Lee Ridge
Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I hiked up Lee Ridge in Montana's Glacier National Park on 20 May 2018.  The parking for this hike is a small pullout on the east side of Highway 17 about 1 kilometre south of the Chief Mountain border crossing.  The obscure trailhead is another 200 metres further south on the west side of the highway.  Because we were staying at Andrew Nugara's cabin near Mountain View, Alberta for the long weekend, we were under some time constraints with the Chief Mountain border crossing only open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM during the month of May.  There was a bit of a lineup at the border when we arrived right at the opening, but we managed to get through within about 10 minutes or so.

Initially, the trail was easy to hike, but as we slowly gained elevation, we began encountering more and more snow patches.  Our progress slowed considerably as we muddled through the snow, but higher up, we got a bit of a reprieve when we noticed bear tracks heading in the same direction as us.  A bear had effectively broken trail through the snow for us, and we took advantage by stepping in the bear's paw prints.  The snow eventually petered out as we broke out of the trees onto a broad plateau, and we were able to resume easy hiking again.  Although we originally considered going as far as Gable Pass, time constraints and the prospect of more post-holing made it easy to call it a day on Lee Ridge.  Instead, we stopped at a large cairn to have some lunch and enjoy the already spectacular views.

During our break, Zosia noticed some movement to her left and initially thought that some other hikers had followed us up.  To her surprise, a large grizzly bear was sauntering along the trail only about 50 metres away from us.  As Zosia alerted Marta and me, the bear noticed us and stopped walking for a moment to ascertain who or what we were.  Before I had a chance to grab my camera, the bear quickly bolted away from us and disappeared into some trees at the edge of the plateau.

After the excitement of the bear encounter, the rest of our trip was expectedly mundane in comparison.  Our return hike was slightly easier, and we made it back to my car with plenty of time to spare to drive back across the border.
Polish women may or may not be present... The parking for the Lee Ridge hike is at this pullout about 200 metres north of the actual trailhead.
And no dogs allowed! Marta checks out the distances on the trailhead sign.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Great for really hot days! Most of the trail up Lee Ridge is in forest.
We're not out of the woods just yet... Zosia and Marta briefly leave the trail to avoid deeper snow.
Thank you, bear! Marta follows grizzly bear tracks along the snow-covered trail.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Things are looking up, now! The trees and snow begin to thin out higher up.

It's not a summit cairn, but the views are tremendous nonetheless!

Here is the view to the west from the highest point reached (2100 metres) along Lee Ridge.


There are bears up there too! Mount Cleveland is the highest mountain in Montana's Glacier National Park.
Marta and Zosia were drying out their socks and boots when the grizzly bear showed up! Sonny, Marta and Zosia relax beside a big cairn on Lee Ridge.
An intriguing mountain... Gable Mountain dominates the view to the southwest.  The summit of the mountain is the pointy peak to the right.
Both look like long but easy walkups. To the northwest are Bear Mountain (far left) and Sentinel Mountain (centre).

See the moon?

Chief Mountain, Ninaki (Squaw Mountain) and Papoose garner all the attention to the east.


Great scramble! Here is a closer look at the west face of Chief Mountain.
This was roughly where the grizzly bear was before it took off to the trees at far left. Zosia and Marta start their return journey along Lee Ridge.
A good opportunity to meditate... The hike back to the trailhead is once again mostly in forest.
It's taco time! Back at Andrew Nugara's cabin, Zosia and Marta enjoy dinner with Andrew and his step-father, Larry Poulin.
A most memorable outing despite a less than memorable approach! Total Distance:  17.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  7 hours 8 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  421 metres

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