After stuffing our faces with burgers, fries and milkshake, we drove to Many Glacier, took a shower, did some laundry but could not get a camp site so we slept in the car at the Iceberg/Ptarmigan tunnel trailhead. We kept a low profile to avoid the attention of the rangers who patrol the area at night. We snapped this beautiful picture of the Many Glacier area on the way.
The next morning we were up early to secure a camp spot and lucked out with a large site not far from the creek.
We stayed 5 nights in Many Glacier and took in some wonderful day hikes (some we had already done 6 years ago and revisited) such as the main 3 below and a few other small ones:
Iceberg Lake: and yes James did get in the water and on the iceberg just for the photo opp, must be the Swedish blood!
Many Glacier was great for wildlife too (we think we even got a grizzly -see bear picture from far):
Of course, a trip to Glacier is not complete without driving Going to the Sun Road, so we drove it on our way to the other side of the park and stopped to have lunch at Hidden Lake Overlook.
Before heading out to the other side of the park, we got up early (6am) two mornings in a row and managed to get permits for the Kintla/Boulder Pass backcountry trip (yes backcountry again, I think we are masochists!) for a 4-nighter.Once again, Miss Garmin (with all good intentions) took us on a 23-mile gravel washboard road, but we finally reached Polebridge right before the trailhead where we had to stop to take in the goodies (their pastries are killer!) at their Mercantile store.
After another 15 miles of rough gravel road we finally reached the Boulder Pass trailhead right by Kintla Lake by 4pm.Thankfully, our first day was easy, only 6.3 miles of rather flat trail. We spotted a black bear about a mile in, which set the tone for the night ahead.We camped with some nice folks who kayaked into the campground at Kintla head.
That first night, we had a rather sleepless night as a bear came crashing through the woods near our tent at night around 11:30pm, so we both got out of the tent, headlamps on, bear mace in hand, and started shouting to scare it away. This was one of the times (just like the moose ordeal) where we ask ourselves “Why are we doing this again? Isn’t this supposed to be fun?” We slept off and on after that. The next morning we were awakened by 2 squirrels fighting and one landing on our tent! So we got up, giving up on sleeping, and joined the group of campers for breakfast. Again, we had an easy second leg to Upper Kintla Lake campground (about 6 miles and mild elevation) where we took a refreshing dip and rested on the “beach” for a while.
But around 4pm, a storm moved in with high winds, rain, lightning and thunder so we hunkered down in the tent. We were also trying to rest some more as the day ahead was promising to be a really hard one: going over Boulder Pass, the highest pass in the park, 6 miles but with a grueling and relentless climb of more 3000 ft.
The storm finally let up around 7:30pm so we quickly made dinner. After dinner we were treated with a nice sunset and a serenading loon.
The next morning the weather looked threatening, so we quickly ate our breakfast and broke camp. Just as we put on our backpacks, it started to rain. It wasn’t terribly motivating to start hiking up the steep trail in the steady cool rain. About half way through the hike, it stopped raining and the skies started clearing, but all our rain gear was still needed as the trail was very wet & brushy. We were soaked! The later half of the hike had a nice surprise – lots of huckleberries! Poor bears didn’t stand a chance as we chowed down handfuls at a time.
We reached our campground at the pass earlier than anticipated and feeling good (we didn’t think the hike lived up to all the hype of being difficult…or we’re finally getting in shape). Despite being cold & wet, we decided to eat lunch right away (food always comes first!) and then set up our tent and dry our clothes. After changing clothes and warming up, we took a day hike around the area.
The next morning, we awoke to beautiful weather and headed out early to get in a day hike to “hole in the wall”, a cirque up and over the pass with some nice views.
We got back to our Boulder Pass camp around lunch time and ate a hefty meal before packing and heading back out. This time we went all out and bagged some huckleberries for our next morning’s oatmeal. It took us forever to get down that trail! We also took in the views we didn’t get on the rainy way up.
The next day’s leg was a long 12 miles back to Kintla trailhead. We stopped briefly for lunch and to take some pictures. Despite being Labor Day weekend, we managed to get a site at the Kintla drive-in campground for our last night in the park. It’s a special campground to us as it is not only remote, beautiful and quiet, but also where we first camped together. We could not resist stopping one more time on the way back to the Polebridge Mercantile, eat breakfast there and get some pastries to go.
It’s been a great 3 weeks in our favorite National Park, Glacier . It was so nice to be disconnected and being back to the basic needs of life. Like John Muir once said “Wilderness is a necessity”. It reminds us of where we come from and puts us at peace again.We are now on our way back to Portland where we will spend a quick & busy week taking care of many items and re-packing for the flying portion of our trip. We look forward to blogging about Europe in a few weeks.