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Glacier Natl Park Vac in a stream of consciousness


TollerMom
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Day 1-Out of the house at 6:15a because after all, we are on vacation. Jumped on the shuttle to the Going to the Sun Road. Fantastic views. Road not so scary--Ebbetts is way scarier. We got off at Logan Pass and hiked up to the Hidden Lake overlook (the trail beyond was closed due to Griz activity. Ok by me. Saw many adorable big horn sheep and babies! 

The overlook was spectacular. Rode down to the Trail of the Cedars, hiked up to Avalanche Lake along with LOTS of other people on the trail (bearable only because I am one of those people here to see the park)...the gorge was the best part. The waterfalls, three of them, I believe come from Sperry Glacier. Toured the Lake McDonald Lodge and headed back to the village for Huckleberry ice cream and swam in Lake Mcdonald where my girlfriends taught me how to dive! Fun day. Tomorrow is Canada, with the Highline trail coming up on Friday. and now to bed, with the sound of thunder rolling through the valley and rain falling outside our window. Perfect

Day 2 of our trip...or How many things can we squeeze into one day. Out of the house again at 6:15. Drove the Going to the Sun Road again. Saw Jackson Glacier across the valley. Going, going, soon to be gone. Headed towards the Chief Mountain Highway. Cows EVERYWHERE on the road. Crossed into Canada. Went to Waterton. Rode the International boat cruise on a scenic tour across to Goat Haunt. Saw a bald eagle flying over the lake. Crossed back over to the US midway... on the lake and got off at Goat Haunt for a quick bit. Rode the boat back and went to have Afternoon Tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel on Waterton Lake. With a belly full of scones and tea, we hiked up to Bears Hump to killer views of the lake valley. Cruised around town looking for the perfect souvenirs and stalked the Canadian Mountie for selfies. Drove back out to Babbs for a good dinner at the eclectic Two Sisters Cafe. Huckleberry Lemon Bread Pudding!! Took the long way home around the outskirts of the park coming back in the west entrance looking for Goat Lick. Because we need to see Goat Lick! Missed Goat Lick because we had our eyes peeled for Griz. No bears yet. Tomorrow is another day with another chance.

Day 3 of my vacation with my best girl crew. I have officially died and went to heaven today. Out of the house at 6am. Invited a nice old retired Dr along to hike with us. A chatty fellow with perhaps a bit of mild cognitive impairment. His new trail name is Pete and Repeat. 

Hiked the Highline trail. Along the Garden Wall the flowers rivaled anything I have ever seen at Winnemucca or Showers Lake and we had to step aside the narrow trail to let an old goat ...amble by. As we left the Garden Wall heading across a wide sloped meadow to Haystack Butte we saw a Mama Grizzly and her cub ambling up the meadow towards the trail, with an occasional quick gallop or two. Lots of people on the trail stopped mostly to give her a wide berth. She wasn't sure where she wanted to go, WE weren't sure where she wanted to go except it looked like she wanted to walk down the trail in our direction. The smart bear headed up and circled around a pile of rocks giving us our chance to move along. 

From there we continued along the trail for a few miles which afforded commanding views of Heavens Peak and the valley far below. We took the Overlook Spur (we are talking 900 foot gain in 6/10 of a mile) to the continental divide and see the Glaciers Salamander and Grinnell. Amazing blue waters of Grinnell Lake. KILLER climb and what a view!!! Saw some more goats on the overlook. Nimble footed suckers. Made our way over to the Park Chalet for a snack and headed down the longest last 4 miles of the trail ever to the Sun Road where we caught the shuttle. Total mileage 13 miles. Back home at 6:30 for a dip in the lake (practicing my diving!) and so we wait for midnight to try and catch the northern lights across Lake McDonald.

Day 4- Is it day 4 already? Took a rest day today. Slept in til 6:30 because we were up until 1 am laying on the rock beach staring at the sky watching shooting stars, the Milky Way and various satellites and aliens. Struck out on the Northern Lights though. After a leisurely breakfast and feeling hung over from lack of sleep, we strolled the tiny village of Apgar making mental notes of more souvenirs to buy before we left. I've selected two to go back and buy. Confessions of a Barbarian - Selected writings from the journals of Edward Abbey, and The Night of the Grizzly (suggested by my cuz Quinn) to add to my collection of horrific things that can happen when you aren't looking. 

Entering Polebridge. Blink. Leaving Polebridge. Took a side trip to this historic tiny town consisting of a saloon, an outhouse, a mercantile and a tiny roadside free library on a post. Montana must be well read as we passed two tiny Free Librarys on the way. Ate the obligatory Huckleberry Bear Claw from the must-be-famous-since -everyone-drives-out-here-28 miles-on-a-gravel-road Bakery. 

Headed back to the park with a stop at the Huckleberry Nature Trail (Montana has a thing with Huckleberries). The hike was short lived because we left our bear spray back at the house and we walked right into a fire-blackened bear shaped stump and scared ourselves silly. We spent a safer afternoon kayaking and paddleboarding in Lake McDonald. Our evening ends with us making a date with 'Pete and Repeat' and Charlie the Bus Driver as chaperones taking Anna and I to Iceberg Lake in the morning. Current trail status reports lists this trail as Caution-Bear Frequenting. We shall see.

Day 5 - Checking it off the list. Iceberg Lake -10 miles. This morning we were up again at o'dark 30 to drive over to the Many Glacier area to hike up to Iceberg Lake. We drove over Logan Pass and disappeared into dense low-hanging clouds for a few miles adding mystery and intrigue to a hike that promises to be a pristine gem of Glacier Natl Park and ripe with bear habitat. The sun broke through as we approached St Mary Lake and we left one exit of the park to re-enter a few miles up the road at Many Glacier. As we were driving towards the Swiftcurrent Hotel, we saw a red tail lights stopped along the shoulder. That only means one thing. BEAR! We quickly scanned the hillside and noticed not one, but TWO young Grizzly Bears about 3 years old. One dark one and one really light, almost silver colored with a radio collar around his neck. They were just a munching away on the berry bushes. Along the road a ranger had stopped and pulled out a shotgun. He fired off two warning shots into the air, blanks I hoped, and the two Griz turned and ran SO FAST up the hill. Boy can they move. All grace and muscle. 

The hike to Iceberg Lake was beautiful, only a tiny bit of a climb at the beginning which leveled out to a gentle uphill trail for the next 4.5 miles. We passed through emerald green forested areas with berry bushes lining the trail, we passed waterfalls and meadows of flowers of every color and size, and a turquoise blue tarn... scanning left and right for anything that moved. The valley we just walked up was surely hiding all kinds of wildlife. Iceberg Lake was full of floating icebergs and was an azure so blue that when the sun came out from behind the clouds it was achingly beautiful. After a half hour snacking and scrambling around the shoreline to climb higher for photos, nervously announcing myself to the thick underbrush, we gave the icebergs one last look over our shoulders and headed out smiling from ear to ear. 

The only other wildlife we saw for the day (other than the greedy golden mantle squirrels just waiting to snatch our lunch) was a very large doe with a very small Bambi in tow. Tomorrow Siyeh Pass (quite likely the best hike in the park says many locals) with my buddie Anna...who with unfailing friendship, will lace up the boots for another 10 miler so I don't have to hike alone.

Day 6 - Not wanting it to end. We split up into different travel groups to get in the last bit of the park today. Gina, Paula and Gisele hopped in the car to explore the Two Medicine area, a couple old lodges and to search out Goat Lick again. Anna and I headed for the shuttle at 6am to ensure we had a seat to go to Siyeh Pass. Siyeh means Mad Wolf. 

The 'regulars' were already lining up for the shuttle when we arrived. There is a group of bus drivers, park regulars and ...locals that meet up and hike nearly every day. We met and hiked with a few of them over the past few days. Today we hooked up with Fred the Dr and Tom the Nightwalker. Tom is 72 and has been living and hiking near the park since the 70's. He's an eccentric hermit type artist and midnight-starting peak bagger. Good company plus the more cans of bear spray the better, right? The hike over Siyeh Pass to Sunrift Gorge was beyond words. It encompassed just about every eco-system found in the park. Dense forests, icy cold creeks, more flower varieties than EVER..EVERYWHERE!, switchbacks, vistas, peaks, wind, green, acres of ghostlike burned forests ablaze with purple fireweed, large cairns, waterfalls, gorges, the Continental Divide, Sexton glacier, Piegan Glacier. Preston Park, a series of high alpine meadows was particularly beautiful and perfect bear habitat so ducking behind a tree was a gamble for sure. Hey Bear, Hey Bear!! The switchbacks drew us up 700 feet in 9/10 of a mile to the pass with views of the plains beyond that went on and on. and WINDY!!! We saw 9 Bighorn Sheep coming off a snowy field, and one was a tiny baby. We stood in berry bushes (Hey Bear, Hey Bear!) and sampled the Wild Currant, Elderberry and Huckleberry. The trick with Huckleberry is to pick it when its really dark purple, almost black and eat at least 6 at a time. At just over ten miles or so, this last hike topped Anna and I at over 40 miles for the trip. 

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Sounds like a ridiculously fun trip, thanks for the report and great photos.

p.s. Huckleberry Bear Claw sounds awesome :)

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Those are great photos TollerMom.

You didn't waste any time on your holidays. You got more in they I have over the whole summer! :)

Thanks for the trip report. Makes we want to head down to Glacier again (hopefully next summer).

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Mark Wetherington

Beautiful pictures. Glacier is a spectacular place and it looks like you all made the most of it! Thanks for posting the trip report.

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