream that is crossed by the bridge beyond the trailhead. It is a magical spot.

Join me again and learn a bit more about the stories behind the names in Glacier National Park.

In the meantime, make sure you check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015