Baring Creek

The St. Mary aspens are poplars for the aficionado. 

Another weekend, another wolverine trip.  This time Sally and I were headed for Baring Creek, containing the world famous, roadside, Sunrift Gorge.  The road itself is closed shortly beyond the St. Mary campground, so we had an 11 mile ski in on the road.

Taken as a whole I’ve had the full spread of conditions on these trips: (almost) no snow in Lincoln Creek, continuous snow and sub-zero cold at Logan Creek, rain and 50+ mph winds in the Belly, and bright hot sun in Many Glacier.  Yesterday came in about average, chilly with a mild breeze, warming a bit and staying calm as the day wore on.  The above picture doesn’t capture it well, but for a period late morning the barely waning moon and sun sat almost side by side behind the scrim of clouds.

This is reportedly one of the most oft-photographed scenes in any American national park.

I got into skiing doing pure nordic stuff in the rare snowy moments we got in the upper midwest, and until moving to Montana classic skiing, on and off track, was almost my entire skiing experience.  Since then I’ve been seduced by the dark side of backcountry alpine skiing, and have lugged fat and heavy (by nordic standards) skis on plenty of flat tours recently.  Last weekend I could keep up with the ladies, them on XC planks and me on 145 Hoks, by roughly doubling their cadence on the flat lake.  But that’s a silly way to go about things.

So a few weeks ago I acquired some used Fischer Outbound Crowns from a friend.  169cm, 70-6o-65, a very subtle pattern cut into the sintered base, full steel edges, lots of camber, and darn stiff in every respect.  I horsed around trying to turn them into fast shoes, but after trying Forrest’s Neo binding went back to the drawing board.  That rig is nowhere near supportive and structured enough for a skier of my slight abilities, and while I do thing a decent soft fast shoe binding could be made, at the moment I’m not psyched to pursue it.  I put a pair of Voile Mountaineers on the Outbounds and took them along yesterday.

It’s been a while since I’ve piloted skis with so little sidecut, and so much camber.  The subtle scales got me paying attention to good hip placement while striding, and the great bases and firm snow on the road reminded me how much faster skiing can be than walking.  They even have pretty good pop while skating.  Post-Mukluk my next big purchase has been designated as a Dynafit rig, but now I’m thinking about a greater investment in nordic gear.

All that remained of the deer leg attached to the pole a few weeks previous.  That hole was wrought by being tugged against the pencil diameter bolt holding it on. 

The round trip to the site and back is easily doable in a day, especially with the fast crust we had most of the way.  We planned to stay the night in the nearby patrol cabin, because, why not?  We could check out some waterfalls in the morning and generally enjoy the ambiance overnight.  Sally’s bagged a lot of peaks in the park, and her encyclopedic knowledge of summit names has me thinking about dusting off that part of my brain come spring.  A decade ago, at the height of my climbing obsession, I was of the opinion that only slow suckers camped away from the car and beer cooler unless absolutely necessary, and would in the manner of climbers since the beginning of alpinism wake very early indeed to make it back for tea before dark.

Today overnighting in the woods is almost a prerequisite for success.

Unfortunately we were given the wrong key to the cabin.  We had summer sleeping bags, but no pads or shelter, and while we had justification for sledge hammering off the door with the available tools, the weather was too good to make that seem reasonable.  So we found the site, did our job, drank the beers Sally had packed for dinner, and headed back home.  I was having fun skating the gentle downhills, too much apparently, as I hit a bit of bare pavement amongst the sea of ice dusted and hidden with snow and endoed hard, harder than I have on a mountain bike in years, punching myself in a lip with one hand and hurling my other pole 40 feet away with the other.  I lost some ease and confidence there, but we still made the miles out in little more than two hours, confined to the tunnel of headlamps.

Day-long missions do guarantee good views of the sun rising and setting.  Gunsight Pass is just left the pointy mountain in the center (Fusillade).

We got home after midnight, and today I have for the first time in over a month not removed my pajamas all day.  A good weekend.

Edit for new readers (Freshly Pressed, again!): This was one of a number of wolverine research trips I’ve been doing in 2012.  You might find some of the others worthwhile if the subject is of interest.

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76 thoughts on “Baring Creek

  1. Skinny and long appeal more than short and fat, in a classic sort of wild country way, and shoes that bend rather than boots that rape, but, ya, I am old school.

  2. Beautiful photos Dave.

  3. Absolutely stunning images — I get cold just looking at them! Evocative and powerful…

    🙂

  4. wooww!! ooh wooww!! these pictures are absolutely heavenly!! so peaceful and beautiful.. 😀

  5. Postcard-worthy. Very beautiful. 🙂

  6. the second picture from the top is amazing! the little island in such a vast and frozen space. thanks for sharing!

  7. Beautiful photos – totally dream-like in atmosphere and quite hypnotic. They feel ready to act as illustrations to a tale of, well take your pick according to your taste in fantasy. Thanks for sharing them 😉

  8. It is so hard to believe that thte “most photographed” view, si a real view. It is breathtaking eveyr time I see it, no matter how old the photo is. It must be phenominal in person!

  9. Wow. Excellent photographs! I love those clouds in that last one. 🙂

  10. Beautiful. Especially the one with many clouds.

  11. A desolate landscape can make the best subject, right?

  12. Wonderful images. I love vicariously travelling to remote (and semi-remote) places. Love it!

  13. Oh my gosh the second photo (with the snowy mountains) is absolutely STUNNING !!! 😀 😀
    Great work!

  14. Your blog is amazing! I love when Freshly Pressed presses blogs that I can lose myself in! Congrats by the way!

    This blog really makes me want to move back to CO and take in all the mountain activity that I love.

    1. Agreed Love this.. and this makes me homesick for MT. Many Glacier was one of my favorite stomps when lived there .. Thank you so much for the trip back with your words and photos!

  15. Capturing Light February.13.2012 — 11:41

    Dave – I love finding pieces of home on WordPress. This is a stunning picture of St Mary’s and Wild Goose Island. I consider Glacier my childhood backyard as I grew up in Whitefish. However I hate to admit that I have never seen the east side in winter because of obvious reasons. Thanks for sharing your treks and congratulations on being Fressly Pressed!
    ~Sue

  16. Glacier Park is one of my favorite places in the world! . . . I’ve been there most every summer since I was a child! . . . You are a courageous soul to brave the wintry climes!!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  17. absolutely natural beauty…. spectacular!

  18. so beautiful! i love the pictures!

    Colourful-Frutsel

  19. excellent photos and a really interesting read

  20. Wow, this looks like heaven’s paradise.

  21. I’m just going to put on all of my gear and stare at that landscape picture of the valley while I climb those peaks in my mind…

  22. Looks incredible, very inspiring.

  23. I thank God for making such a beautiful planet for us to live on. Thanks for catching its beauty on camera. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  24. Truly awe-inspiring pics. Wow.

  25. Beautiful shots! I especially like the first – the mood is just perfect.

  26. i feel lost in the middle photograph, absolutely breathtaking. Thanks!

  27. wow..these photos are so beautiful! the second photo makes me think that heaven has got to be a place on earth.

  28. Omg this is TOO beautiful! I wish I were there looking out at that landscape. I think I’d die of joy.

  29. A particularly beautiful shot! Great eye for the scenery.

  30. Oof, oh my, the second and the last shots…makes me want to grow wings and fly away to there right now. Beautiful work.

  31. Wow, I’m actually jealous of your cold weather!

  32. Todd Materazzi Photography February.13.2012 — 17:26

    The clouds seemed as if they are 3D and moving on my screen. Amazing captures.
    Sincerely
    Todd

  33. Great pictures! What a beautiful place, thank you for sharing.

  34. wow, how beautiful photos, they are great mood and I like them

  35. Sean, Son of John February.13.2012 — 19:58

    Beautiful! I find the first photo of the bare trees with the grey sky backdrop to be very haunting…and mesmerizing.

  36. Wow! I have been to the park in the spring and summer, but have never seen it in the glory of winter. Excellent job of capturing the spirit of the place.

  37. We have so many beautiful landscapes in this big world of ours. The mountain scene which you mentioned is very popular is stunning. No wonder! It truly is breathtaking! Great job and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  38. Absolutely magnificent. Thanks for the stunning shots. LOVE the poplars particularly

  39. I’ve been lucky enough to visit (and ski in) Montana, so thanks of the photos and reminder of the spectacular scenery. It sounds like a wonderful day trip!

  40. These images are breathtaking. Would love to go there someday!

  41. This is beautiful

    Happy Valentines Day!

    from lavenderdaffodils.wordpress.com

  42. very beautiful pictures …

  43. Beautiful pictures and great story, sounds like quite the adventure.

  44. Wait, this post was actually about skis? It was hard to pay attention with all the scenery. 😉

  45. Beautifully balanced pictures, with an injection of adventure calling. I love them! Going to come back to your blog more often 🙂

    1. Diana, thank you. Your work looks lovely so I take that as high praise.

  46. You have certainly captured feeling and emotion with these landscapes and that is what photography is all about. Very nice. I really like the last one of Gunsight Pass.

  47. Beautiful Pictures. Had to have been a Blast!

  48. You did really well here in difficult lighting conditions. Beautiful shot over the sea of clouds.

  49. These are beautiful photos!
    I am a WordPress photographer too!
    Great job.

  50. Awesome photography!

    Thank you for sharing!

    …following your blog…

  51. Loved the photos! I just got finished hiking for 4 1/2 months on the Pacific Crest Trail in September, and these photos and the adventure you went on makes me a little ‘homesick.’ 🙂
    http://tr4f.wordpress.com

  52. hello, bedrockandparadox,

    i especially like the second and the fourth pics. they’re immense and beautiful! ^^

    happy valentine’s day! 🙂

  53. Beautiful place and killer photographs!

  54. wow these pics are just amazing…..

  55. The second picture looks like a scene from a fantasy movie.

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