I woke this morning near in the Many Glacier area and had my sights set on hiking the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail To Swiftcurrent Mountain. I had my usual quick breakfast (it is the most important meal of the day 🙂 ), and headed to the trailhead. Along the way I stopped for a couple of quick pictures of the Many Glacier Hotel (see previous post) and Swiftcurrent Lake…..
I found the Swiftcurrent Pass trailhead and settled in for 16+ mile hike/climb. However, after about 2 miles I realized that my only view (for 8 miles of climbing) was probably going to be thick clouds as that was all I could see above 7000′ or so and it was probably not going to clear based on the forecast. So, I called an “audible” and decided to do the Grinnell Glacier Trail instead so I could stay a little lower.
The beginning of the hike was actually mostly clear and I had some great views of the Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine and the Many Glacier Hotel…..
The trail climbed steadily and as I continued on I had some great views of the valley below with the Cataract Creek and Grinnell Lake (images) below and Mt. Gould (images) and the valley leading up to Mt. Siyeh (images) in the background….although the tops of both were covered by clouds….
As I continued to climb I passed several people and stopped briefly to chat with some of them. The sun was peaking in and out every now and then but it was definitely getting more “out” than “in” at this point so I continued on at a pretty good pace remembering the complete soaking that I got yesterday. But even at my quick pace I still stopped several times for pictures as the view just kept getting better and better with the addition of a beautiful water fall coming down from Upper Grinnell Lake and my first views of the upper part of the Grinnell Glacier.
After a bit more climbing I finally had my first view of Upper Grinnell Lake and the full view of the Grinnell Glacier….and it was breathtaking!
Although the glacier was still quite some distance away it “appeared” closer. I could see that it was possible to walk over to it, with some pretty good “rock hopping” over snow covered rocks. So of course I had to do it. 🙂
Shortly after I started around the lake I could see there were some folks over by the glacier….although they were tiny due to the distance. Here are a couple of pictures to add some scale. If you look on the left side of the first picture you can see some tiny little “specks”. The second picture is zoomed.
It took a while to make it to the glacier but it was well worth the effort. It was seriously beautiful. Of course I took quite a few pictures and really wanted to take a 360 but unfortunately I forgot to charge my 360 camera the night before so the one picture I got on the way up was the only one for the day. 🙁 But that certainly didn’t take away from the beauty of this area or of this moment….
Now, there are signs all over the park warning people to stay off of the glaciers due to potential crevasses hidden under the snow, and that’s one piece of advice I take seriously. But there were some fresh prints on the bottom edge of the glacier from the guys that were there just before me (in the pictures above) so I felt pretty comfortable walking a few feet in their footprints to get the obligatory “moron standing on a glacier” picture. 🙂
As I was on the far side of the lake it began snow/sleet and it was COLD! So knowing it was going to take around 2 hours to get back down I decided to start back. But during the walk back around the lake I just had to stop (a couple of times) to take everything in once more…and take a few more pictures. 🙂
And as I walked around the lake I also passed some very interesting (to me anyway) rock formations reminded me of a beach I visited in Tasmania, Australia last year. They were different but kind of the same. The picture on the left is from Glacier and the one on the right is from Tasmania last year….
By the time I got back to the trail the snow/sleet had picked up so I picked up the pace on the way back down. About a mile down the trail it was blowing snow so hard that the beautiful valley, creek and lake I had seen on the hike up where completely gone…and not from clouds but from blowing snow!
But in spite of the lost view from the snow this trail still had two more beautiful “gifts” to for me this day. The first came from a totally unexpected place….the rocks!
While I noticed the color in some of the rocks on the hike up I guess due to the sun going away or the moisture on the rocks the colors were so much more vivid now….I was totally blown away!
The second was in the form of wildlife. Two mountain goats were laying on the side of a steep mountain on the way down and a small herd of bighorn sheep were grazing in a meadow in valley below the trail. I tried to take pictures of both but without a zoom they didn’t turn out very well. You can make out the mountain goats in these pictures but the bighorn sheep just blended in to the background….which of course is good for them, just not good for pictures. 🙂
In the picture on the left there is one goat. In the one on the right there are two. Can you spot them?
So even though I had to change my plans for the day (hike a different trail) and it was cold and snowy (which beats cold and wet any day!!!), overall it was another great day hiking in Glacier National Park.
And until next time remember…..”Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford