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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Adventure Honeymoon 2013 - Glacier Exploration Post-Trip

We arose early with unabashed anticipation for our delectable huckleberry bear claws; there was also our boat tour adventure on the horizon. We quickly loaded the car and began our journey to Many Glacier Hotel via the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to stop, due to trying not to be late to our boat tour.

Many Glacier Hotel was built in 1914. The original owner was obsessed with the Alps, so Many Glacier Hotel was constructed to look like a Swiss chalet and early advertising described Glacier as "Switzerland of America". It is a beautiful hotel.

Once we arrived, we walked to the boathouse to pick up our tickets and board the boat. Our guide told historic tales of the surrounding landscape while we glided along Swiftcurrent Lake.

Upon reaching the head of the lake, we walked to another boat to begin our journey across Lake Josephine. Earlier that morning, our guide mentioned that there were some moose in the shallows. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see any critters while in the boat.

Part of why we chose this boat tour was for the chance to hike to Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake, while experiencing a boat tour and cutting over 5 miles off of our hike! The hike up to the lake was rather eventful. We met a father and son out for a couple nights that recommended the Wind River Range, some bighorn rams playing and eating on the trail, stunning vistas, and plentiful thimbleberries for Ben to munch on.

After the full day of driving in the car the day prior, our legs were pretty stiff, but we still made good time and quickly arrived at the end of our hike. We saw many people taking a lunch break by Upper Grinnell Lake, which is directly fed by the Grinnell and Salamander Glaciers. We continued on, past where the clear trail ended, and made our way across of rocky debris. We were determined to get closer to the Grinnell Glacier and to touch it.

At the end of the rock field, we were stopped by a frozen stream that lead from Grinnell Lake and ended in a waterfall over the mountainside. Still determined to find a way to get to the glacier, we sat down for lunch and admired the icebergs floating in the lake. We filtered some of the FREEZING lake water (the coldest water we had used yet...even colder than Iceberg Lake) for the rest of our hike and then clamored on across the boulders and rock ledges, searching for a narrow point in the stream to crossover, but no luck. We came all that way and were thwarted by a darn creek!


When we were about to give up, we saw a young man jump and emerge on the other side of the creek. We yelled to him and he showed us how he got across - by leaping 4 feet across the icy river and landing on a narrow, slippery ledge. We weighed the risks: camera equipment going in the water or slamming into the rock, slipping and landing in water on a mountain-top (hypothermia, concussion, drowning, going over a waterfall, etc). After coming this far, Kari was determined to make it to the glacier. But Ben reasoned that her short legs could not make the jump without risk and we were forced, reluctantly, to abandon the quest.

We later found a shirt that said something along the lines of "Determination - What you feel before you do something really stupid". Yes. Just yes.

We retreated down the trail, back toward the boats and stopped off at a smaller glacier just off the trail to officially touch a glacier. Then we continued on, past many bighorn sheep on and near the trail, and went down to catch the "hiker's shuttle" (an unadvertised boat departure for the early AM hiking tour group) back across Lake Josephine and then across Swiftcurrent Lake back to Many Glacier Hotel.

Since we were winding down our time in Glacier, we finally began accumulating souvenirs and gifts at Many Glacier and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (mmm...Huckleberry Products...) and headed back to Apgar for one last dinner at Eddie's.

Click here for photos from Glacier National Park

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