OverviewNext morning it was clear that the others intended to have some more fun at his expense. One of these, the largest, was a stocky little Ram. He had no horns yet, but when they did come they were just like himself, thick-set and crooked and rough, so that, reading ahead, we may style him "Krinklehorn".
-from Krag, the Kootenay Ram
-a short story from the book, Lives of the hunted, by Ernest Thompson Seton
This short story had quite an impact on Northwest Montana's Whitefish Range, as three peaks are named after characters in the story, the author has a peak named for him, Mount Thompson-Seton, and "Gunder Peak" from the book, some say, is really Tuchuck Mountain near the Canadian border. Krag Peak, of course, is named for the main character, Krinklehorn Peak is named for Krinklehorn, Krag's bullying adopted brother, and Mount Scotty 6510' is named for Scotty MacDougall, the "evil" great white hunter who relentlessly pursues Krag for his one-of-a-kind set of horns. The author states that much of the story, written in the late 1800's, is historical in nature, whatever the case, Krag, the Kootenay Ram, at least, in my humble opinion, is the best story in the book and makes the book worth purchasing.
Mount Thompson-Seton, at 7820', is the fourth highest summit in the United States portion of the Whitefish Range. The mountain is located in the north-central portion of the range. This unique location presents sweeping views in every direction from the summit.
To the north, past Tuchuck Mountain, lie the Canadian Rockies of southern British Columbia. To the east, past Wedge and Hornet Mountains, the rugged majesty of the peaks of Glacier National Park. To the south, extensive views of the Whitefish Range, and to the west, the peaks of the Ten Lakes Scenic Area of the Whitefish Range. MANY of these peaks have pages posted for them on Summitpost.
Getting ThereThere are three different ways to get to Mount Thompson-Seton, unfortunately, none of them are very good, so I will only go into detail on what I think is the best way to get there. From downtown Columbia Falls drive 16.2 miles to West Glacier, turn left and enter Glacier National Park. Drive 2.1 miles to the Camas Road. Turn left and drive up the Camas Road for 11.7 miles to the intersection with the Northfork Road (#486). This way is longer but by doing this you avoid the portion of the Northfork Road, that is by far, the worst excuse for a road that I have ever driven on. Turn right on the Northfork Road. After driving 12.8 miles you will pass the famous Polebridge entrance to Glacier National Park. Drive north of Polebridge for approximately another 10 miles...looking for the Whale Creek Road (#318) on the left. You will actually pass over Whale Creek before you come to the Whale Creek Rd. Turn left on Whale Creek Road and drive for 11.2 miles (passing up FS Road #9805 which takes you to the TH for Hornet Mountain and Wedge Mountain) til coming to FS Road #1674. Bear right here and continue driving for an additional 2.4 miles to the dead-end, and the trail-head. If you come this way, you will pass the standard route for Thompson-Seton which begins at the gated turn-off for the Ninko Cabin. We based our route decision on the fact that there are varying numbers out there for the length of the standard route. We THINK this route is shorter, but probably is not as well-maintained.
A single vehicle entry pass for Glacier National Park for one week for the year 2012 is still $25 and a one year pass is $35. Whether you're visiting the area or a local, you'll more than likely already have one or the other.
If you choose to ascend Thompson-Seton via this route, there are a total of three trails that get you to where you need to be. Starting at the TH, with the Whale Creek Trail #11. Travel briefly on #11 for about a tenth of a mile before it junctions with the Inuya Creek Trail #79, coming in from the right.
Hike up #79 (down low...quite brushy) for about 3.1 miles gaining about 1450' in elevation. There are a couple of crossings of Inuya Creek, which presented no problems, in September. At this point, #79 junctions with the Ninko-Thompson-Seton Trail #28 coming from the east or right. Junction pictured below.
Head east on #28 on a really long switchback. Eventually, the switchbacks shorten as you ascend the trail between the long ridge running to the east, which is Masonry Peak, and an un-named point to the west. Round the point and head north on the trail and you get a nice zoom shot of Thompson-Seton's south ridge.
We stayed on #28 for about 2.5 miles gaining about another 1200' until reaching the large dead log...where we decided to go off-trail and ascend the south ridge directly (according to maps the trail goes all the way to the summit).
Ascend the ridge for about .3 miles gaining about 400'. Nothing worse than steep Class 2. You reach the summit rather quickly, where there are the remains of an old lookout and a large summit cairn to greet you.
|Terrain||One-Way Mileage||Elevation Gain|
|Trail #11||.11||0'||Trail #79||3.1||1446'||Trail #28||2.48||1197'||South ridge to summit||.31||405'||Total||6.00||3048'|
Camping and RedTapeMount Thompson-Seton is located in the Flathead National Forest which is bear country. Don't hike alone, make noise as you hike, and carry bear spray and know how to use it. We did see bear sign on this hike (in fact, a sow grizzly and two large cubs at close range) and the Whitefish Range is chock full of healthy-sized black bears and the occasional grizzly.
There is lots of water available on this hike. A map of the Flathead National Forest and the Glacier View Ranger District is helpful in negotiating the many Forest Service Roads. Bug repellent is an absolute necessity in Montana in June, July and sometimes August. No ticks were seen on this hike.
The closest official campground is the Ninko Cabin. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this is only available in winter. A nice summer alternative is the Hornet Lookout on Hornet Mountain.