What Happened To Us At Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park has at all times been a bucket listing merchandise for me, however not likely for Doug. If you’ve learn his article a couple of Chasing an Endless Summer, you’d know that Doug isn’t an enormous fan of being chilly. In equity, he has at all times labored exterior, and we lived within the Northeast; the chilly has by no means been his buddy. But for me, I’ve at all times been a fan of all 4 seasons.

When I used to be youthful I used to be an avid skier, so the chilly winter months meant that sport had returned to my life every year. Why Glacier National Park although? It isn’t like I may ski the glaciers. It simply at all times appeared slightly mysterious to me, so I simply kinda wished to see it for myself and test it out. So that is my Glacier story…

We met up with pals in West Yellowstone and toured Yellowstone National Park with them in mid-August. This was the second time we had skilled Yellowstone, third time exploring Montana, so I knew it was an ideal time of 12 months to aim to persuade Doug that we should always enterprise the 6 1/2 hour drive additional northwest to Glacier.

I imply, we’re dwelling the RV Lifestyle now, and we’re striving to do as a lot of our bucket listing objects as we will, so my thought was, “Why not?” I’ll admit, persuading Doug to park subsequent to “Giant Ice Cubes” as he put it, wasn’t straightforward. But he knew it was a daydream of mine to go, and we’re working each of our bucket lists, not only a joint listing, it actually was a superb time of 12 months to go that far north, so we did it!

We actually fell in love with Montana whereas we have been right here, so we took our time attending to Glacier. Which meant we virtually misplaced that “perfect time of year” argument that I had heading into this journey. When I say we took our time, I imply, we took practically a complete month to make the 6 1/2 hour drive. By the time we arrived on the West Entrance it was now mid-September.

This wasn’t fully unplanned, nevertheless it was slightly later than we had wished. For the 2022 season the National Park Service started requiring a Vehicle Registration Pass for a big a part of the Going-To-The-Sun Road from 6am to 4pm, which is actually the highway that takes you from one aspect of the park to the opposite. That move wouldn’t be required after September eleventh.

Our thought was that if we waited till Labor Day there can be much less individuals making an attempt to get the move every morning as a result of it was the shoulder-season, and we’d have much less issues coming into the park. We did nonetheless want the move, however with slightly planning, we didn’t have any points getting one. So in that regard, our plan to attend till after Labor Day did work out.

We arrived on the Hungry Horse Dam Recreation Site late on the ninth which is barely 20 minutes down the highway from the West Gate. The Vehicle Registration Passes are launched at 8am the day previous to your entry date. Unfortunately, they’re solely launched on-line, and there was ZERO cell service the place we have been staying.

We bought up early on the tenth, drove out to the place we knew we had service, opened up each cellphone’s and a pill and stored refreshing the positioning till the passes have been launched at 8am. We scored one instantly on my cellphone, paid our $2.00 payment and have been set to enter the park on the eleventh. I wished to do a hike whereas right here, and actually wished to the touch a glacier, however I had completely no concept which hike would permit that to occur. Plus, I now wanted to coax Doug into mountaineering to a “Giant Ice Cube.”

The morning of the eleventh, we bought up and drove into the park, we wished to drive Going-To-The-Sun Rd, and if nothing else, I wanted a map! When coming into the West Entrance, the park is actually rather less than spectacular for the primary 10 miles or so. It’s fairly. I don’t imply to downplay the great thing about it, however we drove previous Lake McDonald, after which the waterfalls that feed the lake.

We drove by way of forests of spruce bushes, however these are all views that each of us have seen earlier than. We’ve seen lakes and waterfalls and bushes. The mountains within the backdrop of the views from the Going-To-The-Sun Road at this stage of the practically 50 mile drive have been pretty small, even in comparison with different mountains that we had seen, and drove over, on our means as much as Glacier.

glacier national park
We stopped to absorb the view whereas driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

But then we drove by way of a decent activate the highway, got here out of the bushes, and all of that modified. Suddenly we have been trying up at mountains that appeared to haven’t any peak, they only ran off into the clouds the place their tops have been unseen. Before you notice it, you might be driving up the switchbacks of this highway that has a sheer cliff face off one aspect and the opposite is a stone wall. You can see the lake and contributing streams under you, you’ll be able to see numerous mountains throughout you. There’s no dashing on this highway.

Even should you tried, the mountains themselves would drive you to decelerate and take within the view. The drive is crammed with twisting, turning, uphill, hairpin turns. There are a number of small pullouts the place individuals park and glamour on the sights, we stopped a number of instances ourselves. Doug was driving, and since the highway requires such a loopy degree of focus to navigate, he couldn’t respect what I used to be in a position to see from passenger seat with out making these stops.

At one level we went round a bend to the left and possibly 200 yards in entrance of us was as soon as once more the sheer rocks of a cliff that compelled the highway into a decent bend to the suitable. There was a really small little pullout that was already full, site visitors was stopped as automobiles slowly made the two tight turns and jockeyed for a parking spot. My eyes caught the motion concurrently a lady standing subsequent to her parked automotive began pointing. I believe we concurrently stated, “THERE’S A BEAR!”

Thankfully we have been at an entire cease, and the bear was instantly in entrance of us on the rocks, so I used to be in a position to level it out to Doug. Now, I had the GoPro in my arms, however the bear was simply out of the space for the GoPro to actually see it with a transparent image. The grizzly was navigating the rock wall like Spiderman!

Doug rapidly pulled out his cellphone to attempt to seize it on video so we may share it with everybody on our YouTube episode about Glacier, however within the pleasure of the second, the footage got here out extra like one thing you’d see from a Sasquatch sighting video than that of a bear scaling a mountain. Oh effectively. We each bought to see it, I assume our YouTube followers miss out on our Grizzly expertise, or will they?

You can begin to see slightly little bit of a Glacier on the mountains within the distance.

We continued up the highway, climbing and climbing seeing scattered glaciers off within the distance alongside a number of mountains as we went. It actually is simply as mysterious and exquisite as I had hoped for. The glaciers actually simply seem like seasonal snowfall that hasn’t melted. But it’s September, there hasn’t been any snow but, which implies this snow has been right here since not less than final 12 months. Finally, we reached the very best level on the Going-To-The-Sun Road at Logan Pass.

The elevation at this level is 6,646′. When we began off passing Lake McDonald, we have been at 3,153′. At this level, even Doug was impressed with Glacier National Park and the wonder that it holds inside the gates. After Logan Pass, the drive down the mountain has simply as many switchbacks however not less than your engine and transmission get the chance to chill down slightly bit.

We stopped on the St. Mary Visitor Center on the East Gate simply earlier than we exited the park and spoke with a Ranger there for help in deciding on a hike for the morning of the twelfth. She reviewed the map with us and identified that there was one other entrance on the east aspect, north of the one we have been about to exit referred to as the Many Glacier entrance. She stated, simply because the identify implies, that there are Many Glaciers there and several other hikes that we may do to get to at least one. New pals of ours, Kevin and Taylor (@slowdeathsuv on Instagram) have been in Glacier whereas we have been in Yellowstone.

Taylor had let me know that they did the Grinnell Glacier Overlook hike. The Ranger knowledgeable us that this was one of many extra standard hikes as much as a Glacier as a result of it was one of many shorter hikes. By shorter, I imply it’s posted as being 5.7 miles every course. The hike can also be categorized as a ‘Strenuous’ hike on the Glacier Day-Hike suggestion sheet. Dogs aren’t allowed to do any of the path hikes inside most National Parks, Glacier included.

We knew that no matter hike we opted to do, she must keep within the camper, so we wished to do one of many shorter hikes so she wasn’t left too lengthy by herself. The Ranger tell us that the Grinnell Glacier hike was price it, however that we should always plan for a full day of mountaineering… But it was the shortest hike to get to a glacier.

Osprey Daylite Cinch Daypack

We went out to the truck and talked about it. Where we have been tenting, it was a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to the trailhead of this hike. There is a campground inside the National Park at St. Mary’s, nevertheless it’s a first-come, first-serve. We did a drive across the campground to find out if there was even websites giant sufficient for our camper. We stopped and requested the Ranger on the campground how late within the day is it earlier than the campground normally fills up, and have been pleasantly shocked after we have been advised it wasn’t till about midday.

We made the choice that as a substitute of doing our hike on twelfth, we’d stand up early, pack up, and transfer the camper over to the St. Mary Campground. Like this we have been solely half-hour from the trailhead as a substitute of the two 1/2 hours. So, even when the hike did actually take all day to perform, we didn’t additionally must account for the 5 hour spherical journey from Lagertha. We would simply do our hike on the thirteenth as a substitute. At the suggestion of our buddy Vera, we stopped at Murdock’s and picked up some canned oxygen as a result of we’re flatlanders, and the elevation was almost certainly going to get to us. Now, apart from shifting the camper, we have been set for our hike.

Glacier National Park
Our view from our web site within the St. Mary Campground inside Glacier National Park.

The subsequent morning we made it over to the brand new location with time to spare, and some websites nonetheless obtainable that we may squeeze into, and bought ourselves set again up. The remainder of the day was spent with Lagertha ensuring she had greater than sufficient train and time with us since we’d possible be gone a lot of the following day. We made our lunches, packed our mountaineering luggage, and went to mattress early.

We have been up, dressed, and had walked Lagertha, and have been on the highway by 6am on the thirteenth. We drove as much as the Many Glacier entrance and have been on the trailhead for the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Hike by 7am. There have been just a few different individuals headed out on the hike across the similar time as us, we handed some on the path, some handed us. Some we simply performed leap frog with the entire means. At about 2 1/2 miles in, the climbing get’s underway. When two off form 40+ 12 months previous’s begin mountaineering up a rattling mountain I can promise you, it isn’t fairly.

It was a balmy 40 levels out after we began, and we have been each sweating and gasping for air. The canned oxygen was a real life saver, as a result of we stored going. We took breaks after we wanted too. We stopped and ate a sandwich, however we stored going. Doing a hike, any hike, you actually get to see and respect the views a lot greater than if you simply drive the primary highway by way of the park.

We felt very a lot the identical means in Yellowstone. You can see quite a bit from the primary loop, however you expertise a lot extra should you depart the pavement behind you. Plus, you get to see issues that a lot of the guests to the park don’t get to see.

Canned Oxygen – Portable Oxygen Can

At about 9am we had handed just a few of our fellow hikers and had a couple of 10 minute lead on anybody behind us. We aren’t positive what the time hole was in entrance of us, however we hadn’t seen anybody for some time. The hike is tough. It’s arduous. It’s strenuous. The increased you go, there are extra rocks than bushes. The path is single lane in most areas. You cross tiny little waterfall creeks, traverse rocky outcroppings, and move by way of some shrubbery alongside the way in which. But we’re drained…

Glacier National Park
Hiking Up The Trail To Get To The Grinnell Glacier – Tired, But Still Going.

I’m in entrance. Doug is behind me. We go round a bend to the suitable and I finished lifeless in my tracks. Doug really bumped into me as a result of I finished and backed up so rapidly. I didn’t dare yell, however I very quietly stated, “BEAR!” and Doug regarded up in entrance of me. This was no small black bear cub. No. This was a full grown behemoth grizzly bear and it was lower than 5 toes from me in the midst of the path! I didn’t wish to startle it for concern that might immediate it attacking.

You’re imagined to make noise whereas mountaineering so the bears get spooked earlier than you get close to them. We have been making noise. Trust me. If nothing else, we have been gasping for air like 2 fish out of water! Like fools, we didn’t pack bear spray, and even when we had, I don’t know that we had a necessity to make use of it at this level. It wasn’t coming after us. It was simply standing there. Eating it’s berries from the bushes. Is 9am breakfast time for 500 lb grizzlies? I don’t know!

Doug rapidly bought in entrance of me and advised me to “GO!” I actually struggled with this. Was I imagined to go and depart him there to be attacked by the bear? How far was I imagined to go? What was he really able to doing if the bear did assault us? What was I able to doing if it attacked him whereas I used to be ‘going?’ What was I going to do, throw my granola bar at it?

He rapidly let me know that he meant GO! And he meant NOW! And a lot additional than the preliminary 3 toes behind him I used to be at the moment standing. So I did. This was the 2nd time in my life that I used to be lower than 10 toes from a rattling bear on a hike. The 1st time was on our household journey to Yellowstone and that encounter was much more comical than this was.

Grizzly On The Trail While Hiking the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park.

I made it about 50 toes again down the path constantly trying again to verify my knight of a husband was nonetheless protected, once I noticed him lastly begin heading again in my course. I breathed a sigh of reduction and slowed my tempo slightly for him to catch up. We continued again down the path to a big rock the place we have been in a position to sit down at a protected distance from Mr. Grizzly. By this time, the ten minute hole had closed behind us and folks have been beginning to catch up.

There have been about 5 hikers that we advised concerning the bear whereas we sat there and processed what had simply occurred and thought of our choices of continuous the hike. I can’t communicate for each of us, however I do know I used to be a bit shaken up. We considered turning round and beginning to head again to the truck. We’d made it over 4 miles up. We’d seen the glacier within the distance. We have been off form. We weren’t making an attempt to kill ourselves with this silly hike. Or higher but, be killed!

Wait. Just wait. Touching a glacier has been on my bucket listing for so long as I can keep in mind. I persuaded Doug to park subsequent to ‘Giant Ice Cubes’ so I might be right here. Then I satisfied him to endure an 11.4 mile hike so I may contact one. WHAT AM I THINKING?! I have to hold going. I want to do that. Not simply because Doug will possible by no means let me dwell it down that we made it 3/4 of the way in which there after which rotated, however as a result of I NEED TO DO THIS!!

A bucket listing merchandise is inside my grasp and I can’t backdown now as a result of a grizzly was out consuming it’s breakfast. Nope! Not taking place! None of the 5 hikers that had handed us got here again. We hadn’t heard any screaming. So that was that. We stored going. I’ll admit to being fairly nervous as we continued. Especially after we went again by way of the bear zone and much more so when it was gone and I didn’t know the place it was. But we stored on trekking.

Eventually, we caught again as much as one of many {couples} that had continued previous the us by way of the bear zone. They have been pleased for us that we had made the choice to proceed on the hike. They even stated that they have been speaking about us and have been actually hoping that we didn’t determine to go again down after making it thus far. But additionally they knowledgeable us that what we walked into wasn’t only a grizzly consuming breakfast. Turns out it was a Momma Bear and her Cub out consuming breakfast.

They had seen each climbing again up the mountain by way of the comb after they handed the world. HOLY CRAP!!!! Now I really feel actually fortunate! Not solely did we now have a grizzly bear expertise, however we had a Momma Bear Grizzly expertise and we weren’t attacked whereas she was defending her child. Part of me virtually wished they hadn’t advised us that half. But solely part of me. Mostly I believe it’s fanatical! And wild! And positively and undeniably probably the most invigorating experiences of my life to this point!

At 9:45am my watch was studying that we had completed the 5.7 mile hike up the mountain. Per the maps, we needs to be at high and on the finish of the path. And I assume we form of are. There are all of a sudden benches to relaxation. The floor is extra flat (ish). There are pit bathrooms. But there’s no glacier. You know what there may be although… An indication that claims one other .4 miles to the Grinnell Glacier Lake. Oh! Ok! So the map solely tells you the way far it’s to the benches and toilet. Got it! Thanks National Park Service for that.

No worries although! We’ve performed 5.7 miles thus far, what’s one other .4? We’ve bought this! Or so we thought… That final .4 miles is sort of straight up! I believe we have been taking a break each 10 toes by way of this part of the path. But we stored going. It’s solely .4 miles.

We Made It To The Top! We Can See The Glacier!

And effectively price that final push. We crested the highest of big boulders and there it was. The most pristine crystal clear blue lake I’ve ever seen… proper in entrance of us. It had colossal chucks of ice all all through it that I can solely name Iceberg’s. And barely up the adjoining mountain was the iceberg that had fashioned this unimaginable excessive elevation lake. The similar iceberg that created the little waterfall creeks we had crossed on our journey up. The similar iceberg that contributed to Josephine Lake far under us. There it was! An virtually completely white, gargantuan, stable chunk of a “Giant Ice Cube!” We did it! We made it to the highest! We made it to the glacier!

It’s superb how our our bodies achieve this little further quantity of power after we can see a end line. Like we’ve been holding onto it for simply this very second in our expedition. Yeah, I do know, it’s referred to as adrenaline, nevertheless it’s nonetheless fairly excellent. Because abruptly I used to be nearly working by way of the rock discipline to get to the lake. I’m unsure if Doug was simply making an attempt to maintain up with me, or if he felt the identical means, however I simply wanted to the touch it!

We sat down on a flat rock proper alongside Grinnell Lake. We ate our lunch. We loved and appreciated the view. We took the time to permit our our bodies a second of relaxation, after which we put our arms right down to the lake. The floor of the water had the thinnest little layer of ice throughout it. It broke so simply after we put our fingertips to it after which broke much more as we submerged our arms. It was so chilly, but additionally so refreshing after our trek. We took our required selfie and began on our means over towards the glacier itself.

We made it about 100 toes earlier than I checked out my watch. I regarded over on the glacier and the hike that also wanted to occur earlier than we bought there. It was in all probability shut to a different 1 1/2 miles away, and thru an entire boulder discipline that neither one in all us was actually ready to do. It was now 10:30am. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get right here. Probably, not less than, one other hour earlier than we may get to the glacier itself, and we nonetheless wanted to get again down the mountain.

We nonetheless had Lagertha patiently ready for us within the camper, and our legs have been already feeling like Jell-O. I took a minute to judge my bucket listing. Could I do that? Yeah. I could make it over there. I can contact it. Do I want to do that? It’s been on my listing for therefore lengthy. We’re proper right here. We’ve come this far. But at what expense?

Is being right here on this stunning second not sufficient? Will our again and legs maintain out lengthy sufficient for us so as to add 3 extra miles to this hike? And you understand what… I rotated. Not as a result of I used to be overly frightened about Lagertha. Not as a result of I used to be involved with our our bodies giving up on us. But as a result of this unbelievable wonderous second sitting beside a glacial lake 6.1 miles up a mountain with my husband was sufficient.

I didn’t want to the touch the precise glacier to make it particular. This entire expertise has been distinctive. We had simply sat right here sweating to demise in 60 diploma climate huffing oxygen into our lungs at an alarming fee and had essentially the most romantic peanut butter and jelly lunch EVER! Yeah. This was sufficient. This second put the massive ol’ checkmark on my Bucket List.

Most Romantic Lunch Date EVER!

We made our means again down the mountain. We made it down in 2 1/2 hours. Funny how gravity and elevated oxygen within the air help in making the respectable a lot quicker than the accent. There have been considerably extra individuals headed up the trail at this hour than there was after we began off. Someone in all probability ought to have advised them how lengthy to plan for this hike…

If they made all of it the way in which to the highest after which got here again down, it could possible be darkish earlier than they reached the underside. But that shall be their determination to make. For us, we did it! The ache in our knees and in our backs as we climbed into the truck was price each single a type of arduous steps.

We have been again to the camper by 2pm. Lagertha was pleased to see us. We have been pleased to be residence. By the top of the day, after strolling Lagertha just a few instances, my watch learn that I had accomplished 14.91 miles that day. Well over 30,000 steps. I felt it too. My legs and again have been throbbing. All I wished to do was sleep, however that didn’t come simply with all the aches and pains. But you understand what… Still price it. All of it.

That’s my Glacier National Park story. All actual. All factual. I’m tremendous pleased with the 2 of us for making all of it the way in which and never backing down. Do I believe everybody ought to go to Glacier NP? Yeah. I do. I believe it’s completely stunning and seeing these huge mountains and the glaciers scattered all through them is one thing we should always all see. I believe trying up within the night time sky and with the ability to see the streaks of gasses from our galaxy are magnificent. I positively suppose we should always skip the journey to Aruba generally and revel in what our personal nation has to supply.

Not everybody wants to succeed in out and contact a glacier and undergo by way of 12.2 miles in an try. I’m glad we did although. I wouldn’t commerce these 10 minutes sitting subsequent to Grinnell Glacier Lake for the world. You ought to take a look at our video of Glacier National Park so you’ll be able to watch Doug’s reactions change the increasingly more we bought to see. Plus… Our Grizzly encounter by way of the Bear Zone made it on digicam! Y’all thought I used to be kidding that it was a 500lb bear!

Watch our Video of our Trip To Glacier National Park Here


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