Going Glacial Part II: Day 3 & 4
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.