St. Mary, Montana
After three days of steady rain on the east side of Glacier NP, the weather prediction finally had only a slight chance of rain under cloudy skies. That’s good enough for us! We headed back into the Many Glacier section of the park to hike the 6.5 mile trail up to the Grinnell Glacier.
The first part of this hike runs a mile along the west side of Swiftcurrent Lake. At the far end of the lake there is a great view back at the Many Glacier Hotel.
About a quarter mile up the trail you pass the next lake in the chain of four lakes along this valley, Lake Josephine.
After passing the one mile length of Lake Josephine, the trail begins to gain in elevation. Soon the third lake, Grinnell Lake, comes into view.
The opaque turquoise color of the water in Grinnell Lake indicates that it is glacial water. The color is from rock flour, rock ground to a fine silt by a glacier.
Sometimes on mountain trails like this you look ahead and wonder just where the trail will be going. The picture below is an example of this, as there doesn’t appear to be anywhere for the trail to go. But as we approached the base of the rock face we could see climbers above us and the trail came into view along a ledge winding up the cliff.
At one turn in the trail two big horn sheep were enjoying lunch just above us, oblivious to our presence.
We found ourselves hiking while enjoying a great view of a long waterfall. Our destination is at the very top of the picture below.
The trail continued up along the face of the cliff. Below you can see a group of hikers in the center of the photo (small black dots).
The last quarter mile winds steeply up over loose rocks, the most difficult part of the trail for us (especially after six miles of elevation gain in a steady drizzle). But the view of Upper Grinnell Lake and the glaciers at the end of the trail made the climb worth the effort.
The panorama below shows the lake and two glaciers, Grinnell Glacier on the left (long and narrow) and Salamandar Glacier (center). About a hundred years ago both were joined together to form one huge glacier.
Some one of our readers have commented on the lack of flora pictures in our blog, so we have added some for them her (these are for you, Sue).
One option to shave a couple of miles off this hike is to take a boat across Swiftcurrent Lake, hike a quarter mile, then take another boat across Lake Josephine. The drill sergeant who planned and supervised our hike made it clear this was not an option!
The hike up to the glacier was spectacular, despite the rain and clouds. To top it off, as we drove past the river near Many Glacier Hotel we spotted a bear and her two cubs crossing the rapids.
We first thought it was a grizzly but have decided that it is a cinnamon black bear. The two cubs had a bit of a time crossing in the strong current. Just after taking the picture below the second cub was pushed under and down stream a few feet. But it quickly recovered and scampered up the bank on the other side.
The weather tomorrow is for sunny skies, so we’ll head up the Going to the Sun Road for another exciting walk through nature!
More on that later . . .