Glacier National Park had always been on the top of my list of places I'd like to visit. This summer, with the help of Glen & Teresa, I made that dream happen. I left Maine on a Tuesday and returned late Friday which made it a quick trip - but it was more than I could have ever asked for.
I arrived in Missoula and drove a few hours north to meet the Holyokes at the park entrance. From there we drove the Going to the Sun Road, which takes you up and down through the mountains of Glacier Nat'l Park. This is by far the most breathtaking scenic route I've ever been on. If you have the chance to just drive through the park, it is worth it. This road gives you the opportunity to stop at many view points and land marks.
Our first stop was Apgar Village to see McDonald Lake. If I had more time, renting kayaks on the lake would be a great adventure! For lunch, we stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge - built in 1913, this building is filled with the history of Glacier. Taxidermy animals trapped by John Lewis, the builder of the lodge, surround a large stone fireplace. It felt like stepping back in time as I enjoyed a delicious black bean burger at the cafe.
From there, we traveled upwards to Logan Pass. This was my favorite part of the drive - mountains views for miles and miles. Around every sharp corner was a new view point of the park. Glen pulled over multiple times so that I could hop out and take photos. On the way we saw a mountain goat, which was one of the things on my list that I hoped to see. Within two hours of being in the park, my wish came true!
At 5pm we arrived at the Logan Pass parking lot to do our first hike (the sun sets later in Glacier, so starting this late was okay!) A quick 3 mile hike brought us to Hidden Lake. My jaw dropped as we came up over a hill and this appeared:
After a long day of travel, I was excited to rest. Glen and Terry work and stay at the St. Mary KOA during the summer.
The next day we ate breakfast at Johnson's, which was right down the road from the KOA. I highly recommend the French toast and hashbrowns. Trust me. Beyond the delicious food, this place was full of authentic antiques and photos from the original owner, Lester Johnson.
Our hike to Iceberg Lake started on a ridge surrounded by meadows. Within minutes, we were warned by two hikers that a momma bear and her two cubs were very close to the trail. A few steps forward and we met a ranger who was keeping an eye on the bear. We passed by quickly as I held onto my bear spray just in case.
After a few miles on the trail we stopped for a quick snack break at a waterfall. It rained a little bit but the temperature was perfect!
We hiked on through more meadows and trees as the fog rolled in overhead. As we approached the lake, the aqua blue color of the water came beaming through the trees. I had never seen water that colorful. I had goosebumps.
The next day was our big hike - 15 miles along the Highline Trail to Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. We parked an extra car at Many Glacier so that we could complete the traverse and be on our way. The day started in complete fog that hid how far the drop over the edge of the cliff would be. Around 5 miles the clouds and fog lifted and I was able to see how far we had come, and how far we had to go. This was one of the most magical hikes I had ever been on.
After a little over 7 miles we arrived at the Granite Park Chalet. Built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway, this building offers hikers a place to stop for lunch or bunk houses to stay the night in. We were halfway through our hike and a quick rest inside to warm up was exactly what we needed!
On our trek over to Swiftcurrent Pass, the weather started to change. The clouds lifted as we hiked over the peak. Suddenly we looked out and saw this:
That hike was the most challenging hike I had ever accomplished and I am thankful that I did it two skilled hikers with me who had completed the traverse before. Although my legs were very sore the next day, my heart was beyond happy.
As I began my long journey back home, I couldn't stop thinking of a paragraph I read in a magazine on the way there. Janet Hawkins writes: "There's a widely held belief that the return leg of a journey rarely lives up to the original. But this idea - that the experience is necessarily dulled by repetition - also misses an important point. As the journey toward something is colored by anticipation, the journey away is defined by memory." As I left Montana behind me, I couldn't help but be filled with the joy of new experiences, time spent with people I care about, and memories that will live in me forever. Thank you Glen and Terry for a perfect trip.