We left Mr.Grumpy-Broken-Toe-Boy sitting sullenly at the Many Glacier Lodge and Angela and I set off for another adventure. We had just enough time to squeeze in two (round trip) boat rides and a couple of quick hikes in between. All together, they made up one fun trip out to Grinnell Lake - one of the most beautiful spots I saw in Glacier National Park.
Started out with the boat across Swiftcurrent Lake. The ride is fairly short, so they tend to swing pretty wide with the one turn in order to give you your money's worth. Before you could really settle in to your seat, though, we were at the far side dock. From there, you hike up and over a small hill to Lake Josephine, which is the next body of water on the same stream (Swiftcurrent Creek). Because everyone from the first boatride is also on the second, it's a bit crowded on this little stretch, but I didn't mind since there were rumors of a Grizzly sow and her babies nearby on the shore. Don't want that sort of trouble!
The second boat ride is a little longer, with an interesting tale of how in the 1980's, the boat was damaged by an avalanche and had to be switched out with the boat from the Swiftcurrent Lake. Sounds like it was quite the operation since the creek isn't really navigable.
From the far boat dock at Josephine, we hiked along an easy and relatively flat trail to Grinnell Lake. I think under normal circumstances this might have been something of a dull hike compared to the amazing scenic ones we'd done so far - it stays in the woods most of the time, and views out are limited. (Okay, so there was the one fun suspension bridge). However the creek had flooded that year, hopping its banks and setting a whole new alignment (or in this case, several new alignments) through the woods. It made for interesting walking, both for the engineering of the trail (or 'quick, let's get something built fast so people don't sink in the muck) and the natural aspects of it (or 'um, why is there water flowing between the trees?').
Grinnell Lake itself is a gem. It's crystal blue color was almost impossible to photograph in the late afternoon light - but it was easy to see, and that was enough for me. The lake is surrounded on three sides by very steep valley walls, and these walls are punctuated at many points by brilliant white waterfalls. The white is caused by the 'glacial flour', a fine sediment released by the glaciers as they melt, and it also causes the brilliant color of the lakes. The closer to the glacier, the bluer they get!
We spent a little time by the lake, but we had to hustle back if we were going to make the last boat back to Swiftcurrent. As we were hiking back, we were playing trail-hop-scotch with another fun couple, making lots of jokes and having a great time. We reached the boatdock with time to spare, but the crowd ahead of us was pretty large. We realized we weren't going to make it on one boat, and that they'd have to do 2 trips to get us all back. With the first group on their way we were looking at almost a half an hour wait, which considering where we were wasn't too bad. Our couple friends, however, decided not to wait and started walking the easy 2 miles back to the lodge on the trail. Little did they know they'd miss such a fun ride back!
The final boat of the day didn't have very many passengers, so it was a perfect ride. The lake was now nearly glass-smooth, and we had a great time chatting it up with the boat folks as we went (we even got to plug HAZ with a couple of them who were coming to AZ soon). The final leg across Swiftcurrent was a special treat, though. We were a little more than half-way across the lake when someone spotted what appeared to be a bird in the lake. Closer inspection showed that it was actually a moose swimming her way across! Well, how much fun is that!
Not only was this (not so) little lady swimming near our boat's route, but she was headed straight for the lodge itself - as though she had a date for cocktails that she just couldn't miss. While our boat captain steered a good safe path around her, we watched her amazingly fast swim from a fantastic vantage point. Meanwhile, out on the shore, nearly every inhabitant of the Many Glacier Lodge came out to watch the celebrity moose. She seemed a little unsettled by all of the attention, and her course veered off to the woods just beside the lodge. She shook herself off good, then ambled into the forest out of site, presumably to keep that hot date.
We docked and amid many expressions of jealousy for our superior view of the incident found Mr. Grumpy Pants (who was only mildly irritated at our delay) as well as the couple we'd parted ways with at the boat dock. Seems that they arrived at almost exactly the same time as we had, only they almost completely missed the moose. Ha. Just goes to prove: Patience is a virtue!
We celebrated with beers in the lounge and later with massive, delicious steaks at the Cattle Baron Supper Club (I tell you, those Montana folks know how to cook a cow). Overall, a very successful long day in the north country!