Glacier National Park

Pinnacle of the Grinnell Glacier Trail

by grace on October 17, 2019

whew, we saw the plaque which proclaimed we’d arrived at the glacier, but we really hadn’t and had to hike another half hour.

We finally got to our end point around one thirty. We had expected it to be bigger, and i was also always under the impression that a glacier would be at the top of a mountain. but of course that doesn’t make sense; i’m thinking now of those huge glaciers you see pictures of from Alaska, but i know those look a lot bigger.

People told us that Grinnell Glacier will be gone in ten years; the glacier next to it, Salamander Glacier, used to be part of the Grinnell Glacier.

such an incredible place, but don’t let these people-free photos fool you; there were quite a few people there when we reached it.

Maybe i’ve mentioned it before, but lots of the other hikers carried fancy cameras and were expert at composing shots. usually when we asked somebody to take our photo the person would take a few really nicely-framed ones like this.

the rocks were really interesting.

there at the upper left is a mountain which some hikers had climbed up. as we had been hiking to the top we’d also met a kind of crazy guy going down who had walked out onto the glacier. you’re not supposed to do that, and it seemed foolhardy to me.

here’s a short video of the final part of our hike. it’s hard to understand what i’m saying at one point because it’s so windy, but i’m describing how the people went up the mountain and the guy went out on the glacier.

we hung out at the glacier for a while, but as i mentioned previously, i hadn’t stopped at the pit toilet a half hour back, so we didn’t linger too long.

at a little after two o’clock when we hiked back to that spot we sat on a log and scarfed down our little tins of tuna and crackers, and it tasted so delicious because we were so hungry. quite a few others were sitting around snacking and we sat next to a young couple but were too tired to strike up a conversation. we saw them again two days later, on monday, when we were in Apgar Village. more about that later.

we started back down the mountain a little before three and the descent was pretty easy going. this tree had been so buffeted by the wind.

By a little after four we’d made it almost all the way down and i stopped to take this photo. they’re serious about the bears!

it was so fast going down the mountain, and off in the distance is the boat dock. we met up with a ranger who had been at the glacier who said we’d make it onto one of the boats – if we missed the last one, we’d have had to hike another two miles. it was level ground, but at that point we didn’t want any more miles to hike.

a boat was going to leave at 4:15, and the last one would be at 5:15. we decided that if we missed the earlier one we’d be content to wait an hour for the next one.

but when we spotted the boat moored at the dock we started to jog a little bit and by the time we got back to flat land we picked up our pace.

and we made it! nothing like breaking into a sprint after a day of strenuous hiking. The boat was almost full, and i asked the boat captain if they’d waited for us, she said said yes, they’d seen us and had waited. so nice of them!

I bet that if we’d missed the boat we might have convinced ourselves to hike that two miles instead of waiting an hour.

the older couples who had been on the boat in the morning were already on the boat, as well as most of the people we’d seen on the mountain.

we were so happy to be back on the boat. it’s funny that this first hike was the highest and the most challenging.

it was also interesting to talk to the different young women who captained the boats; they all seemed to confident and we so good at maneuvering and docking the boats. one of them expertly did the docking all by herself, easily tossing the big docking rope over a post. their job was almost done for the year; some of them were going back to school, one was headed to europe in a few days. it made me wish i’d been more adventurous when i was that age.

but at least we’re doing a bunch of things now that i never would have thought i could do. i certainly didn’t feel i could climb up a huge mountain to a glacier.

we stopped in at the Many Glacier Hotel and bought an ice cream sandwich to split. In the morning I’d thought we’d want to have dinner in the historic hotel, but we just wanted to get back to our cabin.

when we reached our little place in Babb that evening we managed to find enough food from our snacks to make a meal of and we slept really well that night.

What an extraordinary day of hiking. it’s nice to have that memory, and I sure would like to go back again.

ok then,

G. hiked to a glacier hughes.

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Hiking up to Grinnell Glacier!

by grace on October 15, 2019

Before our trip I was looking around on tripadvisor forums and “grinnell Glacier” kept popping up and I suddenly felt it was important that we try the hike up to the Glacier. I posted a question, asking if the hike would be too difficult for two midwesterners only used to about 581 feet above sea level.

I got lots of detailed answers, everybody agreeing that it was a must-see destination, plus the glacier will probably be gone in ten years. Some said we’d probably do ok, and somebody wisely said we could attempt the hike but if it got to be too much we could always turn back. excellent point!

So because I’m naturally nervous and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it, I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before we went.

Once we got off the final boat to head for the path I had calmed down. The funny thing is that two older couples got off the boat when we did, but we didn’t see them the rest of the day til they were on the return boat with us – they’d managed to quickly scale the mountain and we never spotted them.

The other funny thing is that i had some painful plantar fasciitis pain in one of my feet prior to the trip, but it gotten better, and I bought special insoles. But near the end of our hike I told Kevin that my feet hurt; he said that his were fine.

But by the time we went on a second hike in Glacier, I looked inside my boots and realized I’d taken the insoles out to put into different shoes, so I’d taken that entire rigorous hike with no insoles at all!

Here’s the first signpost, at about 10:00.

It was flat for a little bit.

I had to take this picture because this wooly worm is one of the only animals we saw on our trip! i’d never seen one with prickly things on both ends – that must somehow help with the serious winters.

This is how far we’d gone in a half hour.

There were a fair amount of others walking the trail, and we got somebody to take our picture more than once.

11:45, making good time!

Bighorn sheep, can you spot them? One is up in the top right, the other two are just below center. I had to zoom in a lot to see them; we only knew they were there because people hiking down kept telling us.

12:15, and we’re so high up that looking at this picture it’s hard to imagine that we were really way up there.

Shortly thereafter, i looked at the trail down below us, amazed at how far we’d gone.

We ran into this really nice older guy, a ranger named Ed, who took our picture. if you watch the video, i say that he was on bear patrol – that’s because somebody had reported seeing a bear sometime earlier in the week.

There were no bears that day, but another day we ran into a young woman who said that she’d seen the ranger (she didn’t notice his badge reading ED), and he’d been shepherding people around on a ridge or something because there was a bear right there!

The view down to the lower lakes. This is at 12:50.

I thought these fluffy plants were so interesting, and kevin and i both thought they were like something out of dr. seuss.

So, this is the sign for the glacier. but this sign was at a rest stop that included a pit toilet and some logs dotted around where people were eating. Since this sign said it was the Glacier, i assumed we had arrived at the glacier, and didn’t take the opportunity to avail myself of the pit toilet.

unfortunately, the glacier itself was another 35 minutes away. so yeah, should have stopped.

I’d hoped to make this hike into one post, but there’s one more after this one, when we’re at the glacier itself. so spectacular. but i’ll always remember that that’s where i had to go to the bathroom so bad!

here’s a fairly short video of the hike up to this point.

ok then,

mrs. h.

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Boat rides to the Grinnell Glacier Trail

by grace on October 9, 2019

Saturday, Sept. 14th we got up early and headed to the East entrance of Glacier. I had booked a 9:00 reservation on the boats which would take us from Many Glacier Hotel, over the Swiftcurrent Lake, up a little path, and then over Lake Josephine, and at the end of that path we’d start our hike.

This would shave four miles off the hike up to Grinnell Glacier. The reason we started on the far west side of the park and then drove all the way to the east side two days later is because when i started doing more research about Glacier I suddenly decided that we couldn’t miss climbing up to the Grinnell Glacier. The boats departing from Many Glacier stopped running on Sept. 15th, and by the time I booked our reservations it was booked up on that day, so instead I got them for the 14th. I’d already booked an air b&b starting on Sept. 12th, but i decided to book an air b&b near Many Glacier, and figured that we’d have to eat the cost of having two different places at once.

But the owner of the west-side air b&b refunded me for the first nights, so we didn’t have to pay for two places at once. but we (kevin) had to do morning driving, from the far west side of glacier to the east side, then back to the west side, and at the end of the trip, back to the east.

but it wasn’t terrible, and it all worked out.

back to the 14th –

We left our tiny Babb ari b&b at 7:30 because our reservation said we needed to get to the parking lot at the hotel early in order to find a space.

it was a chilly and incredibly windy morning, and this is the view of Lake Sherburne which paralleled the road as we drove toward the park.

We arrived at the Many Glacier Hotel in plenty of time and were almost blown over by the strong wind when we opened the car doors. It was also raining a little.

The hotel, built by the Great Northern Railway in 1914-15, was huge and impressive and sits on Swiftcurrent Lake, a spectacular setting. Here’s the view from the balcony.

We stood in line to get our tickets – there were gobs of people hoping to get stand-by tickets and I was glad we had reservations. We then had plenty of time to look around the lobby before boarding.

The lobby was fully of many photos from long ago and i wish i’d spent more time looking at them. but before we left i was too keyed up, and by the time we got back from our hike i just wanted to sit down.

We were first in line to board the first boat – you can see it there in the distance. the water was quite turbulent.

We had a great view from the first seat on the boat.

the lake was so choppy! Here’s most of the hotel, the biggest one in the park.

Here’s the dock at the destination for the first boat – when the young woman steering turned the boat, we tilted waaaay over and her stool clattered to the floor. she was surprised at the waves and said it hadn’t been that windy all year.

we all dismebarked and marched over a little hill to get on the second boat, headed over Lake Josephine. There’s Grinnell Glacier in the distance, with the waterfall flowing down from it.

the boat deposited us on the shore and headed back to pick up more people.

Everybody on the boat got off to hike; some of them hiked to Grinnell Lake, a short hike with little elevation. But i think most people were there to hike up to Grinnell Glacier.

Here’s a very short video of our boat rides.

Next, up to the Glacier we went!

ok then,

grace

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East side of the Going-to- the-Sun Road

by grace on October 8, 2019

On Fri. Sept. 13th we headed away from Logan Pass and almost immediately stopped at a place called Lunch Creek. So named because it’s a good place for a picnic.

if it’s not raining, that is. It was beautiful anyway.

first, here’s a quick video of this second part of our trip that day.

St. Mary Lake is there in the background; we stopped off for a photo op. all those burned trees is because there was a big fire in 2003.

We climbed out of the car and put on our hiking boots, ready to take a short hike to see some waterfalls, but then it started to pour down rain.

so instead we kept driving, stopping at Wild Goose Island.

It’s a tiny island, just 14 feet high above the lake, and it’s one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen.

the sun shifted, so i kept taking pictures…

So yeah, a crazy amount of photos, but like i said, one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen, especially the way the sun played over the water in different ways plus the clouds rolling in.

We drove all the way to the end of the road and drove a short distance to the tiny town of Babb, where we were going to stay two nights.

Babb’s population as of 2010 was 174. we saw a few houses, a general store/motel, a steakhouse, and another restaurant. Not a lot going on in Babb. I’d found an air b&b right outside town that was only 15 minutes from the East Glacier entrance to the park; we were going to go hiking up a mountain there on saturday.

the cabin had a little loft which kevin thought very cool.

you can see the entire cabin in the video above. we bought a couple of steaks at the general store and kevin grilled them along with some new potatoes and tomatoes for a tasty dinner.

The cabin owners had bought a pre-made shed and converted it into a cabin. smart! we should put one down at the dock for a boathouse!

maybe next year…

They named the cabin Red Fox, and the one next to it was called Grey Wolf. As i mention in the video, when we arrived at the cabin a few young people were going into the Grey Wolf, but they said they weren’t going to stay the night there after all because they had to drive back to Minnesota. So they just took showers there and left! Long drive. We told them about the train and they were really interested, as were most people who we told about the train. You have to book it way in advance, i told them.

ok then,

mrs. h.

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Going-to-the-Sun Road, part one

October 7, 2019

On Friday morning, Sept. 13th (friday the 13th and nothing horrible happened!), we packed up all our stuff and left the charming Chalet Motel in Whitefish. it was a half-hour drive to West Glacier, where we stopped at the historic Belton Train Station and perused the stuff in the the National Conservancy Gift shop. But […]

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