We decided to make Glacier National Park our home base until we get back to Portland early September. Unfortunately, phone and internet access are practically inexistent in the park (unless you are staying at one of the pricey lodges) so we could not post for a while.
We headed to Glacier through Cody, Wyoming, a cute cowboy town where we poked around shops and hung out at one of the internet cafes. We camped one night at Buffalo Bill State Park, which despite being right next to the highway, had incredible views.
As a side note, we’ll need to update our GPS as Miss Garmin (as we like to call her) took us on a 18-mile gravel road just outside of Molt, Montana (look that one up on a map). It was her shortcut to Great Falls, Montana where we were headed for a one night hotel stop. We popped out into a “town”called Broadview, downtown picture below 🙂
On our way to Great Falls, we got hit by a storm and quarter-size hail that we thought would break the windshield. Everybody on the road pulled over waiting for the storm to pass. We arrived early afternoon in Glacier NP the next day to find the campgrounds full in the Two Medicine area. We decided to “squat” camp on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation next to the Cut Bank River for that first night. It was a beautiful area but unfortunately had garbage everywhere (cans, beer bottles, socks, shoes etc), so we bagged two garbage bags full of trash and figured that would pay for our camp fees. The next morning, there was a large female moose in the river (we didn’t get time to snap her picture) which made us feel good about having picked up all the garbage.
That morning, we made our way to the Two Medicine campground, got a camp site and did some day hikes over the next two days.
But we were itching for some more adventure and remoteness. Car camping is not our favorite thing! So after 2 days at Two Medicine, we got up at 6:30am and went to the backcountry office to get permits for a 5-night trip to the Belly River area of the park. We snapped up some really good spots (Gable Creek, Glenns Lake Foot, Mokowanis Lake, Stoney Indian Lake, Gable Creek on the way out) for our 50 mile hike. This time, after our horse backcountry debacle, we decided we would not starve and packed what we thought was a lot of food.
We started out at the Chief Mountain trailhead passing nice mountain views and waterfalls. Thank god it was mostly downhill to start with as our packs were really heavy (food, food, and more food!). We packed ourselves a few luxury items such as orange juice, coffee creamer, apples, cherries, and blueberries no name a few. True backpacker’s food!! 🙂
Our first night was somewhat of an anniversary as we got the same campsite as we had 6 years ago when we got introduced to backcountry camping when the campground in Many Glacier was full. The second night of this trip was somewhat of a highlight. That night’s reservation was for Glenn’s lake foot and we arrived late afternoon after day-hiking to beautiful Elizabeth Lake. After setting-up our tent, we started chatting with some other campers. They mentioned that earlier in the day they had been watching a bull moose feeding in the distance in the lake. How neat, we thought. Later that evening, as we sat by the lake’s shore with our fellow campers, we started making out a shape of 2 bull moose from across the lake making their way towards us. It was almost night time and we could barely see them, so we decided to retreat back towards the campsites. We all turned our headlamps on to try to see where the moose were going but boy did that irritate the large bull!! He charged towards everyone in the campsite and we all scattered….and turned off our headlamps. We jumped in our tent, hugging our bear mace, praying we would not get trampled. Over the next few hours, we laid in our tent (and we assumed so did the other campers), fully clothed and terrified as we listened to the 2 moose snort and stomp around the campground! We must have finally fallen asleep around 3 or 4 am! We wanted the backcountry experience and we got it! We learned the next morning that 2 of the campers could not go back to their tent for quite some time as one of the moose stood right in the middle of their campsite. They were eventually able to sneak back in their tent. It was a sleepless night for all of us!!
Over the next few days, we traversed incredible scenery and jaw-dropping mountains and glacier fed turquoise lakes. We took a dip in some of them (and some rivers/creeks too) to “shower”from the day’s hike and sunny hot weather.
We met quite a few backpackers from all over the US on our Belly River trail, hung out with them and shared camp, dinners and great stories. It’s been so fun!
Below is some of the wildlife we’ve seen on the trail (aside from the moose), still no grizzlies!
By day 6, James had a pinched nerve that rendered his left quad numb and Sylvie’s little toe had tripled in size due a huge blister. We were tired, hungry (yes despite that we ate every crumb we packed), and ready for a hot long shower. We learned from one of the backcountry rangers that there was a diner in a little town nearby, Baab, called the Edge of Glacier that served killer burgers. We hurried our last 6 miles out dreaming of the food ahead and quickly found the diner. It was everything we dreamt of. James had a huge bacon cheeseburger with fries and Sylvie the enormous mushroom swiss burger (with fries also). To top it all of, we had a giant huckleberry milkshake -the best we’ve ever had!