As much as Jason and I loved Whitefish, and we really did, we were thrilled about heading into Glacier National Park, our main focus for this trip.
The hike to Avalanche Lake had some beautiful surprises.
Avalanche Lake was as smooth as a looking glass.
We spent our first afternoon in the park climbing nearly 5 miles to Avalanche Lake, a subalpine pool fed by a number of dramatic waterfalls. It was our first taste of Glacier and we were not disappointed by the serenity of Avalanche’s reflective waters.
We came upon this grizzly bear eating berries as we were driving to the trailhead for Grinnell Glacier. Jason thought it was a big dog at first.
Lower Grinnell Lake remained visible in the valley below us for most of our hike. Now that’s some tasty eye-candy.
That chunk of ice behind me is Salamander Glacier. Jason encouraged me to behave accordingly.
The next morning, we woke up early and drove more than 2 hours along Going-to-the-Sun Road, a slender two-lane highway that cuts across sharp slopes and over the Continental Divide, to arrive at the trailhead for Grinnell Glacier. Grinnell Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the park but reaching it still requires over 10 miles of hiking, even if you, like us, cut out 2.5 miles of the journey with a scenic boat ride around Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. Yet, this trek is well worth its 1,600-foot elevation gain. It passes through meadows bursting with vibrant wildflowers and over weathered cliffs adorned with lacey falls. Lower Grinnell Lake, with its striking turquoise hue, remains nestled below you as you ascend, demanding your attention like a glittering jewel on the neck of a captivating woman.
As if there wasn’t enough cold liquid at Grinnell to begin with, the sky dropped a whole lot more of it on us.
The perplexing turquoise color of this lake is caused by glacial flour: tiny bits of fine-grained minerals ground up by the glacier and suspended in its melt off.
Upper Grinnell Lake looks bizarre with its milky waters and floating ice.
Your mouth may never close as you make your way to Grinnell, thanks to nature’s many exposed wonders, and your destination is no less spectacular. Grinnell Glacier, like all the remaining glaciers in the park, is thawing. It’s estimated that by 2020 it will no longer be a glacier. (People are dumb.) The waters melting from its spout have formed Upper Grinnell Lake, a shockingly blue body of water littered with icebergs. Grinnell’s frosty expanse exudes cold but, for Jason and me, capricious rain added an element of tangible chill as we took in that odd arctic block and its basin of icicle islands.
Grinnell Glacier, like all of the ice on this neglected planet, is melting. The water in this lake was once part of its many solid acres.
We came across a whole group of bighorn sheep as we were descending from Grinnell. They didn’t seem to be too intimidated by people.
After that exhausting hike, we still had to drive 2 hours to get back to our cabin. The top of Logan Pass, the heart of the Continental Divide, was encased in a dense fog on our return voyage, making its precipitous drop-offs all the scarier. We made it back though, depleted but safe.
The trail to Grinnell passes under a waterfall. Getting wet is compulsory when a stream is cascading onto your head.
Between waterfalls and falling rain, Jason and I found ourselves pretty soggy as we trekked back from Grinnell, especially Jason.
That is how our first two days in the park concluded. Next week’s post will cover our last two days. Be prepared for rides through the skies and rapid flips.
Jason gets a paid week-long vacation every year courtesy of his employer. Yes, the actual vacation is reimbursed, not just the time off. This year, Jason and I fancied using our free ride to see Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. Although many of our acquaintances questioned the coolness of this destination, you don’t need to be a genius to realize that coolness kind of comes with glaciers. Duh.
We canoed along Whitefish Lake’s tranquil shoreline. Our rowing skills were lacking but the scenery was not.
Although experiencing Glacier National Park was the primary purpose of our trip, we didn’t head there directly. Instead, we stayed a couple of nights at a waterside lodge in Whitefish, a friendly little town about half an hour from the park. Whitefish is primarily a tourist spot with Whitefish Lake attracting visitors in the summer and Whitefish Mountain Resort bringing skiers in the winter. Its easy-going attitude was instantly decompressing. Hello relaxation!
Just another scenic stop on Danny On.
On our first afternoon, we decided to rent a canoe and paddle along the shore of the lake. We aren’t canoeing experts and we were pretty inefficient rowers but we had a great time gliding slowly through that watery landscape.
Wild huckleberries were in season and prolific along Danny On. I helped myself to quite a few of them as we hiked.
On Danny On we passed through woods full of mist and forest secrets.
We spent the following day stepping on Big Mountain via the Danny On Trail, the most popular footpath in the Flathead Valley. Danny On attracts about 14,000 hikers every year but it wasn’t crowded when we trekked it. That’s probably because tendrils of clouds were tenaciously clawing their way up its slopes of pine and wildflower, threatening to unleash their moisture at any moment. Fortunately, rain didn’t materialize much out of that dense haze. The scenery, enshrouded in vapor, was dreamy but it provided more than just a feast for the eyes. Wild huckleberries, growing abundantly and ripe on the hillsides, warranted frequent tasty stops.
I captured Whitefish Lake blushing from the nearness of the sinking sun.
Surprisingly, crossing these skinny boardwalks up in the trees didn’t freak me out.
After our hike, we hooked in for a Walk in the Treetops at Whitefish Mountain Resort. A Walk in the Treetops is a hiking tour that travels through half a mile of forest on boardwalks that are suspended up to 70 feet in the air. This particular expedition is one of the few canopy tours available in North America. Surprisingly, although I am not crazy about heights, I didn’t mind the ground being so far away, for the most part, and enjoyed this informative and uplifting outing.
We were 70 feet up from the ground on this platform. Although we were strapped in, I, unlike Jason, wasn’t about to get friendly with the ledge.
The next day we were off to Glacier National Park. Our adventures trudging onto its frozen expanses and getting cozy with its famous wildlife will be explored next week. Stay tuned.
The undead like to liven up their lack of living once in a while.
You might as well make the most of your reanimation. If you’re not oozing, you’re snoozing.
We zombies of the greater Salt Lake City area got together a few weeks ago for fun in the form of the SLC Zombie Walk. This 7th annual rot trot involved shuffling around downtown in a dribbling horde while muttering “brains” now and then just to shake things up a bit. Yup, it was epic.
Hundreds of corpses stumbled into Washington Square ready to begin their gruesome tour of downtown.
Most zombies don’t object to the narrow-mindedness that they regularly encounter. They’ll take a mind any way they can get it.
Those still breathing found our entertainment amusing too. We encountered cameras everywhere, along with many curious and startled faces.
Jason’s version of a zombie looks a lot like what might happen if a rancid steak met a cheese grater.
Posthumous rowdiness happens; you don’t have to be living to truly live.
Every summer, a group of our friends forgoes the comforts of roof and bed to head out into the “wild” for a weekend of camping. This year we opted to go to Rockport Reservoir near Park City, per my brother Drew’s suggestion. It turned out to be one of his better ideas in a while.
With a slow shutter speed and some moonlight, a lake can be a colorful thing.
Gally served as flood initiator.
Our company at Rockport consisted of my brother’s family and the Rowleys. We spread ourselves out over a few nearly ideal campsites. They were directly on a beach that was only accessible to campers and boaters, hence, we had it completely to ourselves almost the entire time. And, unlike many of Utah’s beaches, this cove was actually sandy.
The kids loved their endless access to the beach our campsites were on.
Jason and I rented a couple of WaveRunners and let everyone enjoy them.
As lovely as our secluded shoreline was, beyond it the water beckoned. Jason and I decided to rent a couple of personal watercrafts for a few hours on Saturday morning. These rentals were available for pick up right on the reservoir and we were able to drive them straight onto our beach. Yes, it was rather convenient. The WaveRunners were a big splash with the kids, whom we took turns giving rides to, ranging from mild to wild.
A beach looks better with a Jason on it.
Milo wanted to give making his own whirlpools a whirl.
Many sandcastles were built and, subsequently, demolished during our trip.
After hours of sandcastles, backstrokes, and wakes, we took a break from the reservoir to go geocaching, which Jason and I had never tried. One failed search led to Jason landing in a large bouquet of stinging nettle but, eventually, we did find a couple of different caches. The kids loved these technologically-enhanced treasure hunts and the adults seemed to find them intriguing.
Isabelle relished the shore mud and then abhorred it, at alternating intervals.
Yes, this quasi-planking pose was clearly initiated by Jason.
Following our geo quests, as camping tradition dictates, we ate hotdogs and s’mores around a campfire before jumping into some spooky tales at Silas’ request. Most of the adults passed on spinning a ghostly yarn but not me. When it comes to inventive blabbering, I don’t scare easily. I gave those youngsters a never-ending story that would make The Iliad and The Odyssey look like CliffsNotes. (I tried several times to finish my tale hastily but the kids wouldn’t allow it.) Two hours later, my impromptu account of the history of a haunted house involving bones, phantoms, and tragic romance finally came to its overdue conclusion. And you thought my posts were longwinded…
For part of our afternoon diversions we went geocaching.
I spent two hours telling the kids a ghost story around the campfire. Despite its lengthiness, they wouldn’t let me take any shortcuts to its conclusion.
Our Rockport weekend went by quickly. It had all that you’d expect from a camping excursion: cozy fires, stinky pit toilets, ghost stories, sizzling wieners, relaxation, and energetic chatter. Plus, it provided the perks of a sandy oasis.