After the failed attempt at the notch, I relocated from Rising Sun Campground to the Two Medicine complex. I rolled in about 11:30am and somehow managed to score the best campsite in all of Glacier National Park. This was the view from my campsite for five glorious days.
The sunset over Sinopah Mountain each evening was the highlight of the day. While here, I attended two ranger programs where an elder from the Blackfeet Tribe spoke. Those two nights were probably the best ranger programs I have ever been to. The speaker’s last name was, “HeavyRunner” and his family were fairly high ranking members of the Blackfeet Tribe, which lives just outside the park today.
Glacier National Park was the homeland of the Blackfeet until they were basically tricked into giving it up. The stories he told, and perspective he had on nature; the land, the animals, and the local culture, was fascinating.
After leaving the Two Medicine area, I decided to head to the west side of the park and checked in at Apgar Campground for several nights. It was from here that I would launch my third attempt at the notch on the Highline Trail. I was determined to see Grinnell Glacier on the other side! So I got up sort of early again and rode my bike to the newly constructed transportation center and hopped the first bus to the top of Logan Pass once more.
The shuttle bus system in Glacier National Park is fantastic. It allows you to focus on the jaw dropping views while somebody else does all the driving. I hopped off the bus and hit the trail confident that I was going to make it this time.
I had gone about 300 yards when the couple out in front of me stopped and circled something on the trail with their hiking poles. I knew instantly it had to be bear tracks or scat and sure enough it was tracks; a big one and a little one headed the same way I was going! I caught up to them and asked if they minded if I hiked with them as I was alone and a bit nervous. I had run across a grizzly by myself on the trail about two weeks earlier in Yellowstone National Park, but that’s another story.
So the three of us took off and I managed to keep up with them for about four miles or so and then told them to go on after we rested for a minute. We hadn’t seen any tracks for a while and I figured I was okay. As soon as they left me behind, I walked about a quarter of a mile and right in the middle of the trail was a big pile of very, very fresh bear scat. Great. I kept going. I had no choice. I was yelling the whole time and could hear others yelling too. I never saw the bear though, thank goodness.
Finally, after three years, two failed attempts, and dodging bears all day, I made it to the notch. After the most brutal six-tenths of a mile I have ever hiked in my life, this was the view I was treated to.
This may be the most stunning view I have ever seen, because it is so different from anything else you will probably ever see, not to mention the fact that it took me three tries and three years to get here. It holds a special place in my memories. That is Grinnell Glacier down below. One of the next big challenges for me in life will be to actually hike down to it and then down the drainage below into Many Glacier, which is about seventeen to eighteen miles in total. Perhaps this summer.
|Glacier National Park – Todd’s Travel Tips|
|Top Glacier National Park Hikes:Glacier is another favorite for hikers and backpackers. The trails and scenery here are second to none. Be careful though, as this is prime Grizzly habitat and the place is literally crawling with them. Do not hike here unless you are comfortable and familiar with the rules for hiking in bear country. Bear spray is an absolute necessity. But if you have the courage, you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget your camera!|
1. Highline Trail – The highline trail is the crown jewel of Glacier National Park. It’s literally like walking through Switzerland. Although the entire trail is much longer, the don’t miss section is the twelve miles between Logan Pass and The Loop. I suggest starting at Logan Pass, as the last four miles to the Loop will be all downhill instead of up. The views along this trail are unrivaled in the lower forty-eight. Along the way, you are sure to see mountain goats and, very likely, grizzly bears.
2. Hidden Lake – The trail to Hidden Lake begins at the Logan Pass Visitor Center and gently climbs about 1.5 miles to a viewpoint overlooking Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake is stunning. The water is a deep blue and the snow capped peaks surrounding it make the whole scene surreal. Add in the mountain goats and bighorn sheep (you will see them here) and you’d swear you were in the Alps. The official viewpoint is good, but if you go on about another quarter mile, the crowds will thin and you can find a bit of solitude on the rock outcroppings looking over the lake. It is one of the best spots in the world for lunch. Again, bear spray is a must.
3. Grinell Glacier – Grinell Glacier is one of the few remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park. You can get a peek at it from above via the Highline Trail, or walk up to it from below via the trail from Many Glacier. The Highline route is about thirteen miles while the Many Glacier round trip route is about seven to eight miles. Both reward you with eye-popping views of Grinell Glacier, but from very different perspectives.
Glacier National Park and the surrounding area has some spectacular drives. If you have time tIme to venture out, try one of the half to full day trips below. Your tired legs will thank you for the break. So gas up the truck and hit the road!
1. Going to the Sun Road – This is a must see in Glacier. If you do nothing else, go to the top and see Logan Pass. If you are disappointed, there may be something wrong with you. On a sunny summer day, there is nothing like the views on the Going to the Sun Road anywhere in the United States.
The Going to the Sun Road is the short route between Glacier Park’s east and west sides. No vehicles over twenty feet long are allowed; however, so you’ll have to drop your camper before heading up. Even better, hop on one of the free park shuttles and leave the driving to the experts.