Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Rugged Splendor of Glacier National Park

Spectacular, awe-inspiring, and rustic are the predominant words that come to mind when thinking of Glacier National Park. This park is an eyeful of majestic vistas. It is large in scope, filled with sights, smells, and sounds to delight those who like to hike, fish, kayak, and canoe. Or maybe for those who just want to take in the sights from the amazing, serpentine Going To The Sun Road which, as the name implies, climbs to heights you could not imagine a car going!   

For the uninitiated, this park in the northernmost reaches of Montana and crosses into Alberta, Canada where it is renamed the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. There is an eastern side and a western side to the park, and there are a large number of lakes that show off the magnificent blue of glacial waters. Yes, the glaciers are melting, and they have become far and few between. I learned from someone with authority that they will soon disappear; the last glacier is expected to be gone by the year 2020. It is a feast for the eyes, and well worth the journey to the top of our country to take in all that the Park has to offer. 

We spent much of our time hiking, specifically along or to Swiftcurrent, Josephine, and Grinnell Lakes, and to see various waterfalls which are always favorites of Clay’s.  The hike to remember was the Highline Trail which hugs a cliff side to a frightening drop on a trail that felt awfully narrow. Suffice to say it was narrow enough at points that the park has installed a cable for hikers to hold onto for security. I expected the trail to get wider and it never really did, so my adrenaline pumped for the duration. The Highline Trail is an 11 mile hike, and then you can take a park bus back to Logan Pass where you started. I was honest with myself after approximately two miles, however, realizing that these unbelievably magnificent views I was trying to enjoy were not going to get even more unbelievably magnificent, and I would be content to enjoy them in reverse direction on the way back. So turn around we did, hiking the two miles back much more confidently even though it was the very same trail I had just shuddered my way across.  

There is plenty of wildlife in Glacier National Park that you get to meet up close and personal. We encountered an adorable mountain goat on a hillside on the first half of the Highline Trail, only to meet the same mountain goat, looking more threatening and less adorable as it walked toward us on the trail as we headed back. There is barely room for a single person on this trail, let alone a person AND a mountain goat; one wrong step and either the goat or we fall off a mountainside into the abyss.  So Clay and I backed into a tiny nook on the rock side of the cliff, holding hands, and I heard Clay say “This is amazing; this is incredible” as the goat walked right past us within inches. I missed seeing this, of course, as my eyes were tightly closed but, once opened, I watched the goat continue on the trail we had just hiked and commenced breathing again. 

Can you see our friend, the billy goat?

Up Close and Personal

The payoff for these adventures was living out my occasional desire for thrill-seeking, enjoying indescribably beautiful vistas of mountains and valleys, and a sense of accomplishment that my common daily life does not frequently offer. If you are a nature lover, Glacier National Park should be in your travel plans for its fascinating and profound sights that make it worth the journey.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'll take my sweaty palms sitting at my computer reading your tale of adventure over walking along the Highline Trail. Thanks for making this possible.