Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

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Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby danwadas55 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:04 am

So as it would happen, with the news that Waterton is now under evacuation warning - our trip begins at Chief Mt on Sept 2 with Cosley Lake, Mokowonis Lake, and Stoney Indian lake, exiting Goat Haunt Wed Sept 5th. We planned on taking the boat to Waterton, spending the night and then we arranged a shuttle to take us back to our car at the border. Any suggestions of what to do if Waterton closes? We won't have much wiggle room on modifications either. I can't get to the park until the evening of Sept 1. I guess I can try and get up early and get in line Sept 2 and modify our existing permit if the sites remain open. Anyone have any suggestions? I suppose I could do an out and back, but I'd have to snag another site somewhere between Stoney Indian Lake and Chief. Not sure what to do...
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby joybird » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:32 pm

I would call the BC ranger's office to check about how they are handling things in light of the fire (do they give priority modifying itineraries made unworkable by fire closures?), but I suspect that they might be able to re-route your 3rd night to give you just an out-and-back. I think your chances will be even better if you are willing to add a fourth night to your trip in place of your planned hotel stay at Waterton, since more sites are usually available the farther out in your itinerary they are. (And, having a fourth night on a Mokowanis Valley out-and-back opens up lot of options for cool dayhikes without your heavy packs -- especially if you skip the night at Stony.)

I backpacked from Chief Mountain all the way through to Kintla this year, and although the hike up to Stony Indian Pass is spectacular, I found the section between Stony Indian Lake itself and Goat Haunt to be the least interesting part of the entire route. IMHO you won't be missing much if you skip it. I know that many people love to camp at STO, but I found the camp itself disappointing as it was unpleasantly dusty and very awkwardly laid out. I think if you can manage to dayhike up to Stony Indian Pass (ideally leaving your heavy pack at MOL or hang it at MOJ for the day?), you'll get as much or more out of the trip as you would you made it all the way to the camp.

SO, although you could probably modify and get a 4-night itinerary like COS-MOL-STO-GLF or something like that, I would recommend skipping STO and trying for something like COS-MOL-MOL(or MOJ or GLH)-COS. By switching out your night at Stony and adding the fourth day, you'd have even more options. For example, if you had an extra night in the western end of the valley, a dayhike to Stony Indian Pass would be easy and you might be able to even squeeze in a visit to Margaret Lake if you were feeling ambitious. If you ended up in the eastern end of the valley, you could head up to the Bear Mountain Overlook.

Good luck!
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby danwadas55 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:10 am

Thanks Joybird. I spent the evening going over the options and came to some of the same conclusions especially about adding the fourth night. It looks like almost all of those sites have consistently had plenty of walk ups available for the 3rd and 4th night out so I hoped that wouldn’t be that hard of a change. I had also considered the bushwack to Margaret. I’ll give them a call and report back if anyone else is in a similar situation.
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby teapot57 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:34 am

Great advice from Joybird!

I personally liked STO, but it is definitely a campground you either love or hate. It’s very rugged and spreadout and there are nuisance deer, but there are lots of things I really liked about it. I really enjoyed the short hike down from the Pass to the campground as it switchbacks down and then follows alongside the lake. It is a very scenic cirque, and there are cool boulders to sit on and enjoy the view before you wrap around the lake. There are great views from the cooking area and it was nice to not have to throw the bear rope since there is a bear box there. The walk from the food prep to the campsites is a bit rugged— I actually wiped out once, but I’m a klutz. And if you take the campsite that is perched on the rocky outcrop you will do a little scrambling to get up there if your legs are short, but it has an amazing view of the lake. I really liked the remote feel of the campground, and the view from the pit toilet is also pretty amazing. :D

I wholeheartedly agree that you lose the views shortly after STO and you won’t be missing anything by skipping the section between STO and Goat Haunt. I personally would keep STO and do an out and back by adding a 4th night. But Margaret Lake is also amazing, so if you follow Joyce’s suggestion and swap out your 3rd night and add a 4th, you can’t go wrong there either! It may all depend on what’s available when you talk to the rangers but I think you will be happy either way, keeping STO or swapping it out. Good luck!
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby teapot57 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:50 am

Another thought- you could also scoot up to Margaret Lake the day you hike from COS to MOL. I didn’t run my GPS but Margaret can’t be more than 1 1/2 miles beyond MOL. My point being you could keep STO and still fit Margaret in on your second day.
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby joybird » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:09 pm

teapot57 wrote: I didn’t run my GPS but Margaret can’t be more than 1 1/2 miles beyond MOL.


My GPS showed about 3.1 miles from GLH to Margaret, but that included a little wandering around. The park's "official" distance from GLH to MOL is 1.6, so if we assume that is correct (tho NPS isn't always... :roll:) it means that Teapot hit it square on the nose: assume a hair under 1.5 from MOL to Margaret.

She's also spot on that Margaret is VERY doable on the same day you come from Cosley. I did that one year (though I set up my tent at GLH en route not MOL) so I'm not sure why I didn't think to suggest it too? For me, the downside of doing that was I didn't get to Margaret until the afternoon and having the sun in the West meant that most of my pictures were taken looking into the sun; not ideal, especially with my limited skills and little point-and-shoot camera. This year I got there earlier and I that was much nicer. Still, Ms. Maggie is worth visiting at any time of day -- as long as you have done your homework about the route and/or are comfortable with a little route-finding and short scramble and are prepared to make LOTS and LOTS of noise to give the bears the heads-up as you work your way through the very tall brush alongside a seriously LOUD creek. :shock:
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Re: Modify Itinerary Advice - Possible Waterton Evacuation

Postby paul » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:56 am

joybird wrote:
teapot57 wrote: I didn’t run my GPS but Margaret can’t be more than 1 1/2 miles beyond MOL.


My GPS showed about 3.1 miles from GLH to Margaret, but that included a little wandering around. The park's "official" distance from GLH to MOL is 1.6, so if we assume that is correct (tho NPS isn't always... :roll:) it means that Teapot hit it square on the nose: assume a hair under 1.5 from MOL to Margaret.

She's also spot on that Margaret is VERY doable on the same day you come from Cosley. I did that one year (though I set up my tent at GLH en route not MOL) so I'm not sure why I didn't think to suggest it too? For me, the downside of doing that was I didn't get to Margaret until the afternoon and having the sun in the West meant that most of my pictures were taken looking into the sun; not ideal, especially with my limited skills and little point-and-shoot camera. This year I got there earlier and I that was much nicer. Still, Ms. Maggie is worth visiting at any time of day -- as long as you have done your homework about the route and/or are comfortable with a little route-finding and short scramble and are prepared to make LOTS and LOTS of noise to give the bears the heads-up as you work your way through the very tall brush alongside a seriously LOUD creek. :shock:


For whatever it's worth, I mapped it out and it looks to be about a mile from MOL campground to Margaret (maybe I missed a few switchbacks).
https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=7292824 It takes like 40 minutes but a lot of time is spent scrambling on rocks and working through brushy areas.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
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