Monday: For the second day in a row, we woke up early and were on the road by 7:00 a.m. The “rush” today was that we wanted to cut the distance we would be hiking by taking a boat shuttle part of the way, the same boat ride that Julie had taken on Saturday. We were aiming for the 9:00 a.m. trip. We had no reservations and thus would count on successfully making it onto the boat as standby, which had worked for Julie and Ed on Saturday.
We arrived around 8:40 a.m., and Julie dashed for the dock to add our names as standby, while I took my time parking, putting on moleskin, Injinji socks and then heavier wool socks and my boots, and stopping for a couple of photos as I made my way from the parking lot to the hotel.
A stitched panorama includes Many Glacier Hotel:
I visited the hotel for a bathroom break, then made my way to the boat dock. Julie’s name was called, and we boarded “Chief Two Guns.” The boat quickly made its way across Swiftcurrent Lake, which is only about a mile long. We walked across 1/4 mile of land that divides Swiftcurrent Lake from Lake Josephine.
9:27 a.m.: At the second lake, we boarded “Morning Eagle.”
Lake Josephine was a little larger than Swiftcurrent Lake, and deeper, but still not much more than a mile long.
9:39 a.m.: Here we are drawing closer to the southwest end, and we have a view of Salamander Glacier, with Mount Gould being the highest peak on the left, and Angel Wing being the foreground peak on the left that’s closer to the center of the photograph. I believe you can see the peak of Mount Grinnell on the right of the photo, peaking out behind a foreground ridge which is part of the Mount Grinnell prominence.
9:45 a.m.: The boat captain pointed out that there was a moose in the water! At the ranger talk on Thursday night, we had learned that moose can dive up to 20 feet underwater and hold their breath for as long as a minute!
I tried the video feature on my camera, which I have not used very much. I’m sorry about the shaky image. This video, and the preceding still shots of the moose, were taken with my 45-200mm lens, at the 200mm setting.
On Saturday, Julie had taken these boats across the lakes, and then had followed a flat trail 0.8 miles to Grinnell Lake. Today, we would hike 3 miles from Lake Josephine, climbing 1200′, to Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier.
10:04 a.m.: After leaving the boat, we circled around the southwest corner of Lake Josephine on a path through the forest, then took the pedestrian bridge across a stream running from Grinnell Lake to Lake Josephine, and began hiking up the prominence of Mount Grinnell.
10:17 a.m.: This is a fused HDR image featuring Grinnell Lake, Angel Wing and Mount Gould, as well as Salamander Glacier:
10:48 a.m.: Once again, there were pretty wildflowers in places:
10:59 a.m.: More wildflowers:
11:00 a.m.: In one spot, hikers have to balance their desire to stay far from the edge with their desire to avoid cold water dropping down onto them.
11:05 a.m.: Julie stops to let me rest:
11:07 a.m.: Another shot of Grinnell Lake:
11:12 a.m.: Grinnell Glacier Trail climbing far above Grinnell Lake:
11:20 a.m.: This shot is interesting because I’m shooting toward the northeast, and in the foreground one can see Grinnell Lake, and then above that and to the left one can see Lake Josephine, and then a little past that one can see Swiftcurrent Lake:
11:25 a.m.: Julie admires the view, which includes Grinnell Falls, Gem Glacier, and part of Grinnell Glacier:
11:32 a.m.: Wildflowers:
11:41 a.m.: We reached a clearing that included an outhouse, a ridge with a snowbank, and this bighorn sheep, which was about 100 yards away. A sign said something about Grinnell Glacier, confusing us momentarily as to where the glacier was.
In previous outings I had worn a floppy hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, and also to protect me from rain. However, I decided that they looked “nerdy” and therefore I switched to a baseball-style hat. I wore one with Auburn’s logo, as Auburn is my undergraduate alma mater. Auburn’s rallying cheer is “War Eagle,” and the alumni magazine includes articles describing “War Eagle Moments” around the world, when alumni who are in some exotic place (i.e., far from Alabama) meet a fellow Auburn alumnus. I had a number of quasi-War Eagle moments there, not meeting other Auburn alumni, but meeting people who recognized my hat and commented on it.
One was the day before, on the Iceberg Lake Trail, where as we neared the end of our return leg to the trailhead we passed a couple heading toward the lake. The man, who had been wearing an Atlanta Braves shirt, called out “War Eagle,” and I responded in kind, but neither of us stopped to talk. About this point on the Grinnell Glacier Trail, we passed a group of people, and I heard one of them say “War Eagle,” and I looked behind and repeated the cheer. The lead man said that he was not an Auburn fan but rather from Mississippi State. (I do not know if he was the one who had said “War Eagle,” or if it had been someone else in his group.) He was apparently a guide of some sort, though he was not in uniform and I don’t know who he worked for. I asked him where his cowbell was, and he laughed, as Mississippi State fans have a tradition (strongly frowned upon by the Southeastern Conference) of smuggling cowbells into football stadiums and ringing them to annoy opponents. I had coincidentally encountered another man with a cowbell on the trail about half an hour before, and asked him if he was a Mississippi State fan, but he was from Missouri and was just carrying the cowbell to scare off bears.
Anyway, the Mississippi State man may have been the one who straightened us out about the confusing Grinnell Glacier sign near the outhouse, and we continued on the trail, gaining more altitude.
11:55 a.m.: Salamander Glacier came into view, with a waterfall running off of it:
11:56 a.m.: Almost there! More of Grinnell Glacier became visible, and we still had nice views of Gem Glacier and Salamander Glacier:
11:57 a.m.: Finally made it! Julie enjoys an expansive view that includes partially frozen Upper Grinnell Lake (right), Grinnell Glacier (left), Salamander Glacier (top center), and tiny Gem Glacier (top left):
12:14 p.m.: The Mississippi State man walked out onto the frozen surface of Upper Grinnell Lake, and having determined that it was safe enough, we decided to do the same. Here’s an action shot of Julie leaping around on the ice:
Here I am, not only wearing my Auburn cap, but also coincidentally dressed in Auburn’s colors of orange and blue:
A shot of me without the hat:
12:39 p.m.: After a quick lunch, we followed the bedrock along the shore of Upper Grinnell Lake, making our way toward Grinnell Glacier. The round marks are stromatolites, which are “layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms (microbial mats) of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria”:
12:45 p.m.: Julie and I were disappointed that we couldn’t get to the glacier. We had not planned to walk on the glacier, as there are crevasses in glaciers and we were not trained or equipped for such an adventure, but I had hoped to get closer.
The problem was that we saw no way to get past the stream of water that was spilling from Upper Grinnell Lake to form Grinnell Falls:
The Mississippi State man showed up with some of his group, having enjoyed an impressive lunch at the lake. He had contended that there was a way to get to the glacier, but he seemed surprised to see the water running off from the lake. Perhaps at times it is frozen, or dry. He scampered downhill in a flash, trying to find a place to cross, but I believe that was hopeless, and suspect that he eventually gave up.
12:56 p.m.: Julie and I left the stream at that point and returned to the part of the lake where we had enjoyed lunch.
The scenery without me in it:
I saw a couple taking photos of each other and volunteered to capture both of them, and they returned the favor for the two of us:
A closer shot:
This was probably our favorite hike of the park, and we lingered longer there than we had at Iceberg Lake, staying about 90 minutes.
We finally began our descent, and I photographed a butterfly visiting a wildflower:
Descending the trail, we passed the man from the day before who had greeted me with “War Eagle,” and he repeated the greeting and I again answered but passed him without a chance to talk. But then a few moments later we passed his wife, who was sitting on a rock to rest, and she called out that she recognized us from the day before, on the Iceberg Lake hike. I asked if she was from Atlanta and she said that they were. She said that her husband had gone to “Tech”–presumably Georgia Tech–a one-time Auburn rival, but that they had many family members who had attended Auburn.
As we reached Lake Josephine, we realized that we had just missed the boat and that it would be another hour before it returned to the dock. We therefore decided to continue hiking on the trail along the lake back to Many Glacier Hotel. While it would add 1.7 miles to our hike, it was relatively flat. Thus, our total hike for the day was about 8 miles, with a climb and descent of 1200′.
3:39 p.m.: Back at Swiftcurrent Lake:
4:10 p.m.: I took another photograph of Many Glacier Hotel, from the parking lot on top of a hill.
Climbing to the parking lot, a man stopped to ask me if I was from Alabama, and said that he had grown up there and had supported Auburn, though most of his family had preferred the University of Alabama. He said that he had lived in Louisiana for the past 16 years and now supported LSU. Julie was pretty amazed at all the attention that the hat was getting, and that grew when later another man approached me and said that I was supporting the wrong Tigers. I was going to ask him if he was an LSU fan when he volunteered that he was a Clemson Tiger. Julie said that she didn’t think she would have attracted much notice if she had worn a Carnegie Mellon baseball cap.
8:12 p.m.: As we drove back to Apgar, we stopped at Glacier Park Lodge, which we had driven past on Montana Highway 49 the day before. Its architecture had impressed me and the Moon guide said that it was a worthwhile place to visit. There was a pretty lawn in front:
The interior was especially nice:
I had hoped to see a mountain goat up close on the trip, but so far had not seen one. This fellow was awfully close, but also was long dead:
After another long but rewarding day of hiking and sightseeing, we returned to our campsite at Apgar around 10:15 p.m. It looked as though it had rained a bit, and it was threatening to rain a little more.