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The Highline Trail - Garden Wall
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mini location map2021-08-10
45 by photographer avatartibber
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The Highline Trail - Garden WallWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Aug 10 2021
Hiking7.88 Miles 1,416 AEG
Hiking7.88 Miles   5 Hrs   6 Mns   1.74 mph
1,416 ft AEG      35 Mns Break
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Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Finally we get to go to one of our original plans for our ten day Glacier Park foray. We stayed at a Rising Sun cottage, our fourth different place in four nights. We had left Tina's car up at Logan Pass so this AM we parked Tonto 3 safely in the lot at the Rising Sun store and went to wait for the shuttle. The shuttle was packed and you take it as far as Sun Point to get on a bigger shuttle that was also packed; we were just glad we didn't have to wait.
Fortunately it was a nice day as we took out on the Highline Trail for our two nite stay at the Granite Park Chalet, my third time there (2011, 2018 (both times with Wendy and this year).

We were lucky the trail was open :) as they had closed it the day before for a rock slide; the trail crew cleared it that day. We encountered one hiker coming back that was holding on to the makeshift rail and using his hand to hide his eyes from the steep drop off. The trail really is plenty wide but if you're afraid of heights... Anyway, I got him on video as I was filming at the time and he was, at least, smiling.

It had rained recently so there was plenty of flowing water thus the trail could get slippery in places. There was still plenty of flora to keep your attention but not as much as I've seen the previous three times I've hiked the trail. The sky was hazing up again due to the lingering fire activity both in California, Oregon and Montana (and one fire on the west side of the Park).

There was continuous human traffic which took awhile to get used to; I'm sure they felt the same about us. Of course we had our bigger packs on so people would inquire if we were backpacking or going to the Chalet. Needless to say, many folks were quite jealous, as I would be of them if they were staying there too. A lot of folks would ask how we got get reservations and other questions. We would always try to answer them. FYI: when reservations open mid-January you go online and hope for the best. We have learned that signing up for two nites increases your chances of getting a reservation and/or signing up for a workshop. We signed up for the Ahern Pass Geology workshop. In fact, this year, we also got our Sperry Chalet reservation but we couldn't do both.

The sky was overcast for our whole hike which was wonderful as in 2018 Wendy and I baked our way to the Chalet as it was pretty toasty. I snapped some pics of the conga line going up the very long Haystack Butte switchback. We had also heard there was a grizzly and sows just below the switchback so the line had stopped for a bit. At Haystack Butte which is almost 1/2 way, we stopped to have a snack. We saw three people climbing up the side of the Garden Wall; had no idea where they were going.

And now we have a little more climbing and a few more down and ups before you get to the great visual of almost all of McDonald Lake. We saw a grouse close to the trail and I got a chance to get some good pictures. There were a couple of them here. There were very large patches of Fireweed from time to time that really stood out in the muted light.

There's this one last corner you get around and you can now see Swiftcurrent Mountain in the distance with the Lookout on top. And just a little further, you get your first glimpse of the Chalet which is one of those looks so close but is far away yet. However, the trail is pretty much easy peasy from here. And as we started heading north, we saw some Big Horns and Mountain Sheep up on the side of the Garden Wall. I think someone pointed them out to us which was also the case for much of the wildlife we would see. We would also share this same knowledge with others. I did have to do some major zooming but got some decent photos.

As we walked through a particularly beautiful and colorful rocky section, a Golden-Mantled Squirrel (looks like a chipmunk) wanted to be a youtube star :D so I obliged as it scampered on top of some flat rocks right next to the trail. And as I said previously, with the overcast day, the colors of the Glacier Park rocks stood out even more. We spotted another Big Horn on the side of the wall and later saw a deer in between the trees on the downside. The trail to/from the Grinnell Overlook was its usual conveyor belt of people. I still haven't done that and would really like to. Sadly, a hiker fell to her death from the overlook a few weeks later :( .

We did encounter what I thot were hutterites and talked with them for a moment. They were actually from Indiana and were Amish; I should have known by the straw hats -- the rest of their garb was hutterite-like. One of the girls was struggling as they had come up the 2600 foot 4 mile Loop Trail so I suspect they didn't go much further. We would see more of them at the Chalet; one with a baby.

The Chalet had lots of visitors that were using the restrooms. You could buy water and food at the Chalet but couldn't stay inside if you weren't a guest. We got our room number 16 in the Annex; I had stayed in Room 15 in 2011. You have to listen to their spiel and they handed us off between hosts. We made up our beds and then put in for our kitchen time. Before we went to get water, I asked other guests if anyone needed water as I figured as long as I was carrying one jug, I could carry another. There were these older folks that took me up on the offer.

We made the trek down to get some water about 1/4 mile away and filled the jugs and water bladders. The water would not need to be filtered which was nice. I wanted to make sure we got enough water so as not to have to make the trek again. It was very windy when we were outside as would be the case for a lot of our time here in Glacier Park... well for my Montana trip in general.

At 7:30 they have a coffee hour where they provide the water and a speaker, which in this case would be our guide for tomorrow's workshop. He comes up for a week or so and does geology workshops for the Chalet guests. You also meet the hosts. Afterward I just walked around trying to get sunset pictures and luckily I wasn't disappointed :y: . We didn't stay at the main Chalet too much longer after that except to get more blankets as it would be a chilly nite and there is no electricity thus no heat.

Three videos:
Part 1 [ youtube video ]
Part 2 [ youtube video ]
Part 3 [ youtube video ]

WATCH: 7.46 miles in 5 hours 7589 feet with 114 avg bpm, 148 max (48% at zone 3, 26% at zone 2) burning 1592 calories. Beginning temp 65.8, mostly cloudy with 49% humidity finishing at 2:38PM.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.

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