On October 18, 1991, Don Stolte invited me to join him and his two sons, Trevor and Caleb on an exploratory hike up to Evangeline Lake to try the fishing. Don remembered that when he was a kid, they had caught some legendary trout living in that lake just waiting for the ambitious fisherman to come visit about once each decade! It was a cool, windy day that was promising winter would soon be closing Glacier National Park to most climbers. We started at Packers Roost and followed the trail toward Flattop Mountain until we came to where the old trail up McDonald creek headed NW along the creek. After a couple of miles, we headed across the creek and up toward the saddle (5,900’) between the McDonald Creek Valley and the Camas Creek Valley north of the ridge on which the Heavens Peak lookout was built.
Full elk rack
As we were looking for a suitable place to ford the creek, we discovered the remains of a bull elk that we think had died the previous winter. The amazing thing was that its antlers were still attached to the scull and had not yet been disturbed by any of the parks creatures.
The lookout was abandoned in the 1940s and after decades of not being maintained, the trail is very sketchy, although we could occasionally spot signs of where the old trail had existed. In spots the bushwhack is class 5? with an abundance of alder and devils club. It is hard to guess whether trying to find and follow the trail is any more efficient than just trying to fight your way up toward the saddle.
Evangeline lake from the saddle(Longfellow Pk in background)
Eventually, we reached the saddle overlooking Evangeline Lake and headed down to wet a fly. At the lake, the wind was howling with a wind chill well below freezing and I said a silent prayer that no fish would be caught so that we would not have to handle them with our frozen fingers. As my prayers were answered, we soon tired of this aspect of the trip and began casting around for something else to entertain ourselves. It was with unanimity that we shortly began scrambling back up to the saddle and traversing in the direction of the lookout.
N end of Heavens Pk ridge
In spots the trail was visible, but for the most part sliding rock had completely obscured the once heavily used path. We did an ascending traverse around the NW corner of the ridge in the direction the old trail most probably followed and eventually spotted the lookout above us. It has suffered from the harsh winters and winds with broken windows and the roof in a bad state of disrepair. There were still springs from an old bed inside.
Since we had a long way back to the car, we took a few pictures and headed back to re-engage the alders, devils club and route finding challenges. It was starting to get dark as we reached Packers Roost and the final thrill of the day was an encounter with a couple of black bears. The mother sent her cub scrambling up a tree to safety and we passed without further incident.