We’re officially 10 days in and through our second National Park! This chapter also had the added surprise of the western half of the park catching fire just three days before we arrived, but what can you do!
The western half of the park had three lightning strikes three nights before our arrival, causing over 4000 acres to catch fire by the time we got to Glacier on Tuesday. It was sad to hear, and majority of our days were smoky with a few evenings of raining ash as we ate our dinners. Not the most ideal conditions but we made the best of our time and got nearly 42 miles hiking in, mostly just tried to not breathe in too much 😉!
Bear Sighting Tally: 1 1/2
During the majority of our trip through Glacier, our bear sighting count remained at 1/2 (remember our viewing of a bear’s head briefly as it jumped through the bushes in Grand Tetons?) but on our way out of the park Nick spotted a bear crossing a stream near the Swiftcurrent Lake. This was an ideal bear sighting if you ask me, several hundred feet away and from the car!
Although I wasn’t too keen on seeing bears, I was very excited for us to able to increase our moose sighting count to three!
On one of our last hikes, we walked up on a giant bull moose eating his breakfast grasses beside the trail. A couple we met later on that day said he had actually charged at them shortly before our own sighting! So good thing we walked up on him while he was eating and didn’t interrupt his swim in the lake like the others!
Our other two moose sightings came towards the end of the same hike as two baby moose were enjoying some brush up on the hill. Luckily they kept to themselves and better yet, the moose parent was not in sight to come intimidate us while we sat and watched from a distance.
We found that similar to Grand Teton, Glacier had another “fight to the death” style camping system…okay, not really, but a first come, first serve system at a popular campsite is just asking for trouble if you ask me! We camped our first night at Two Medicine campground which is in the southern section of the park. We figured we would grab a spot when we first entered the park, and could “fight to the death” early the next morning for the prized Many Glacier camping spot.
We were able to get in a 10 mile hike our first day up to Upper Two Medicine Lake, which was a pleasant hike with waterfalls and a beautiful (yet hazy) lake.
As we hiked, signs continued to remind us that we were officially “in Grizzly Country,” so I had my head on a swivel and began a new game with Nick called “constant conversation” where we come up with random topics to talk about so we are constantly making noise in order to not surprise any bears! And if you read carefully above, you’d know at this point that we did not in fact see any bears on our hikes…but that doesn’t mean I was any less paranoid of grizzlies for the next 4 days! We heard of several cub sightings which is pretty much my nightmare!
The next morning, at 6am bright and early, we raced to Many Glacier to nab a campsite. Luckily it was a similar car line experience as Jenny Lake was in Grand Teton so we waited patiently and was lucky enough to get a spot for the next three nights.
I’d have to say if I were ask what my favorite moment of this park was, I’d have to say I actually have two. Our two longest hikes were our best and both exceeded my expectations in how great they would be.
The first was a 12 mile hike to Grinnell Glacier. We were detoured some due to the northern shore having “bear danger” (again, really?) but hiked the south shore of Swiftcurrent Lake to begin the hike. After miles of steep switchbacks and some uneasy trail turns along some cliffs, we made it up to view Grinnell Lake down below.
From there, I wasn’t too sure what to expect once we got to the top, but boy was it amazing! The steepest of the climb came at the end to get get us up and over to the glacier. And this is what we saw!
Unfortunately Grinnell Glacier, similar to most around here have been rapidly melting, but the glacier silt has created an amazing aqua lake at the foot of the glacier. Some ice still floats around the surface, and that water was ice cold! The hike was more than challenging which made this even better to accomplish and see this amazing view!
Our second best hike was on our last day, a 17 mile hike up to Granite Park Chalet. The chalet is a shelter up near the Continental Divide Ridge for backpackers to stay for the night. Although it normally has almost a Swiss Alps cottage look with a beautiful backdrop, unfortunately for us having hiked over to the western side of the Divide, we could barely see any mountains beyond the chalet due to smoke coming from the western fires.
The hike itself was another challenging hike with quite a distance and many steep inclines along some cliffs. Similarly to the other hike, a look down from the cliffs would share a beautiful lake view and an amazing feeling of accomplishment that we started beyond those lakes!
Glacier was an interesting chapter in our adventure. We had our expectations which I might say for both of us were met, but challenges such as the fire on the other side of the mountains caused us to adapt to new plans and deal with some factors we hadn’t planned. Nonetheless, we had a great time! This is an amazing place.
We rested for the night in Calgary and are now off to Banff National Park! Although Alberta and British Columbia seem to also be under fire and Calgary was already pretty smoky, we’ll have to see how Banff goes. I hear the views only get better but I’m not really sure how that can even be possible, I guess we’ll have to check it out to believe it!
Until next time,