A Montana man with a penchant for challenging himself in Glacier National Park's backcountry is developing a growing reputation with park rangers...for seemingly biting off more than he can chew.
Richard Layne's latest adventure in the park entailed a wintry trek from the Polebridge Ranger Station into the backcountry, past Bowman Lake, through Boulder Pass, past Kintla Lake, and out the Inside North Fork Road to Big Prairie, according a park release. The 59-year-old's trip started May 10th, and he planned to be picked up by his wife on May 20th.
Mr. Layne told his wife to contact park rangers if he had not surfaced by May 25th. And she did.
"Most of these areas are in still in winter condition with extreme hazards," park spokeswoman Ellen Blickhan said. "Due to an impending change in weather expected on Thursday, rangers contracted Minute Man Aviation to fly Layne’s route. From the helicopter, rangers spotted tracks in the snow going over Boulder Pass that were consistent with human travel.
"In the afternoon Layne was spotted near Upper Kintla Lake waving his red jacket at the helicopter. Rangers retrieved him and brought him out of the backcountry, uninjured but very tired," she said.
While these arduous snowshoe treks are not new for Mr. Layne, who carries backpacks weighing upwards of 100 pounds, they are not recommended by park officials due to their ambitious nature in challenging conditions, said Ms. Blickhan.
“This is not the first time that Layne has been reported overdue,” said Incident Commander Gary Moses. “We are very glad for the successful resolution of the search and that Mr. Layne was uninjured. While he nearly completed his intended trip, the number of days he was overdue, the route itself through extensive avalanche terrain, the approaching weather front, and his history prompted our immediate response upon notification from his wife.”