PNT – Stage 6 – Bonners Ferry to Waterton Lake

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Kintla Lakes | Glacier National Park, MT.

Distance:  225 miles (362 km)

Time:  8.5 days  (8/8/11 – 8/16/11)

Avg. Miles per day:  26.5 miles (42.6 km)

Total Miles:  1184 miles (1905.1 km)

Highlights:

  • Polebridge Mercantile:  My second favourite trail bakery in the USA after the undisputed champion, Stehekin, WA. As with its western counterpart, the Polebridge Mercantile enjoys a gorgeous setting, with the jagged granite peaks of Glacier National Park looming majestically to the east.
  • Glacier National Park:  Wow! Along with the Cascades, my favourite section of the PNT. I recommend taking Ron Stickland’s original route via Hole in the Wall and Kintla Lakes rather than the official Bowman Lake route via Polebridge. If you would like to visit Polebridge to resupply or just to stock up at the bakery, it’s an easy hitch there and back from the Lower Kintla Lake campground.

Lowlights:

  • Too much road walking. The stretches into and out of Eureka come immediately to mind.

Notes & Musings:

  • Where are all the Thru-hikers?:  During my hike, the only other PNT walker I encountered in 45 days was a section hiker by the name of Eric. I met him and his girlfriend, Ren, whilst consuming copious amounts of baked goods on the porch of the Polebridge Mercantile. Eric had completed the Olympic to Sherman Pass stretch of the PNT back in 2007, and this year had come back to complete the remaining sections. Both Eric and Ren were great company, and it was cool to be able to chat to a fellow hiker who knew the trail, even if it was only for an hour or so. I have a feeling that a lot of people were put off doing the PNT this year due to historically high snow levels in the Olympics, the Cascades and Glacier National Park.
  • The End?: I finished my thru-hike at Goat Haunt Ranger Station (the original eastern terminus) rather than Chief Mountain, so that I could continue directly north to Monument 276 on the US/Canada border. This is the southern terminus of my second long walk, the Great Divide Trail, which will take me north along the Canadian Rockies to Jasper.
  • PNT – A Retrospective:  Although I very much enjoyed the PNT, I can’t unequivocally recommend it as a long distance hike. There are some incredibly beautiful sections, namely the Olympics, Cascades, Selkirks and Glacier, but they are interspersed with some pretty ordinary stretches in which there is an inordinate amount of road walking involved.

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