As I mentioned in the last post, Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana, was one of the most beautiful hikes we did on our trip. Here is a close-up map of the area and click here to see it on an interactive map.
The trail is shown on the map above as purple dots. The trail was about 12 miles round trip from where we started near the Many Glacier campground. We got to the campground early that morning from the Sunset campground to get a site. Many Glacier was a popular place and we were told it filled up around noon on weekdays every day for the last few days. After setting up the camp, we started the hiking around 9:45am. Susan carried lunch and Bryden (18 lbs) in the Snugli backpack and I took the Kelty Back Country and water. Luckily Kadia, although only 3 and 1/2, was a hardy hiker so I didn’t have to carry her for a whole hike anymore. Her record so far was 5 miles hike to Abrahams Falls in Smoky Mountains NP in June. She was all happy and skipped around on the trail. The first mile was pretty flat. There were quite a few thimbleberries to pick. They are like wild raspberries, quite good. We picked a few to satisfy our curiosity. It took us about 15 minutes to get the 1st lake, SwiftCurrent Lake, a beautiful blue lake like most glacier water fed lakes.
We hiked along the lake for a little bit. At the end of the lake before we turned off heading toward Lake Josephine, we can see the famous Many Glacier Hotel in the far distance. We headed up this trail toward Lake Josephine (see photo on the right, point 1 on the map) and ran into this guy, perhaps in his late 50s or early 60s, resting along the trail with a kayak on the ground. He had paddled across the SwiftCurrent Lake and now he was carrying the kayak toward Lake Josephine and was taking a break. The kayak must be at least 60 lbs. I remember thinking that was so cool that I would like to do that in the future. I regret that I didn’t offer him any help but luckily someone else came by later helped him carrying the kayak to the lake.
We hiked along Lake Josephine for about a half of its length to a fork. To the left, it followed along the lake toward Grinnell Lake and to the right, it started ascending toward Grinnell Glacier. At the beginning of the hike, we weren’t sure if we can take two kids on such a long hike (12 miles + 1700 ft elevation gain) so we decided we would make the final decision when we reached this junction (about 2 miles). Susan said she felt okay and because I haven’t had to carry Kadia yet, I was all for it so we started heading up the trail.
A woman with her teenager daughter passed us; the mother was nice and said many flattering and encouraging words to us. She seemed to be strong and hiked with a purpose. Thank you wherever you are. This is a popular trail because of its beauty but not crowded like the Half Dome trail in Yosemite; we ran into a fair number of people: young and old. An old couple mentioned that they were like us 30 years ago with their kids on their back, and now they have all grown up. I really admired them for hiking at their age: I hope we can still do the same 30 years from now. We saw another group with a dad carrying an infant in a front pouch. That was incredible to carry that much weight in front for such a long hike.
After 10 minutes, Kadia started to complain about being tired so I had to carry her for a while. This began a 4 miles stretch of gradual but unrelenting ascent toward the top. Although it felt short as the scenary was spectacular every step of the way. We ran into the mother and daughter again a few hours later, while we were sitting down having lunch at the picnic area near the top. They encouraged us more and told us there was a big surprise waiting for us at the top. (We ran into them again the next day near the Many Glacier Hotel and they were heading for Wharton NP to hike the Carthew-Alderson trail. We had the same plan but couldn’t find a ride the next morning to the trailhed. I hope you had a great hike there.) We felt recharged with the kind words and the food. With Kadia leading the way, we started the final climb toward the top. And what a surprise it was! The upper Grinnell Lake (see photo on the left and point 4 on the map) was dotted with icebergs, some were floating, some were like sculptures. It was eerie to see that in the middle of the summer when we were wearing t-shirts and shorts. But it was a sight to remember.
I used the Xplorist 500 to keep track of our hike on this trail. On the right, it showed the elevation profile of the trail. I think I ran out the battery toward the end, therefore, the flat part seemed to be shorter on the right. The trail was a top notch trail and highly recommended if you are there. The condition of the trail was excellent and the footing was secure throughout the trail. It was a steady but gradual climb. Take your time and enjoy the scenary then you won’t even notice you are climbing. Hopefully it will still have glaciers for a few more years but it may not last forever as the current prediction has all glaciers disappeared from the Glacier NP by 2020 due to global warming. I hope not and I hope we can do things to preserve this natural beauty. I pledge to work at home more. 🙂
On the way back down, we took a picture of all three lakes, Grinnell Lake, Lake Josephine and Lake Sherburne. Contrary to some postcards, Swiftcurrent Lake was not visible from here (see photo below and point 5 on the map). I think I will write about Goblin Valley tomorrow.