Day 3, July 23 Many Glacier Day - Part 1
I was delighted to wake up and see the sun was a shinin' with only some cumulus clouds poking thru the crisp blue Glacier Park sky . I went over and had breakfast at King Gilbert, we made our sandwiches, and then headed for Many Glacier in the hopes of hiking the Grinnell Glacier trail (even though the last mile was still closed due to snow plus a hiker slid 50-100 feet to his death down a steep snow field when he went past that area). I hadn't done that hike since 2003 and thot it would be a nice alternative to the still ice and snow-covered Iceberg Lake hike. I had originally planned the Ptarmigan Tunnel but the Tunnel was not open yet due to all of the extra snow this year.
Here is some video
of part of the wonderful drive into Many Glacier. It includes some stills of King Gilbert's neighbors (Columbian Ground Squirrels): http://youtu.be/xYwHESx_zyU
I drove Gary and Wendy to the Lodge entrance so that they could run in and get us a place on the boat that you take to get to the other side of Josephine Lake for the Grinnell Glacier hike. Parking is on a bluff overlooking the Lodge and Swiftcurrent Lake; it makes for a beautiful and photogenic trek back down to the hotel and as usual the wind was blowing pretty good up there.
I went down to the Lodge and was looking for Wendy and Gary only to find out from them that the boat was full and Grinnell Glacier Trail was still closed . So now we had to come up with a Plan C . Wendy had been discussing with the ranger some options with Red Rock Falls being one of them, and a trail I had never done and wanted to do so we decided to do that. It's not a long hike so I thot we could throw in the 2 hr horseback ride toward Cracker Lake once we returned. We hiked, I mean walked up the stairs to the stables to verify the time of the last horseback ride and made our reservation (so if we were running a little late, they knew we were coming... I also inquired if Joe, Rockerfeller or Comanche were still around and the only horse here this time was Rockerfeller).
We drove over to Swiftcurrent Inn which is around to the NW side of Swiftcurrent Lake and were able to find a parking spot in a pretty crowded lot. As we are walking over to the TH, Wendy is listening to a ranger who was helping people look thru the telescope to see some goats up on the mountain. Well lo and behold I recognized Ranger Rick who was our ranger from my Grinnell Glacier hike in 2003 http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=69369. It seems he was now stuck with the less vigorous trails since he has tendinitis in his foot and some other injury. I so remember in 2003 commenting how he hiked like a goat with such agility and lightness of foot.
The great thing about the million acre Glacier Park is its smallness as you constantly run into folks you've met years before or people you've just met. It's such a wonderful bonding experience.
So off we went, heading west to Red Rock Lake Falls in and out of the forest with views of Mt Wilbur with the number 4 written in snow on it and Mt Grinnell in the distance. We got to cross a nice bridge, then a double log bridge. It's always so much fun around water. And then we encountered our first good little stand of beargrass. As we continued farther, we looked up high to the northwest and could see a waterfall seemingly coming out of nowhere
Trying to get a better pic of it, we found this little trail that we thot might lead us to a better view point; which it did and then the trail turned into nothing so we took our photos and decided to hightail it back to the trail so as not to tempt any bears
lingering in the area. The Swiftcurrent Valley is PRIME bear country
and this year even more so cuz they had to come down low to eat due to lingering snow cover. (Come to find out, this little trail leads you toward an off-trail hike called the ShangriLa that takes you right by the waterfall and over to Iceberg Lake. Vaporman
, it's calling your name.)
And soon, the lake was exposing itself to us. There is an opening so that you can walk right down to the shore and get a good view of the Falls across the Lake. Wendy decided she would head behind some trees along the shoreline to do her business but encountered a rather large problem and it had four legs and a small rack
. She comes back to us and says "MOOSE" so Gary and I work our way past a couple small trees and there he is with his beautiful long legs, mooseying
along the shore looking around until he sees us. And of course, I am filming and shooting pics thinking any minute he's going to dash off but he keeps walking toward us
. I think his curiosity was kicking in or something. We cleared back so that he could have the right of way.
Wendy decides to cross the trail behind us and head up the hill into some fir trees to complete her business. All of a sudden I look down the trail and here comes that darn moose. He starts walking on the trail and then up the hill in Wendy's direction so I yell to Wendy, "moose is coming your way" and she pops up to see a crowd laughing hysterically at this momentary event. OMG it was
. I can still see the expression on her face and I think I have captured it in a picture.
Once we recovered from the frivolity, we continued on the trail and up to the Falls area. The Falls were crowded so we only hung around here a short time before continuing up above the Falls looking for a place to have our lunch. I do have to mention though that we encountered a couple who were dressed to the nines
in their mountain climbing/major hiking gear including high boots and yellow rain jackets and hats. And of course, while we were commenting about the wife's attire, the husband pops up behind us (he was taking photos) and says that's his wife
. Fortunately our tone was light even though we thot their attire was a bit of an overkill for a 4.5 mile hike on a clear day on a clear trail with mostly level ground.
from the first part of our hike: http://youtu.be/L0x-Luw5vvA
(includes the moose encounter)
Anyway, we walked up to the top of the Falls area. It was particularly windy up here but the views were incredible
. We got a good look at Swiftcurrent Glacier, not realizing that in 2 days, we would be almost right next to it. (We were continually told by the Rangers
that the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail was closed at the start of the switchbacks) There were all sorts of waterfalls coming down from it as well. We pondered where the Pass might be
while admiring the turquoise water that was swirling below us against the red rock and down into the Falls.
We eventually found a place to have lunch that was sheltered from the wind, away from the small crowd and still had great views. There we got to enjoy another huckleberry
soda and sandwiches. Life is indeed good!
Next we decided to follow a suggestion from a fellow hiker to go below the Falls (no crowd now) and toward the lake on a supposed trail that would take us to the main trail. Well not exactly. We ended up on a bit of a peninsula. However, we were able to get some better photos toward the Falls and of Red Rock Lake. Wendy now calls it Angela's Point
. I like it.
The trip back was uneventful as to wildlife, even with our visit down to Fishercap Lake which is notorious for moose sightings. In 2008 (I'll have to do a hike desc and post that trip) I got some great photos of a moose feeding in the Lake. We didn't spend much time here as we wanted to get back for our horseback ride.
from the Falls and our hike back: http://youtu.be/ZVvrzu1Pwdo
All in all, I think this is another one of those great short hikes where you get a lot of bang for your buck. So did we get back in time for our horseback ride? See Part 2 of Many Glacier Day under Grinnell Lake hike to find out.