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.
G. hiked to a glacier hughes.