Friday, July 27, 2007

The park formerly known as Glacier

After Yellowstone Kimbal and I headed northwest towards our last national park of the trip: Glacier National Park. Yellowstone to Glacier is a pretty long drive, so we made a one night stop over in Missoula, Mt. In Missoula we found a really nice coffee/tea/wine café where we parked ourselves for a day and did some serious blog updating and Kimbal did some more job search type stuff. Other than the café, we weren’t too impressed with Missoula. It could have been the heat wave though; the high temperature in Missoula ranged from 97 to 107 while we were there. So when we were done internetting, we got some groceries and quickly left town for Glacier.

We arrived in Glacier on Sunday evening and found ourselves a nice campsite at the Avalanche Campground. After we finished dinner we headed over to the campground amphitheater for our first ranger talk of the trip. This program was about bears in the park. Since Glacier has the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, I wanted to learn a bit about them before I set out on the hiking trails. The talk was pretty interesting and the ranger even had us singing campfire songs. The rangers advice for hiking was to make lots of noise, so you don’t surprise any bears. Also, Glacier is pretty good about bear management, and if too many bear sightings happen on one trail, they will close that trail. For example, a grizzly bear had been false-charging people on one particular trail the week before, so that trail was closed while we were in the park. We were loud hikers while we were in the park and didn’t see a single bear. (I was a little disappointed. I didn’t want to see one up close—that would be scary, but seeing one across a meadow, or something, would have been neat.)

(Kimbal writing now)

On our first full day in the park we did the “loop hike”, which is actually an 11.6 mile one way shuttle hike. The hike started at elevation 4,500 ft in an area that burned a few years ago in a forest fire, and then progressed up to an alpine environment over elevation 6,000 ft. It started out at a balmy 80 degrees, but as we climbed it quickly cooled off to the lower 50s and windy, and we found ourselves a little underdressed.

We were promised by the ranger that we spoke with that the bighorn sheep and mountain goats would be waiting for us up there, and after hiking the first 7 miles of no wildlife other than an overly friendly marmot we were starting to wonder.

The rangers were right though, and we found a bighorn sheep about 150-ft off the trail nonchalantly munching on some grass muttering to itself “dumb tourists, staring at me while I’m eating my lunch, why don’t they go stare at the mountain goats instead”.

So we did. A little farther down the trail we came across a mother goat with her kid which hardly seemed to notice we were standing less than 30-ft away. We didn’t want to get too close to the animals, and they were standing right on the trail, so we walked up and around and continued on our way. All in all, a great hike.

The next morning we took a stroll up to Avalanche Lake from our campground to start the day.

We left the campsite and headed to the east side of the park via the Going to the Sun Road, and stopped at Logan Pass again and went up to the hidden lake overlook. It’s a mile and a half each way up a hill, and it looked pretty tame from the ranger station so I decided to wear my flip flops. Once we got over the first hill, we discovered the trail wasn’t quite as tame as we thought as it was covered in snow. We continued on anyway, and I gingerly made my way over the snow. The lake was beautiful, and well worth the slippery trip.

1 comment:

abmatic said...

ah yes, the old flip flops in the snow technique. good one kimbal!