Day 36: Glacier National Park

Whoa! This one is a beauty! We’re sitting in the great lounge of the lodge, having just come inside from watching a mama bear and her two cubs frolic among the wildflowers.

Our day started painfully early, at just 5:00, which was only 4:00 to our bodies which have been in Pacific time zone for a few weeks. We had a three hour drive to the trailhead, but fortunately there was a Starbucks at not far from our departure point.

We secured a parking spot at the lodge and only a mile and a half to the trailhead. I wasn’t feeling great this morning, perhaps it was from being tired, or allergies, or the elevation change, or something else. I had a tough time getting going, which is hilarious since this was the most flat hike we’ve done all summer. I took a few Advil and before long my headache was gone and I was able to really enjoy each step.

The hike was long, 13 miles in total, but only 1,800 feet in elevation gain. It was an out and back, with the halfway point being Iceberg Lake. I will do my very best to describe all we were able to witness, but know that my words fall pathetically short.

First, mountains that surrounded us. They towered thousands of feet above us, with gigantic patches of show on the sides. Those patches were special. They were glaciers. The ridges if the the mountains were rugged and I still don’t know how they were formed. They don’t look like the Colorado Rockies. When I gazed up, the blue sky was scattered with constantly transforming clouds.

As my gaze shifted down, all I could see where the multitude of wildflowers. Every color of the rainbow was represented, the sizes varied. It reminded me our hike in Mt. Washburn hike in Yellowstone a few years ago. I tried to take photos of them all, but know I failed at capturing anywhere close to even half.

Then the creatures. Little squirrels wove their way in and out of the wildflowers, often right past our toes. They were brave little rodents. We watched colorful butterflies flit among all the flowers. Countless varieties of birds flew overhead as these lovely golden caterpillars stayed underfoot. Most excitingly, were two moose. I was reminded of a number of Gary Paulson novels, and momentarily got a little nervous. However, these two moose wanted only one thing, to eat those beautiful wildflowers. They peacefully munched away, only moving along when their bellies were full or they ran out of flowers. Their giant presence made every other aspect of the hike pause and take a back burner.

The halfway mark was the shore of Iceberg Lake. This brilliant blue alpine lake was just that, brilliant. Although fairly populated, we were able to secure a small section of shore to ourselves. We ate our pbj&c, while watching the icebergs drift on the surface of the lake. I’ve never seen anything like it. These huge shelves of ice were just floating, as much smaller ones, which had broken off, came closer to the shore. It was phenomenally beautiful.

The other thing we saw a lot of were people. This was the most populated trail we’ve been on this trip, except for maybe Delicate Arch. However, given the length, we found our spot on the trail, both on the way to the lake and back. Passing hikers who were slower than us, and letting other pass us who had a bit more pep in their step. It all worked out. Until the final 1.7 miles. Then we were completely alone. It was strangely eerie. Zoe, our leader, was convinced we were going to come across a bear and did everything in her power to prevent that from happening. She knew that talking and singing were the best ways to keep the bear away and she did just that. By three tenth of a mile in, we were legit rapping our bear scare song. It worked. No bears attacked us.

After checking into the lodge, we settled onto the patio to take in the views, read, and play games. Not long after, we noticed a crowd, and sure enough, there was that mama and two cubs I mentioned at the beginning.

Our day ended with a great dinner in the dining room that included laughs and tears. This is a really special place.

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