Mount Merritt - Old Sun Glacier, August 2015
*Report by Paul Klenke
Well it had to be done: to finish climbing the last of the six 10,000-ft peaks in Glacier National Park. Except this time we'd be loaded for (grizzly) bear. We'd have camping permits ahead of time so we could "legally" (i.e., not break the park's draconian camping rules). Our permits were scheduled for the first few days of August 2015. Before we got there we had heard that Mt. Merritt was arguably the most picturesque member of the six peaks. Now after having been there Sergio and I can opine that this is indeed the case. We only wish we had had better distant views while there. Forest fire smoke saw to that (or didn't saw to that, if you will). Mt. Merritt also has the allure of reasonable day-long approaches from different directions. And one approach affords a fantastic view of the mountain's glacier-mantled south side from an elevation about equal to the mid-section of the mountain itself (that is, not from far below in a valley, which generally tends to conceal a mountain's more aesthetic features). I'm referring to the approach via the Ptarmigan Tunnel. The tunnel itself is another notable feature of the park (more on that later).
I drove this time. I seem to drive on odd-numbered trips over there to Moooooontana. We made our "traditional" stop for lunch at the Wallace Brewery in Wallace, Idaho, only this time we didn't accidentally walk into the wrong establishment for the third time, and this time we weren't "bothered" by the old people posing as members of an accordion society. I love Wallace. It's probably the only town in America with a freeway for a roof. You have to visit there to see what I mean. The rest of the drive was fairly ordinary because we'd done it before. We met Agata in Columbia Falls a dozen or so miles outside of the park's west entrance. We had dinner. She joined us for hobo camp at the same location near Apgar that Sergio and I used the previous year. Only this time we couldn't get as far down the dirt track in the woods because the Verdina wagon is a low, black Audi with a nice paintjob. We hung out with the river rafting outfitter nearby for a bit in the evening before retiring (they had a keg of PBR!). The next day Sergio bid our Agata adieus and made our way into the park to officially obtain our camping permits. Agata would be doing her own thing for a few days then meet up with us later... (more...)
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