Used-To-Be Glacier Park Tour.

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Grinnell Peak on Swiftcurrent lake at dawn from the porch of Many Glacier Hotel.

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Our window overlooked the lake, and it was an amazing sunrise. By the time I decided to dash out with the camera, the light was nearly gone.

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Grinnell Peak with reflection at sunset.

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Blustery weather out on the deck of Many Glacier Hotel.

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Directly behind you is a grizzly bear. No kidding.

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Elizabeth and I head out for a little hike around the lakes and up toward the glacier. Lake Josephine is the next lake up from Swiftcurrent Lake, we are looking toward Grinnell glacier. We spotted a beaver heading into his dam near the lake’s inlet.

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Amazing views for little effort.

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Grinnell Lake, a lovely green/blue of glacial flur. The waterfalls cascading down the glacial headwall suss and roar on the breeze.

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Elizabeth in Dr. Suess Beargrass. The trail was closed further up, as a ranger was setting charges for avalanche safety near the glacier. We heard a big detonation and rumbling debris on our way out.

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E and I spent the afternoon tooling around the lake on a two-person kayak. This canoe told us to do it.

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One of the windows that appear at sunset on the high ridges.

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After a few days and nights at Many Glacier we drive over Going To The Sun and stop at Logan Pass.

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Can I eat that?

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It comes in pink, white, and yellow flavors. So tasty.

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Kaye with Elizabeth at Logan Pass. 

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Kaye and E on the boardwalk to Hidden Lake. Walt is snapping this off, as I am off hiking the Highline Trail.

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The next bit of scenery is from the Highline Trail. It girdles the high end of alpine tundra around the Garden Wall. It stays up high for 7.6 miles, then I’ll drop the 2,200 feel in 4 mile “Loop Trail” (because you are right above the parking lot when the trail turns abruptly N for a mile or so to skirt a cliff face sending you for a loopy loop into the hot humid burned down forest) down to the Going To The Sun road- where Walt will drop off the truck for me while the troops all pile into E’s suby and tour the park and find lunch.

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This pic shows the road below and the trail along the “Garden Wall” which is built up within the imagination as a narrow escarpment along a high cliff wall, but is not. Still, it turns back a good portion tourists, so let its reputation for terror remain.

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The trail is mostly level and mellow with amazing views. The least work I have ever done for this kind of alpine immersion.

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The trail was nearly empty, as forecasts had called for lightning, hail, and high winds. Instead it was perfectly still, humid, and warm.

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The light & contrast at altitude makes me giddy.

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Lake McDonald appears from behind the peaks as afternoon clouds spin from the blue over the mountain peaks.

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Past this little outpost you can hike back over the divide to Many Glacier Hotel, go on to Canada, or shuffle off the mountain on the Loop Trail.

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A look back before dropping down. I pass a pack-mule train with the old salty rider talking to his horse about how steamy the day is. He just dropped supplies up at the cabin, and is embarrassed that I caught him chatting with his horse.

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We are heading toward the foot of that peak.

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The burned forest is from 2002? and includes the entire far mountain side. The summer season is longer and hotter which weakens the trees, then they are infested with beetles that have tripled their breeding cycle, sphagnum moss explodes on the forest floor sponging up moisture and the treetops shrivel- then a lightning strike and boom! Plus, 150 glaciers in the park in 1910, and only 25 survive today. Tinderbox.

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Hiking through the burn, with burn scar on the next hillside.

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This forest will grow back when the glaciers return, which is to say never. It melts my head like the humidity steaming the valley.

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An amazing little flower that I’ve never seen before.

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Jazz hands & roots for Trail of the Cedars.

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“Take a daughter to nature” day. Or “Take your father to nature” day.

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Shel Silverstein sat on the bench there to write “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. Walt figures prominently in the book.

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This rainforest micro-climate is a tiny version of Olympic National Park in Washington State.

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Cedars. Moss. Silver light through clouds. Rain misting through the canopy.

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Greens of all variety.

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Really really tall. Really tall. Gape-tall. Wowzer-tall.

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The most magical stream ever is nothing compared to this little gem. Can you hear it fizzing? Can you breath how cool and pure the air is?

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We floated on a boat. We and our guide had the N Fork of the Flathead River all to ourselves because it sprinkled in the morning and scared off the tourons.

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A bald eagle eyed us as we spun down the river.

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Our water day continued on a blustery Lake McDonald. 4 foot swells and rain showers kept things lively.

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Walt pokes his head from the cab to the open back where E and I sit: “Thank goodness for this little bit of weather or our tour would be a bit…” feigns yawn and ducks back inside.

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The boat turns broadside to the waves/wind as we tack to shore, Walt is topside and the sea-dog catches himself cackling as others are thrown to the deck.

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As we leave our B&B the truck does a new dying trick. This time I can’t resurrect her. A tow truck takes us into Evergreen outside of Kalispell, and the truck is stranded there for nearly two weeks as parts are ordered in by what must be pack mule. We all pile into the Subaru and head back to the ranch.

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Bear grass. Because it is pretty great.

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2 comments
  1. Envious! Miss real mountains, miss hiking without a thousand of my closest friends. Sigh!

  2. The ranch is about the same altitude as Logan Pass, which makes for Alpine without altitude- so hiking is even more strangely easy. I kept a quick pace on the Highline Trail and only had to deal with the people I swept by. That helped keep them at a distance, and there weren’t too many of them after the first mile or so anyway. 11.5 miles in 3.5 hours. I had some trouble keeping myself slowed to a reasonable pace, as I hadn’t been in real mountains for so long, and was going all Maria von Trapp, but in a manly way. I still miss Colorado, and Utahn’s can’t imagine the difference.

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