Glacier National Park 080719-081019
We arrived to the South East Entrance of Glacier national park around in the early afternoon of August 7th. After 4 days of solid driving and camping I arranged for us to stay in one of the original Glacier park lodges. This seemed like a good idea. The lobby was gigantic and majestic. It seemed historic as one of the early National Park hotels. It was all of that, possibly to a fault. The rooms were very small, cell like. They hadn’t been updated since the 70s (my best guess). The rooms were not air-conditioned which certainly isn’t the end of the world, but after 5 hot days on the road we were looking forward to a bit of that. All that aside it was still a decent time. They had a pool so we spent the remaining part of the day there. We went to dinner in the large dining room, where I got the prime rib! It was fantastic. We then hung out on one of the large porches and watched the sun set glow behind the mountains of Glacier.
Our first full day at Glacier had us up early to start the adventure. We drove north to the east entrance of the park where our campground St. Mary’s. At the visitors center there we managed to get the most burned out ranger I’ve ever met. We asked for advice on what hikes to do and where we might kayake and she was like “I don’t know what things you like to do.”. I remembered I watched a video about Many Glacier and it was supposed to be a great place to hike so we headed in that direction. It was about a 40min drive and luck for us there was parking on the street near the Lodge and the trail head. We wanted to start think off easy but ended up doing an epic 13mile hike up one of the peaks at Many Glacier.
The hike was up to Grinnel Lake. We didn’t know it when we started but Grennel Lake is a lake filled with melting glaciers. There are big chunks of ice float around in ice cold water melting in the changing climate. The think is this Glacier lake is at the top of one of the many mountains in Many Glacier. The hike was long, but the change in landscape and environment along the way was worth the struggle. We saw mountian goats and a moose along with spectacular views of the 3 massive lakes that are in the valley of these mountains.
Once reaching the top we were hot and tired. So we sat on the bank of the glacier lake and watched the ice float around. Kate was pretty interesting in getting in the water. Some folks behind us were talking about how they had just taken a swim and how exilerating it was. Before I knew it Kate was up to her waist in the water and had hopped to a little rock just off the bank. Feeling as if I won’t have another opportunity to do such a thing I jumped in. It was cold. Although I wonder if the body can only feel a certain level of cold and then it kind of all the same. I don’t know. Either way I did it and you can watch the video for proof.
The hike down was much easier and the heat of that day had passed. We made it back to the van and had a a beer. As I was packing up to leave a guy pulled up next to us and said a bear just walked by our van not 20 min earlier and continued up the hill. That my friends was our one and only near miss with a bear on this trip.
The next day we needed to take it easy. The plan was to drive the “going to the sun road” which is the east to west passage through the park. This would put us on the west side of the park. The road is a bit steep and winding but nothing compared to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. We got an early start and made the drive in an hour and 45 min. The early start was 2 fold. 1 the “Going to the Sun” gets pretty crowded and can take forever. 2 we needed a camp site for the next 2 days. The plan worked! We got a fantastic campsite at one of the smallest campgrounds in the park called Sprague. It is super small and back in the trees. It is also is steps away from Lake McDonald. This was perfect, we were able to set up camp just steps away from the lake allowing for easy kayak access. We spent the day kayaking around the lake and then went to the Lake McDonald lodge for dinner!
Let me say this. If your going to visit Glacier National Park I would highly suggest staying at the Lake McDonald lodge. Now I didn’t see the rooms but it seemed the most refined of the lodges. Plus it feels like a more central location in the park. We walked around the grounds a both really likes it.
The last day at Glacier was a big one. The center point of the “Going to the Sun Road” is the place called Logan’s Pass. It is home to the Continental Divide and is a good point to do some high elevation hiking. When we had passed by it the day before it looked like the hikes would have beautiful views. We decided to yet again get up early and get in a good hike. Unfortunately the the clouds had moved in over night and we found ourselves hiking 12 miles in those clouds to one of the famouse Glacier Park chalets. The one we made it to was the Granite Park Chalets. These are a kind of bare bone shelters that long distance multi day hikers can stay at. It was cool to get to see it and it was a relief to have a moment to sit down and have a snack. Sadly the dumb girl working in the Chalet told us all that dangerous thunderstorms were moving in and we should hurry to get down the mountain as we only had about 2 hours before they hit. Kate looked at me with a “I’m getting the eff of this effing mountain” look in her eye. Which is gospel to me to shut up and follow. We set out down to a section of the “Going to the Sun Road” where a shuttle would take us back up to Logan’s Pass where we parked the van. With fear in our hearts we scappered down that mounting only to find things clearing up into a beautiful day.
Exhausted we got back in the van and headed to Apgar where the showers were. Got clean, got some lunch and tried to take it easy for the evening. For in the morning we would be heading toward Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.