I’d put in my three weeks notice and realised that I was running out of time to do all the hikes I wanted to do. As such, it made perfectly logical sense to me to witch my shifts in order to work an opening shift and then a closing shift and to attempt to do 34 miles and camp in the 23 hours in between. I coerced my lovely friend into coming with me, got myself a permit from the ranger station (“Make sure you leave early in the morning and give yourself plenty of time!”), and made a bunch of sandwiches.
We scraped off almost two miles by starting from the Many Glacier Entrance instead of the Poia Lake trailhead, but we paid by climbing the steepest section of trail in Glacier (in my opinion) that had me literally on my hands. We were making extremely good time though, even when we encountered a black bear that we practically had to chase down the trail. (I grabbed my phone with one hand and my bear spray with the other–I was proud of myself for not going just for the phone.) However, the half mile leading up to the pass and the mile coming down were the most windy I’d ever experienced. I’d thought Dawson Pass had been bad, but the wind had me sitting every few minutes and waiting for it to pass, and it literally blew my friend’s glasses off and away. Rest in rocks, glasses.
We made it to the head of Elizabeth Lake at about 10:30 PM, two miles away from Lake Helen, where we were supposed to camp. There was a free campsite there and we decided that no one else would be dumb enough to arrive so late, so we took it, arriving the latest and leaving before almost everyone was up the next morning. The one man we saw I later ran into at work and chatted with; later that day, a lady mentioned having just been backcountry camping and it turned out that she and her friends had planned to camp at the head of Lake Elizabeth but had been so tired that when they got to the earlier campsite at the foot, they had asked to share a campsite. I thanked her profusely for saving my friend and I four miles!