Libby and I, with our friends Joe and Jane, left Sunday for Glacier National Park. Six hours later we arrived at the Lake McDonald Lodge on the western edge of the lush park. The lodge is about 80 years old and built right on the lake. We enjoyed a great dinner of trout and such, and then had some drinks out by the lake. The weather was perfect - sunny and about 70.
After waking up on Monday, we first had to stock up on supplies and find a campsite. Most camps in the park are unreservable and fill up every night. It worked out well with us already being in the park, and able to find the perfect campsite early in the morning - the site popped up at the back of a loop at Avalanche Creek, surrounded by thick dark forest on three sides.
The remainder of the day we grabbed a shuttle to Logan Pass (the summit of the twisty, sole road intersecting the park), and hiked on the adjacent Hidden Lake and Highline trails. Hidden Lake was short and very busy, but ended in a fantastic overlook above the blue lake and steep thousand-foot cliffs and snowfields. Several times, we came within 20 feet of fuzzy mountain goats, grazing away as if we ambling humans were all part of their herd.
Highline is a long trail, so we simply went out and back for a quick three miles. It meanders along, only four feet wide, with a steep cliff above and below. We came along another goat on this trail, walking with her baby. At one point the mother was feeling a little confined by multiple groups of people, and she ran up through the brush and then popped out ten feet away, before scrambling away directly past us. The baby soon followed, after we squished over to the side and made ourselves as small and unthreatening as possible.
Tuesday, we drove over two hours to the far southeast side of the park, near Two Medicine. Scenic Point was the toughest hike on our agenda, seven miles and 2400 feet - okay, so we aren't super aggressive hikers. The day was sunny and very windy, but the wind did not really take away from the hike, it just added to it. Several times we had to hunker down and hold on as the gusts pummeled us on the steep rock.
This was the best hike I have ever completed - beautiful vistas, steep drop-offs, everything I like in a hike. No goats here, but vast mountain valleys, giant peaks to the west, and rolling prairie to the east.
Both nights camping we had perfect weather - dry and mild. On Wednesday I woke up to a spurt of raindrops, but then it remained dry while we ate breakfast and broke camp. Several hours later it started coming down, and remained wet for our last 24 hours in the park.
Fortunately, we had plans to stay the night at Many Glacier Lodge, on the northeast side of the park. Continued sun would have been pleasant, but the historic, shadowy lodge was the perfect place to spend a blustery summer evening. We also got out for a damp hike in a long, green valley adjacent to the lodge, heading up towards Iceberg Lake. Supposedly, many bear frequent this trail, but we were not lucky enough to be confronted. For our last night in Glacier we enjoyed another tasty dinner and drinks in the lodge, and then caught up on sleep while the wind howled around the eaves outside our top-floor room.