Tag Archives: Hiking

Give Me Them Bones, Them Dry Bones – What?

The HistorySome people are just plain odd.

In my line of work as a mental health counselor I have met my fair share of interesting and colorful characters, but I have never met anyone who demanded to keep their brother’s bones in a sack.

This is the story about the Native American name for Flinsch Peak in the Two Medicine Valley just above Dawson Pass.

173 R

Flinsch Peak from near Dawson Pass

Flinsch Peak (9,225 ft. / 2812 m.) was named for a young Austrian, Rudolf Ernst Ferdinand Flinsch, who came to the area in 1892 with Dr. Walter B. James to hunt mountain goats. They were guided in the area by William Jackson the namesake of Mount Jackson.

Flinsch was quite surprised later when he looked at a new map of the area and found his name on a peak. It used to be called Flinsch’s Peak.

The proposed Native American name for this peak was No Chief Mountain.

No Chief must have been quite a character and was more superstitious than most of his contemporaries. This caused problems with some of his wives.

Here is the story as James Willard Schultz told it.

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

Flinsch Peak from Rising Wolf Mountain

No Chief was said to be a great Piegan warrior who led many raid against the Crows. In one particular raid his younger brother Little Antelope came along and No Chief went against a vision that was given to him.

In the vision No Chief saw bodies of Piegan warriors lying in the underbrush, but he did not see their faces because he awoke before he could see them. He shared his vision with his party and most of them including Little Antelope did not want to turn back. In fact, Little Antelope stated that if No Chief truly loved him he would lead them up the valley.

No Chief could not refuse his brother’s request and he lead the party on foot toward the enemies’ camp. Eventually, the party was discovered by a great number of Crow warriors on horseback.

A battle ensued and Little Antelope and other Piegans were killed. No Chief fought bravely and led his force against the Crows to ensure that they did not scalp and dishonor on the Piegan dead. The dead were recovered and buried properly.

Months later No Chief went back to seek revenge. He stole a number of prized horses and belongings as well as counted coup on his enemy. He returned with his spoils and a bag that he refused to let anyone else handle.

He entered his lodge with the bag and told his three wives, who were sisters, that the bag contained the bones of his fallen brother Little Antelope. His wives then feared for their safety and only his oldest wife remained in the lodge. Eventually the other wives came back as well after they decided that Little Antelope was kind in life so they had nothing to fear from his bones.

No Chief began to speak to his brother’s bones as if Little Antelope were alive. Some believed that the bones carried on a conversation with No Chief as well.

When No Chief died he was buried with his brother’s bones.

In conclusion, if someone you know wants to sleep with his brother’s bones try to steer clear of them. No Chief’s wives came back but I know of very few wives who would tolerate this in today’s culture.

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 my website.

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

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


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015


Climb Glacier Education Series: Preventing Sun Damage (Part II)

EducationNo matter where you climb protection of the skin is crucial. Consider the following recommendations to protect your skin.

Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours.

The sun’s rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours. This is not usually feasible while out climbing or mountaineering.

Cover as much of your skin with clothing as possible.

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats will offer a significant amount of protection especially if the clothing contains SPF fabric such as those made by Outdoor Research.

Apply Sunscreen Before Going Outdoors

Up to 30 minutes before going outdoors apply SPF 15 or better with a broad spectrum of protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

For children use SPF 30 or higher.

Use a sunblock on your lips.

Choose a product that has been specially formulated for the lips, with a sun protection factor of 20 or more. Follow the direction on the sunscreen container for additional applications.

Remember that certain medications and skin care products can increase the skin’s risk of UV damage. Consult with your prescribing physician to determine if you need to take additional special precautions against sun damage.

Protect Your Eyes

When considering protecting your eyes the concern is with UVB light. In high intensities of UVB light is hazardous to the eye and severe exposure can lead to serious eye conditions.

Choosing between glass or plastic needs to be carefully considered.

With this in mind, consider that even untreated eyeglasses offer some protection. However, most plastic lenses provide better protection than glass lenses, due to glass being transparent and plastic lenses are less transparent. Polycarbonate lens block most UV rays. No matter which lens you choose to use make sure that adequate protection is provided on the sides of the eye.

Mountaineers are exposed to higher than ordinary levels of UV radiation, both because there is less atmospheric filtering and because of reflection from snow and ice.

Protective eyewear will prove beneficial reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, particularly short wave UV. Full coverage eye protection from the side is crucial to ensure adequate protection for the side when there is an elevated risk of exposure such as climbing at high altitude.


To prevent snowblindness always wear goggles or sunglasses. It is possible to make protective eyewear by cutting two small slits in a piece of cloth and then looking through the slits after fastening them around the head.

Snowblindness is caused by burning the cornea of the eye by UVB rays. It typically occurs at high altitudes on reflective snowfields. Headaches, gritty or burning eyes, halos around light, sensitivity to light excessive tearing and temporary loss of vision are the typical symptoms of snowblindness.

To treat this condition consider the following recommendations: cover both of the victims eyes with bandages and control pain with painkillers and a cool compress. Oftentimes within 18 hours the vision will restore without further medical help. Typically the surface of the cornea regenerates within 24 to 48 hours. If difficulties continue seek medical help as soon as possible.

Hopefully you have gained a bit of knowledge about protecting the skin and eyes from damage to sun. If you have any doubts about a patch of skin that looks different please get it checked out.

Here are the signs of Skin Cancer. Use ABCDE

A for asymmetry: When divided in half it does not look the same on both sides.

B for border: Edges that are blurry or jagged.

C for color: Changes in the color, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D for diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

E for elevation: Raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.

In conclusion, practice sun safe principles as you venture outdoors. Protect your skin and eyes with the measures that are appropriate for the conditions that you encounter as you are out enjoying the routes and summiting the mountains. Use common sense and prevention to ensure many more years of mountaineering.

Climb Glacier Education Series: Preventing Sun Damage

EducationAs we all know sunlight is a powerful source of energy. While sunlight is crucial for many processes on the earth such as heat and production of oxygen through photosynthesis; sunlight can also be damaging to the human body with just a little exposure. 

Sunlight is measured in what is called “solar constant” which is equal to the amount of power the sun deposits in a specific area. Without the atmosphere protecting the earth, the solar constant would be 1,370 watts per square meter. But due to the atmosphere the solar constant drops down over 20 percent to 1,000 watts per square meter. The higher in elevation the less protection we receive from the atmosphere. In comparison consider that a toaster requires about 1,000 watts to toast four slices of bread. 

Some observations about sunlight:

The main culprit for damaging skin and eyes is ultraviolet light (UV).


UV light is separated into at least three spectrums: UVA, UVB and UVC.

In addition to a sunburn, UV rays can also cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.

The eyes can also be permanently damaged by prolonged exposure to sunshine without protection.

UV light is also beneficial; it acts as a natural sterilizer for both instruments as well as water. 

Exposure to UVA is more constant than UVB — it is present at all times and seasons.

UVA is useful for treating certain medical conditions such as psoriasis and healthy exposure to UVB is crucial for production of vitamin D.

Conversely, too much UVA and UVB can also be detrimental and cause such conditions as skin cancer, permanent eye damage and damage the immune system.

UVC rays are the highest in energy and the most dangerous type of ultraviolet light. Little attention has been given to UVC rays in the past since they are filtered out by the atmosphere.

Natural Protection of the Skin

Skin is the human body’s largest organ; on each square inch of skin there are approximately 19 million skin cells.

Skin creates an amazing barrier that usually is impervious to moisture and creates an amazing barrier against infection, cools the body through perspiration, as well as protects vital muscles and bone structure.

Some exposure to sun is healthy for the skin as it produces melanin. Melanin gives the skin its normal color. Exposure to sunshine produces extra melanin which creates a darker pigment to the skin. It is this darker pigment, a sun tan, that helps block UV rays from damaging the skin. But the natural protection of Melanin can only go so far. Too much exposure can cause a number of serious problems.

Problems Associated with Prolonged Sun Exposure

Dry skin is a common cause of itching. Generally, the skin appears dry, flaky and slightly more wrinkled than skin on other parts of your body that have not been exposed to the sun. 

Sunburn causes pain and redness on sun-exposed skin with a clear distinction between where skin is protected and where it was not. More severe cases of sunburn produce painful blisters and may associated with nausea and dizziness. 

Think of blisters as the body trying to put the burn out from the inside out. Persons with large areas of sunburn could possibly be at risk of dehydration as well. The key here is to cool the sun burn with cool water just like a heat burn. Cooling aloe gels are also useful for providing comfort as well as replenishing moisture in the skin. 

Proper hydration is key here as well. In strenuous activity in hot conditions, such as fighting forest fires on Hot Shot crews, it is not unusual to require one quart of water per hour. Although most activities are not that demanding this can be used as a guideline.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis is the first step to developing skin cancer. Actinic keratosis appears as small bump that feel like sandpaper or a persistent patch of scaly (peeling) skin that may have a jagged or even sharp surface and that has a pink, yellow, red or brownish tint.

Seborrheic keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is characterized by tan, brown or black growths have a wart-like or waxy, pasted-on appearance and range in size from very small to more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) across. The precise cause isn’t known, but these lesions are seen in aging skin. Typically, seborrheic keratoses don’t become cancerous, but they can resemble skin cancer. 

Damage to the skin’s Collagen. Collagen is called the glue that holds our bodies together. It makes up about 25 percent of the amounts of proteins in the human body. Without it, the body would, quite literally, fall apart. 

Sun damages the skin’s collagen which is indicated by fine lines, deeper wrinkles, a thickened skin texture and easy bruising on sun-exposed areas, especially the back of the hands and forearms. 

I am not a doctor but I am concerned about skin cancer and understand the importance of protecting my skin.

Look for the conclusion of this article in next week’s blog titled: Prevention of Sun Damage (part 2)

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

The Cold Hard Truth About Iceberg Lake

The Story Behind The Name

The 3,000 foot drop from Iceberg Peak to Iceberg Lake

The 3,000 foot drop from Iceberg Peak to Iceberg Lake

If you have never hiked to Iceberg Lake you have robbed yourself of one of the best hikes in Glacier.  Believe it or not I saw Iceberg Lake from the summit of Iceberg Peak before I saw it from the shoreline.  Both views are amazing.

So here is how this lake got its name.  Better yet here is the story about who named the lake.

What They Called It.

Iceberg Lake was called “Ice Lake” by the Blackfeet.  James W. Schultz recorded that information in his book Signposts of Adventure (1926).

The History

Schultz wrote that Rising Wolf (aka Hugh Monroe) and his son Little Wolf “discovered” and named the lake in the 1850s.  He also notes that the lake had been “visited in the past by hunters of the mountain tribes such as Snakes, Kootenai and Stonies.”

Give credit to the Blackfeet Nation for naming Iceberg Lake.  Their name was simple and has stood the test of time.

This was my view from lunch near Iceberg Lake

This was my view from lunch near Iceberg Lake

What Schultz wrote is a bit confusing.  How could the lake have been discovered by Monroe if someone has already been there?  I don’t make this stuff up, that’s what Schultz wrote.

In addition to Hugh Monroe seeing it in the 1850s; George Bird Grinnell visited in 1887 and saw the lake and a glacier as well.  At that time the ice in Iceberg Lake came from Iceberg Glacier, since that time it has become a snowfield.

This is one of the most popular trail hikes in the park.  Hikers enjoy vistas around every corner and are amazed at the sights from the shore of Iceberg Lake.  The published elevation gain is 1,400 feet and the trail distance is 4.8 miles from the trailhead.

Now for a bit of a geology lesson.

George C. Ruhle described Iceberg Lake in his Guide to Glacier National Park in this way, “Iceberg Lake completely fills the floor of its cirque; vertical walls that rise more than 3,000 feet above the surface of the water enclose three sides.  Formerly, a small glacier crowded its upper end, with a wall of 75 feet high pushed out into the lake.”

Iceberg Lake from the trail.

Iceberg Lake from the trail.

Ruhle explained why there are large rocks and a small ridge along the shoreline.  He wrote, “As the lake freezes and it grows colder, the cover of the ice contracts so that more water appears and freezes along the edges.  When the temperature grows warmer again and the ice expands, it shoves up rocks which are frozen to it, forming the little ridge near the shore.”


  • Take some time and make this trip.
  • Bring a lunch and some friends.
  • Bring your swimming suit, if you dare.  Surely, someone from out of state will make a spectacle of themselves and stand on an iceberg.  It is an unwritten law.  You might be in position for a great story.
  • Be ready to share the trail and play nice with others.  It is a VERY popular trail destination.
  • Carry Bear Deterrent Spray.
  • There is an outhouse along the trail before reaching Ptarmigan Falls.
  • Make a plan for an alternate hike if the trail is closed for bears.

I prefer to see it from the Continental Divide and Iceberg Peak.  Volume 3 of Climb Glacier National Park can help you reach the summit.  You may just prefer to see it from the trail.  See Volume 3 information.

What piece of Glacier National Park real estate do you want to learn more about?

Send me a message and I will get to work.

Thanks for joining in for this small bit of fun history about Glacier National Park.

Not all of it is true, but it is interesting.



Hanna, W. L., Montana’s Many-Splendored Glacierland: All You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Glacier Park, Seattle, Superior, 1976

Ruhle, George C., Guide to Glacier, John W. Forney Publisher, Revised Edition 1963

Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014