Hiking to Grinnell Glacier, almost

We had originally hoped to spend Friday, June 19, driving across Glacier National Park via the Going-to-the-Sun road, possibly stopping somewhere midway for a hike. But just after we’d arrived in St. Mary on Thursday night, we discovered that about 5 miles of the 53 mile long road were impassable due to heavy snowfall and an avalanche earlier in the winter.

That changed our mental plans somewhat, so we decided instead to enter the park on Friday morning at Many Glacier and take one of the trails departing from around Swiftcurrent Lake. The ranger at the entrance station suggested that the Grinnell Glacier trail offered the biggest “bang for the buck” in terms of its sweeping views of the surrounding valley. She also warned us about grizzly bears—everything warned us about bears: signs, brochures, other hikers—which seriously freaked us out. But we never saw hide nor hair of a bear (besides the two black bears we spotted along the road in Yellowstone). It didn’t stop us from making all sorts of noise as we passed through heavily wooded areas.

Even though it was pretty overcast in the morning on most days, the clouds would usually break sometime in the afternoon, offering a window for taking spectacular photos. Not this time. We hiked in the drizzling rain about three and a half miles up the trail, until it too was blocked off, due to an “unstable snow bridge”. So we didn’t make it all the way to the Grinnell Glacier. One gets the sense that Glacier National Park obeys its own seasons. Still it was an amazing hike, one I’d be happy to do again in better weather.

Lake Sherburne, near the Many Glacier Entrance
Lake Sherburne in Glacier National Park

The trail along Lake Josephine
Lake Josephine in Glacier National Park

Heading up the Grinnell Glacier Trail
Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park

Turquoise Grinnell Glacier Lake
Grinnell Glacier Lake in Glacier National Park

· Outdoors