Tag Archives: how to explore Glacier National Park

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

Whitefish and a Rose

 

The HistoryI might be related to a guy in Glacier National Park history.

If I could shake the family tree hard enough I possibly could find that I am related to Charles Rose.

You might ask who is he? and …

Why would you think you are related to this random stranger from Glacier’s past?

My grandfather was Harry M. Rose and he came from the Ohio many years ago. I have no idea where Charlie came from but he arrived in this area in the 1880s. I will never know if we are family but it is interesting.

FullSizeRender

My grandpa Harry Rose making camp coffee.

I think my grandfather and Charles would have had a lot in common. Both of them were men who made a living outside. Charles was a trapper for the American Fur Company and Harry made a living as a guide in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and when he was not guiding he worked as a woodsman.

My grandfather does not have any geographic places named for him but Charles Rose does.

Otokomi Lake is nestled in Rose Basin and Rose Creek is the creek that empties Otokomi Lake. Both the basin and the creek are named for Charles Rose. Sometime in the past some folks did not know how to spell and misspelled the name as Roes.

The 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire burned up the Rose Creek Drainage and below Otokomi Mountain.

The 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire burned up the Rose Creek Drainage and below Otokomi Mountain. Otokomi Mountain is on the right side of this photo.

Both Harry and Charles had sons who apparently loved the outdoors as well. Harry’s son, my Uncle Jim, was in the U.S. Air Force and loved fly fishing and hunting and Charles’ son Otokomi hung out with George Bird Grinnell in what was to become Glacier National Park. In fact, Otokomi, was a constant companion of Grinnell’s whenever he came out to these parts.

Otokomi’s mother was from the Piegan tribe and it seems that most of the trappers who made their way to Glacier country in the 1800s married Native American women.

Otokomi Blake R

Otokomi Lake, photo courtesy of Jake Bramante and Hike734.

When translated, Otokomi means “Yellow Fish” and both Otokomi Lake and Otokomi Mountain (7,935 ft. / 2419 m.) were named in the 1880’s for Grinnell’s good hunting buddy. The native name was “Otokomi Istuki.

I am not sure how the “whitefish” name got associated with this peak but the U.S. Geographic Board approved the name Whitefish Mountain in 1929 and then decided to change it back to Otokomi Mountain again in 1940.

This name change was likely due to there being another geographic landmark in the Whitefish Range named Whitefish Mountain. The ski resort now known as “Whitefish Mountain Resort” is actually located on a peak called Big Mountain. This is a little confusing too and no one got to vote on that name change.

Recommendations:

  1. WAIT: If you want to hike up Rose Creek and reach Otokomi Lake you will need to wait until the trailhead is open. The human-caused 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire has rendered access to the entire area closed for this year.
  2. GO: When you go plan on enjoying a full day there. The hike is 11 miles round distance and gains about 2,100 feet from the trailhead.
  3. TAKE: In addition to the normal backpack full of camera, lunch, water, and rain gear make sure you take Bear Deterrent Spray. This area is a hang out for black bears and there was also a grizzly attack on this trail a number of years ago. Use proper bear country hiking etiquette and enjoy your hike. I use CounterAssault Bear spray that is manufactured in Kalispell, MT.

Next time you are in Glacier consider visiting the places named for my “long distance family member” Charles Rose and his son Yellowfish. Hiking anywhere in Glacier is a magical experience and you can expect the same on this journey.

I am on a quest to know more about the place names in Glacier National Park and perhaps you want to know more about a particular place name. Leave a comment in the comment section and I will do a blog about your query.

Until next time,

Blake

© 2015 Montana Outdoor Guidebooks

Blue or Turquoise?

The HistoryThere is a special view of a lake that I never get tired of. Many people have enjoyed the same view but it takes a lot of work to get there.

Every time I see the lake it reminds me of just how incredible the colors of water, rocks, trees, and grasslands truly can be. I spend a great deal of time just soaking it in because I never know when I will be back there again.

Each time I have a hard time deciding if the lake is blue or turquoise.

Cracker Lake from the summit of Mount Siyeh

Cracker Lake from the summit of Mount Siyeh in 2012.

Cracker Lake is located about 4,000 feet below the summit of Mount Siyeh. I have been up there a few times and on all but one of the climbs I enjoyed looking at the glacier milk-filled lake. The 2010 trip to the summit yielded airplane views with peaks sticking out above the clouds but no view of Cracker Lake.

Cracker Lake is said to have been named in 1897 after two prospectors left their tin of crackers hidden in some rocks near a mineral lead they were examining on the shore of the lake.

L. S. Emmons and Hank Norris started calling the lead “where we left the crackers” and soon the area came to be referred to as Cracker Lake.

Before this event the lake was called Blue Lake.

“Blue” hardly fits as a descriptive name for this lake that is more turquoise in color than blue. The silt from Siyeh Glacier gets suspended in the water and sunlight refracts off of the particles and produces this beautiful color of blue. When the glacier is gone the color of the lake will likely change to dark blue.

Another lake in Glacier is named for its color. Can you tell me the name of the lake and who provided the name?

James Willard Schultz, who named a lot of places in Glacier, suggested the name Carrier Woman Lake. I am not sure who Carrier Woman was but she surely was influential since naming places for influential Blackfeet was part of Schultz’s agenda while naming peaks and places in the park.

The Cracker Lake Mine was a huge part of the mining operations in the Many Glacier area. A great deal of money was invested and a crude “road” was built up Canyon Creek to deliver mining equipment to the head of Cracker Lake.

Cracker Flats

Cracker Flats with Altyn Peak and Apikuni Mountain in the distance in 2014.

The Cracker mine shaft was dug some 1,300 feet into the mountain. In the end the whole business investment ended up yielding no ore and the investors pulled the plug on the mine.

The equipment that was hauled there was never used and remains at the head of Cracker Lake as a testimony to man’s fight to better themselves against a great deal of adversity. If you visit this site please leave everything the way you find it. Tampering with or removing property in any national park is a federal offence. 

Frank Bond of the National Park Service referred to the mine as the Cracker Jack Mine in 1929.

Cracker Lake is a sight to see. I personally have yet to visit the shores of the lake but I have seen it from all of the peaks surrounding it. I have had little time to just trail hike as my passion is climbing peaks in Glacier.

A trip to the shoreline of Cracker Lake is on the list as are most places in Glacier National Park.

Recommendations:

  1. Imagine hauling huge mining equipment through this valley.

    Imagine hauling huge mining equipment through the rock-filled Canyon Creek valley. 2014 photo taken during fire season on the Wynn Mountain climb.

    Take a Hike. There is one trail leading to Cracker Lake. The Cracker Lake Trail is a little over 6 miles one way and it climbs about 1,500 feet. The first half is also used by the horse concessionaires and it is littered with “road apples” and ruts from the numerous horses using the trail. Dodge the road apples and make the hike from the trailhead near Many Glacier Hotel. Once you pass the spur trail to Cracker Flats the horse traffic greatly diminishes and the smell gets much more pleasant. Get an early start and bring water.

  2. Stay out of the mine. Although it is super tempting please do not enter the mine shaft. This whole mountain is unstable and although it is unlikely a portion of the mine shaft could collapse at any time. Most mines have multiple shafts and drops and it would be unfortunate to get injured or lost up there. You also never know what kind of animals hang out in a mine shaft. I have heard of people running into grizzlies in this mine shaft.
  3. Carry Bear Spray and your Camera. Yes there are bears here and yes you will want your camera to capture the views.

Is the lake blue or turquoise? Let me know what you think and drop me a line if you know who named the other lake.

I am on a quest to learn more about the names in Glacier National Park and I have found a lot of super cool stuff. Let me know if you want to know the story behind the name of your favorite place in Glacier National Park.

Purchase What They Called It from my on-line store if you want to learn more about the names in Glacier National Park.

© Blake Passmore 2015

 

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.

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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.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

 

First Backpackers In Glacier

The HistoryHistory has shown that people have been backpacking in Glacier National Park for centuries.

Some of that first backpacking took place at Logan Pass. I hear numerous people talking about driving to “Logan’s Pass” to see the sights or walk up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. Well folks, the correct name is Logan Pass and here is the history behind the name.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July. Snow in the winter is much deeper.

Logan Pass was named for Major William R. Logan, first superintendent of Glacier National Park, from 1910 to 1912. With an annual salary of $3,600, Superintendent Logan faced a lot of dilemmas such as poaching and an enormous forest fire in 1910.

The park also had very few trails. He hired rangers and started making plans to build more trails. At that time, there were only two trails crossing the mountains, one from Lake McDonald to Saint Mary Lake and the other up the McDonald Creek Valley and over Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier.

Logan is also credited with the concept of building the Trans-mountain Road which eventually became the Going-to-the-Sun Road. He would not see his idea of the road become reality; he died in 1912.

The Native American also frequented Logan Pass and they have left a rich history.

This pass has been used for centuries upon centuries before the first whiteman arrived on the scene. It was a well-traveled pass used primarily by the Kootenai Nation and Salish People and occasionally by the Blackfeet.

Schultz wrote that the Blackfeet called the trail to Logan Pass the Ancient Road. He noted that “this pass was used by West side tribes, first the Snakes and later by the Salish and the Kootenai tribes.”

IMG_4061 R

A small portion of the McDonald Creek drainage and the lower section of Logan Creek below Bird Woman Falls.

The Kootenai called this pass, Packs-Pulled-Up.

As you drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Loop you see the deep valley below Bird Woman Falls. This was where the Kootenai People would travel to cross Logan Pass.

In a tradition thousands of years old, the Kootenai would use snowshoes to cross the passes to go hunting on the east side of the mountains between January and March.

The Kootenai would follow McDonald Creek (Sacred Dancing Creek) from Lake McDonald (Sacred Dancing Lake) to the mouth of Logan Creek  and then follow the creek all the way to the headwall below Logan Pass.

From there the Kootenai used rawhide straps to pull their packs and each other up the ledges on the wall. Men would also stand on each other’s shoulders and help each other as they ascended this steep section. At times only men were on this trip but at other times women and children were along to help.

Sliding down the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Hikers on the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Once on top, at present day Logan Pass, they would send their bundles sliding down slope into the St. Mary River Valley. After sending their bundles they slid down and then walked to frozen St. Mary Lake and proceed to hunt buffalo and bighorn sheep along the shores of the lake.

Backpacking has long been the way of life here in Glacier and history has just proven it.

For more on the history behind the names 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

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

Head vs. Rock

CGNP Education-smallOkay, once again, this is your head and this is a rock.

It is usually bad news when they meet.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.

In the month of July my friend, Chris Rost, climbed to the true summit of Heavy Runner and to the summit of Pollock Mountain.

While neither of these climbs, in and of themselves, was particularly notable Chris was involved in two incidents that further stress the importance of wearing a climbing helmet. Chris is a medical provider and knows a thing or two about keeping his head protected.

Wearing a climbing helmet is a great idea anytime you are around places where there is potential for rock fall or there is a risk of falling.

Helmets are also quite handy for protecting your head if you stand up too tall while ascending a cliff or cleft.

Example #1: Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for loose rock. 

While rappelling from the true summit of Heavy Runner Mountain Chris’s helmet prevented him from getting injured. The video is courtesy of Chris Rost.

 

Chris told me that the rock was about the size of his hand and is he convinced that he would have got at a minimum a nice cut on his head if not some more serious injury.

Example #2: Wearing a helmet prevents injury to your head.

Hair on the rock

Hair on the rock

In this example a climber was ascending the Great Cleft route to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain. Chris Rost was in the area when this climber was injured and got permission to take the photos. We have intentionally not revealed the climber’s name.

Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been surprised that when I stand up I hit my head on a rock. Most of the time I have a helmet on and it is just a surprise.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Ouch?!

    Hair donation site, ouch?!

    Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.

  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is an orange  Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!

Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.

No rocks were injured in the production of this video and photos.

You obviously can see the benefits of purchasing and wearing a climbing helmet.

Be safe out there and climb smart.

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

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

Where I Could Have Died

Sometime places we go are memorable for one reason or another.

I remember seeing Mount Rushmore with my fiancee on our trip back to college in Minnesota. I remember “almost” drowning in Avalanche Lake when I was with extended family. I remember my first close encounter with a grizzly on the Red Eagle Lake Trail. I also remember getting my first Schwinn Stingray bicycle, a yellow one with a banana seat and high handlebars, and my first fishing pole.

I certainly remember the day I could have died on Mount Vaught. It was that day that I learned a lesson about climbing in 90 degree weather. Some days it is important to know when enough is enough and that particular day we should have turned around after summiting Stanton Mountain Vaught’s neighbor to the west.

To make an ugly story short I ended up descending 6 miles and 6,000 feet with every muscle below my waist cramping … not a good time. My doctor friend told my wife that he was concerned that I might not make it out.

Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught are reflected in a calm Lake McDonald.

Stanton Mountain and Mount Vaught are reflected in a calm Lake McDonald.

Mount Vaught is 8,850 ft. / 2698 m. feet in height. It is the dominant mountain on the northwestern end of Lake McDonald. When seen from Apgar Village, a portion of the peak is blocked by Mount Vaught’s shorter neighbor, Stanton Mountain. It can also be seen in front of Heavens Peak from the Flathead Valley.

National Park Service records indicate that the mountain is named for L. O. Vaught, a prominent Illinois attorney. Vaught spent his summers exploring the park and was influential in preserving the park by encouraging that it be set aside for future generations.

stantonvaught 111 R

The writer near the summit of Mount Vaught with Heavens Peak on the right.

The park archives contain a fascinating group of manuscripts, called the Vaught Papers, that contain loads of information about various people and events around Apgar and Lake McDonald before and just after the park was formed in 1910. Much of this work was a result of personal interviews as well as letters gathered by Vaught.

In 1895, Vaught joined other prominent men like George Bird Grinnell and William C. Pollock in negotiations with the Blackfoot Nation to secure “The Ceded Strip.” This area includes all of the lands, in present day Glacier National Park, between the Continental Divide and the border of the Blackfeet Reservation. This was done to reduce conflicts between the settlers and Native Americans.

Schultz wrote that the Kootenai called this mountain BIG OLD MAN MOUNTAIN.

Blake was feeling good at this point but soon the pain would arrive.

Blake was feeling good at this point but soon the pain would arrive and the day would become quite challenging.

You might not ever want to climb to the summit of Mount Vaught but when you see it standing on the skyline above Lake McDonald you will maybe remember some of your “firsts” memories both good and bad.

Our lives are made up of memories and the best ones are those that you can share with others. Thanks to men like L. O. Vaught some of the memories of the Apgar area are preserved for future generations.

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

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

Copyright 2015 Blake Passmore