Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Montana Memoirs, The Third (and final) Chapter

Stephen and I woke up at the crack of dawn on the Thursday of our trip and drove (sans Sadie-thank you sweet family) to East Glacier. I've decided to include a few "educational" tidbits in this post in case any of you want to plan a trip. Glacier National is a huge park that stretches into Canada, where it becomes Waterton National Park. There are two main entrances into the American portion of the park, East and West. The Road to the Sun that I showed you in the last post is the road you take when you use the West entrance. The East side of the Park has more entrances/towns, including East Glacier (actual town, see more info below) and Many Glacier being two of them. Our pediatrician actually recommended that Stephen and I go to Many Glacier (I think pronounced Man-ny) and hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail. He said it was the most beautiful hike he's ever been on, and now that we've done it (nearly all 13 miles of it), we couldn't agree more. Here's the entrance to the Park (charming) and the trail map for those of you who are into maps.

You can start the hike from the Many Glacier hotel, but we drove up to the Grinnell Glacier trailhead (approximately half way up Swiftcurrent Lake). You can also take guided boats all the way across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, but we huffed it.
We started our hike by passing this sign:
Yikes. I was pretty paranoid. I sang LOTS of stupid camp songs loudly while proudly jingling my bear bell from my Camelback. We did carry bear spray, and it did make me feel a little better. Pressing on, I had to leave the camera out the entire hike. It really was incredible. Within the first fifteen minutes, we were here, at Lake Josephine:
If I were a bear, I'd live here. Oh, and within the first five minutes of hiking, we saw a moose + baby swimming across Swiftcurrent. The picture didn't turn out great because they were far away. The trail was really well maintained and super green. Here's Stephen making his way...
The trail gains around 1600 feet (from what I can tell from the hiking sites), but most of it was a pretty gentle, steady climb. The last .4 (to the summit/glacier) is kind of killer. Here is the view from about 2/3 the way up. It's looking back at Swiftcurrent, Josephine, and the incredibly turquoise lake in the front is Grinnell. These pictures really aren't doing this justice. And we saw so many gorgeous valley views even getting to this point. I had a hard time editing pictures for this post.
It took us about 3 hours to reach the Glacier, and here we are.
We kept marveling at the scale of Glacier National. I mean its really huge. For example, that waterfall behind us in the picture above is over 400 feet tall and half a mile away. Grinnell Glacier is about 1.5 miles wide.
Here's Stephen standing on the actual glacier (I was too chicken to fjord that waterfall of icy water in the foreground). See him? He's a little black dot in the middle.
We spent about an hour at the top, eating our picnic lunch (at a glacier, so surreal). Then headed back down.
No joke and no photo editing, Grinnell Lake is this bright turquoise. I couldn't get over it. Still can't.
Remember that sign we saw at the beginning of the hike? About the Grizzly bears? Ta-da!
We were about 50 feet from this mama and her two babes. Sorry the picture is blurry. I wasn't about to stop and stand there to get a clear shot. We made it back to the trailhead with no further Grizzly encounters- thank God.
Needless to say, we were exhausted after such a long hike and all the mountain sunshine. We decided to head back to the town of East Glacier to check out the lodge (the signature lodge for the whole Park) and grab some lunch. East Glacier is really cute. We would definitely stay there sometime. Here are few pictures of the Lodge. I think there is a hotel in Disney modeled after it...

You can also tour around the Park in one of these (note that the top rolls open). Very classic.
If you didn't want to stay at the Lodge, you could rent one of these little darlings (For the record, I haven't seen the inside, but they are super cute from the outside).
There were a couple of good local restaurants to choose from, and we had burgers at Luna's. It was good. We could sit outside and watch people go by, which is always a bonus.
Well, to tie all this up, we LOVED our time in Montana. It was great to spend time with family and so good for Stephen and I to have this fun day to ourselves. Sorry Sadie, but you can do Grinnell Glacier when you're old enough to carry yourself on your own two legs :) We promise to take you. I also want to say thanks again to our gracious hosts, the House's, and to Stephen's parents for making this all happen. And a special thanks to Stephen. I am so thankful that you love getting outside and making things like this hike happen (even when they do start before the sun rises and there wasn't even Chik-Fil-A biscuits to tide us over). I am one lucky lady. And to the rest of you, GO TO GLACIER. All I can say is BREATHTAKING. I sang "Proud to be an American" at least 3 times while there.
Oh, and I can't believe I'm mentioning this like it is some small thing of note, but thank You, God, for making such an unbelievable demonstration of your creativity, power, and love for us. We felt blessed beyond measure to see this work of your Hands. The fact that these mountains, in all their hugeness and majesty, know You are God and will one day cry out gives me chills and a serious lump in my throat. Seriously. That's the bigger picture.


  1. I could sure use a trip like that right about, more like yesterday! Looks absolutely amazing. Thanks for this post, I needed it this morning.

  2. Your photographic skills are improving OR GOD just provide awesome scenery :)