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.


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.


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.


Going-to-the-Sun Road, part one

by grace on 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 we weren’t in the mood for shopping; we wanted to get on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. That link, by the way, is the general info for the road, but there’s a whole lot of other information all over the place for it, if you’re interested.

Once inside the park we stopped off at one of the historic lodges, the Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and a mile wide, and we hiked along it one of the days.

A view of the back of the lodge. It’s one of a few historic lodges in the park. This one was built in 1913 and all the lodges seem to fill up really quickly – you have to book them a year in advance.

This is the view when we first left the lodge, heading up the GTTS Road.

The road is about 50 miles long and it’s on three different historic registers. There are lots of places to pull out, and here’s the first one.

This is the West Side Tunnel, and here’s some info about it:

Significance: The West Side Tunnel is one of approximately seventeen prominent masonry and concrete structures on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The 51-mile stretch of scenic road is significant as a unique engineering accomplishment of the early twentieth century, and as the first product of a 1925 cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads. The West Side Tunnel was part of the first contract following the landmark agreement. The tunnel is an excellent example of the care the engineers took in designing each structure for a given site, in that it has windows that look out on Heaven’s Peak and the scenic McDonald Creek Valley.

I found that info online, but i had with me the guidebook to the park, and there’s a detailed section about the many points of interest, so i was reading those in between taking pictures and videos.

Meanwhile, Kevin was doing an excellent job of driving as usual, on the very twisty road. plus it was raining.

Here are the Triple Arches, carved into the mountain. That red vehicle you see is one of the red buses that you could pay to ride in, instead of driving.

This is what the Glacier website says about the arches:

Triple Arches is one of the most recognizable features along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. An elegant solution to an early engineering problem, it has become a symbol of the care and dedication in the original construction of the road.

It took us about an hour to get to the peak, Logan Pass. There are two well-known trails at the pass, and i’d hoped we’d hike on the shorter one, the Hidden Lake Overlook.

Usually the parking lot at Logan Pass is completely full by eight a.m., but it wasn’t so bad that day, probably because it was raining, cold, and very windy. we found parking and headed into the information center. this is the posted sign.

So yeah, 55 mile-an-hour wind gusts, plus raining and cold. as you can see at the end of my video, there are giant clouds looming over the parking lot.

We agreed we wouldn’t hike because it seemed that it would be miserable.

My hope was that we’d drive back on the GTTS road on Sunday, and we could do one of the hikes then.

The info center was too crowded but i did enjoy perusing the old photos. Here’s a funny one about the opening ceremony.

“portions had to be compromised,” that’s funny. so each person got a tablespoon of chili, i suppose? They must have been really hungry by the time they all got off the mountain!

Here’s the video of some of our drive. i kept hanging out the window taking videos and pictures but i managed to condense it down, to just under two minutes.

ok then,

mrs. h.


First full day in Montana…

October 6, 2019

…we didn’t get to Glacier Park that day, but it was all part of my plan. It was Thursday, Sept. 12th, and we’d had a restful sleep at the charming little Chalet Motel in Whitefish. Like i wrote previously it’s an old motel, maybe the oldest there in Whitefish but a dazzling woman from the […]

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Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 2019 – arrival in Whitefish, MT.

October 5, 2019

After a good night’s sleep, we spent all of Wednesday on the train to Glacier. They let us off the train sometimes, mostly so the smokers could light up. it was nice to get out in Shelby Montana, with about three hours to go before reaching our destination. Shelby didn’t look like it had a […]

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Heading off to Glacier National Park

October 4, 2019

I got back from my trip to Denver for my friend Christine’s funeral on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 7th. Three days later, Tuesday Sept. 10th, Kevin and I got on the train in Springfield bound for Glacier. so i had two days to pack. It was a crazy couple of days. As I started […]

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spider walk…back to pere marquette state park

September 20, 2019

it doesn’t seem like that long ago when we went to pere marquette – but it was in 2011. whew, time flies. we returned on august 27th, to spend the night and get up the next morning to hike. The lobby is beautiful, and there was not a single person in it when we got […]

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kevin and glenn and sunfish fun!

September 17, 2019

On august 19th, Glenn came over and he and Kevin went out on glenn’s Sunfish sailboats. I had to hurry down to capture it. It looked so cool as they glided in. Instead of offering to give them a hand, I kept taking pictures. And they did fine… After a while I got bored watching, […]

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final images of july…

August 12, 2019

On Saturday, July 27th, we went over to the Yacht Club for a fundraiser. It was a beautiful night and awesome to sit out and watch the boats going by on the lake. i know i’m lucky enough to sit outside and watch boats go by all the time, but this was great because i […]

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