Saturday, October 15, 2011

Glacier National Park - Day Four

The morning of day four dawned beautiful. The park often has snow on the ground in September, but we were blessed with a glorious weekend. We had made tentative plans, but after a hike like Grinnell, you need to see how your feet feel before starting another endeavor. We were all a little tired, but they had opened up the Iceberg Lake trail. We had to go.

(Worth noting at this point that the trail had been closed due to bear activity in the area.)

Here is another thing you may not know about Glacier Park if you haven't been there. The restaurant at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn will make you a hell of hiking lunch for only $8.00 if you order the night before.

The Iceberg Lake trail is a 9.8 mile roundtrip hike with 1200 feet of very steady elevation gain. Unlike Grinnell which goes straight up before leveling off, this trail takes its time gaining height. It was a great way to stretch our legs and get our feet worked back into those boots for a second straight day.

Halfway up, you pass Ptarmigan Falls.

The real treat of this hike comes not as much from the scenery you pass on the way up, but in the destination. Shaded most of the day by the towering mountains, this little lake never quite lets winter release its hold. Even at the end of the season, small icebergs float in this glacial lake.

I chose not to dip my feet in the water, but M did. I think he might have gone swimming if we had let him.

Our adventures did not end at the destination. Determined to make this a 10 mile round trip hike so J could count it toward his BSA Hiking merit badge, we planned on visiting the Ranger Station a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. Little did we know we would have something to report.

Almost to the bottom and a little tired and quiet after almost 18 miles in two days, we rounded a corner of the trail, looked into the beautiful berry patch hidden by some trees and came face to face with a Grizzly Bear. Thankfully Mr. Bear was more interested in the berries than the family. I don't have any photos, because one thing I was not going to do was return with my camera at the ready for a quick snapshot.

These animals are huge. They are deadly. They are scary. They are beautiful, but this is nothing to take lightly. Two hikers were killed in Yellowstone by Grizzlys this year. Thankfully we knew what to do. We got the heck out of Dodge. The people behind us were treated to the bear growling at them.

People, know what to do before you go. Hike in groups. Make noise. Take bear spray.

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