I had a fabulous two weeks at Glacier National park and returned home feeling fulfilled. This trip involved lot of planning for over six months and I'm thrilled to report that I survived the entire trip without any issues. My Trip started on July 6th and I flew United from Laguardia to Kalispell via Denver. Upon reaching Kalispell took the Flathead transportation taxi to Glacier Guides Lodge. It was fun conversing with Jay the cab driver and learning about the stories about Hungry horse dam on the way to the lodge. The drive to West Glacier was scenic and I was getting excited by the minute wondering what was ahead. I spent the noon wandering around West Glacier entrance. Next morning after a heavy breakfast I was picked up to Glacier Guides officewhere I was joining a group of five more awesome hikers along with super guide JD. We had a six day backpacking adventure in store for us.
Day 1: Belly River Campsite (6 miles)
We quickly packed our bags and were driven off to Belly River Trail head just before US/Canada customs checkpoint. Ate lunch and started hiking down the belly river trail. Goal was to hike about 6 miles to get to Belly River ranger station campsite. It had been over a year since I backpacked so my shoulders were not happy for first few miles.But the Foggy mountain and lake views and stunning meadows kept us alive and we made it to the campsite. It was nice lesson on backcounty leave no trace ethics and ensure we carry no food near our tents.
Day 2: Bear mountain, Lake Cosley (7 miles)
We were planning on staying at this site only for one night. But one of the hikers in the group a 70 year old retired war vetern was hurting his hips. He was not in a position to continue so we had to extend our stay for second night so he could safely get out of the park by joining another group who were finishing up.So second day we basecamped at Belly river campsite and did a day hike to climb up the bear mountain. We crossed a stunning bridge and saw a black bear sitting on the trailand munching something about 50 ft from us. We made lot of noise but he was unperturbed. It took him about 15 minutes for him to get bored and dissappear into the forest.We moved on to hike the bear mountain. Views of Lake Cosley were absolutely breath taking. Just when we were about to reach the top of the mountain it started raining.I was amazed how quickly weather turned from bright/sunny to cloudy/thunderstorms in matter of minutes. Glad we carried rain jackets in our day pack.
Day 3: Lake Glenns ( 9 miles)
After waving good bye to our vetern friend we packed our backpack and started hiking towards Lake Glen. The hike to Lake Glen was through a thick bushy forest.It was bit scary and this bushy sections runs for several miles. There are two campsites near lake Glen. We did our lunch at the first campsite and then hiked 3-4 milesfurther southwest into second campsite. Lake Glen campsite was the best campsite we stayed during this six day journey. Campsite is right infront of stunning blue lake and distant views of snow filled Gable mountain and Redgap pass made it special.This site had it all. Clean and new pit toilets, fire pit to start campfire and awesome water to dip/swim. We had couple of deers who were relentless to chew our sweaty clothes that we put on our tents.After setting up the tent we did another short hike to Mokowanis lake. I spent lot of time taking pictures of the lake Glen, Gable mountain and the deers.
Day 4: Lake Elizabeth (8 miles)
Woke up early to take some nice reflection shots of Gable mountain on Lake Glen. That was spectacular view. Plan for the day was to get to the Lake Elizabeth campsite.This meant hiking back in the north east direction on the same thick bushy trail to Lake Cosley and then crossing water to descend south towards Elizabeth lake. Hike was full of breath taking views of Lake Glenns, Cosley and Gable mountain. Elizabeth lake was beautiful but personally I felt Lake Glenns campsite was spectacular.
Day 5: Redgap pass, Poia lake (10.5 miles)
This was the hardest hike of the whole trip. We were to first climb up the Red Gap pass and then hike further east to get to lake Poia campsite.It was raining for over an hour at Lake Elizabeth campsite so we had to wait out before starting this hike. Hiking up Redgap pass was quite a challenge while carrying the backpack. But the views just nailed us. Beauty of this place still amazes me.Bear Grass, Indian paint brush and Glacier lillies were in bloom everywhere. We were lucky to spot a family of mountain goats and big horn sheeps along the trail.Ate lunch upon reaching Red gap pass. It was so windy we had hard time holding onto our food. As we were approaching Lake Poia (about 1/2 mile from campsite), we saw a huge Grizzly who apparently was watching us hike from about 100 ft.He looked straight at us for a minute or so and then quickly dissppeared.
Day 6: Apikuni falls trailhead , Many Glacier road(6 miles)
Our spirits were high on the final day of the backpacking trip and we had a short 6 mile hike to get to Apikuni falls trail head on Many Glacier Road just across Lake Sherburne.On the way we hiked up some nearby peaks to catch the spectacular views of Lake Sherburne and many glacier area. caught up with distant views of Swiftcurrent lake as well.We quickly made it to Many Glacier road by noon and a fabulous Glacier guides lunch was awaiting us at the van. After lunch, we were driven off Many glacier road and then entered Going to the sun road from St.Mary entrance all the way to West Glacier.I was tired and sleepy but when the vehicle crossed the logan pass, Garden wall area my jaws dropped at the views and I was wide awake for the rest of the ride.I bet anyone who sees Logan pass area for the first time is going to experience this feeling.I was dropped back at the Glacier Guides lodge for the night. Rest of the group were staying there as well. Cleaning up and shower was in order after six days in wilderness.We had dinner & drinks at Glacier Grill Pizzeria. Nice restaurant and friendly staff.
Day 7 & 8: Rafting Flathead river
These two days were spent rafting on the middle fork of Flathead river. Glacier guides did a fantastic job with providing the guide who took food preparation to whole new level.The whole rafting trip was more like a bbq/pool party. Loved all those stunning rocks at the bottom of serene Flat head river. Second day we did raft through quite a few rapids and it was awesome.Yay.. I survived my first rafting experience without getting dumped in the icecold water.At the end of rafting trip I returned to Kalispell airport. My new friend from rafting trip was kind enough to give me a ride. I picked up my rental car and drove back to West Glacier.I had a reservation at the Lake Mcdonald's lodge.I could only get reservation for a hostel room at Snyder hall. It was very clean and well kept. Ate my dinner at Joe's Pizzeria across the lodgeand reserved my pack lunch at the lodge for the next day.
Day 9: Avalanche hike , Hidden lake overlook (7 miles)
Breakfast at Lake Mcdonald's was nice, picked up my lunch and drove off to Avalanche creek for the day hike.It was a short hike probably 4-5 miles. But I felt the views were just about ok and not that spectacular compared to Logan pass/ Many glacier area.Had I known, I would have skipped this hike for sure. Didnt waste much time after the hike.Returned to the lodge, ate my lunch and took the hiker shuttle to Logan pass.I did the hike to Hidden Lake overlook. It was stunning hike with lots of mountain goats along with walking on snow. It was all worth it as the hidden lake was spectacular.Would have loved to go all the way to the lake but it was closed due to bear activity.
Day 10: Highline hike to Haystack (9 miles)
I checked out of Lake Mcdonald's lodge and drove to Glacier Guides lodge.Met up with few friends and our guide JD drove us to Logan pass for the Highline trail hike.I'm glad I didnt drive to Logan pass as parking lot was full by 8:30 am. We were a big group of 18 people hiking highline trail to haystack. Loved the Garden wall all along.Being a long distance runner, I was envious when I saw few runners holding bear spray and running on the highline trail. I would love to do this hike all the way to Granite park chalet one day.Views are just out of this world. I returned back to Glacier guides lodge and my reservation for the night was at St.Mary lodge. For the first time I drove all the way from West Glacier to East on GTTSR and it was a mind blowing experience.Stopped at will and took pictures. Checked into St.Mary lodge. Probably the worst lodge in the whole park. I was given a dumpster room in the basement. I didnt want to spend anytime in the room.I drove to Park Cafe to eat dinner and came back only to sleep. Park Cafe is awesome place. Loved their menu selections.
Day 11: Piegan pass (9 miles)
I woke up early, ate breakfast at St.Mary lodge restarant. Picked up my lunch box and drove to Siyeh Bend. I wanted to hike Piegan pass or Siyeh pass.I did not want to venutre out myself so waited at the trailhead to see if I can find company. A family from Connecticut were in the same predicament and we hiked together.This was one of strenous hikes. Walking on steep snow was very scary towards the top of piegan pass. But the hike was totally worth it. Returned back to St.Mary lodge.Rested for a bit and drove to Many Glacier hotel to confirm the boat/hike ticket for grinnel Glacier planned for next day. Had a great time dining at Many Glacier lodge restaurant.Loved all those pictures of glaciers inside the hotel.
Day 12: Grinnel Glacier (10 miles)
I was thrilled to hear Grinnel glacier trail was open all the way and I was going to hike the trail on the first day of season.I drove early to Many Glacier hotel and waited for the boat ride before starting the Grinnel Glacier hike. Paying $24 for that boatride is one of the things I will regret.Its waste of money and had I known earlier, I would have hiked all the way. Found few more solo hikers looking for company. Ranger's group was awfully slow for our pace.We hiked ourselves. Thoroughly enjoyed the Grinnel glacier hike. I felt this was the best hike of the whole trip. At a certain point, you get to see all the three lakes(Swift current, Josaphine and Grinnel).What a view... Hike had it all. Marvellous views, hiking on snow , getting drenched by water fall and the real treat is the Grinnel Glacier. What a place to hangout.Sat there for several hours marvelling the beauty of the place. Took lot of jumping pictures and thankfully didnt end up at bottom of lake.I did not bother to take the boat during return trip. Just hiked all the way with the group of solo hikers.
Day 13: Iceberg lake (9 miles)
My final hike of the trip was the Iceberg lake. Checked out of dreadful St.Mary lodge and ate breakfast at Many Glacier lodge. Drove to Swiftcurrent motor inn and was joined by bunch of solo hikersto hike the Iceberg lake. Hike was not as scenic as Grinnel Glacier but the Iceberg lake was spectacular. Saw some brave souls swimming in the lake.I tried to take a dip but couldn't last long.. LOL. Fully satisfied with the trip I returned back to Swift current motor inn. Ate Huckleberry icecream and drove out of the park.Just when I was about to leave the Many Glacier road, I saw a huge black bear sitting very close to the road. Took pictures and this time I drove all the way on GTTSR from east to west glacier.I finally made it to Kalispell where I was spending the night at a motel near airport.
Day 14(Fly back home)
My glorious trip had come to an end. It felt weird experiencing hot water and toilet seat covers at Denver airport restrooms.. Whats with all that ? LOL. Im going to miss the disgusting pitt toilets and going naturale.. :) . I can't wait to return to this paradise soon.