Where We Be
|The hike to Grinnell Glacier starts in a particularly
fun way -- with a scenic cruise across two lakes
|Hike to Grinnell Glacier -- Glacier NP
Wow, a full and satisfying day combining a
scenic boat tour, an alpine hike, and an on-foot
sighting of a mama grizzly and her two cubs.
The day began with an 8:30 am boat ride starting
from the dock at Many Glacier Hotel ($25 pp).
Two boats take you across Switftcurrent Lake
and Josephine Lake, with a quarter-mile hike in
between. The second boat drops you off at the
trailhead for the steep hike up to Grinnell
Glacier (or an easier hike to Grinnell Lake). The
trail to the glacier is 7.6 miles round trip, with
1,840 feet of elevation gain. The hike is tough
but gorgeous, with tremendous views of
glacially blue Grinnell Lake far below. Three
glaciers -- Gem, Salamander, and Grinnell -- are
also visible, all much reduced in size from the
earliest photos taken of them in the early 1900s.
This is the first time we've gone on a ranger led
hike. While hiking in a group takes some getting
used to, we genuinely enjoyed the insights the
ranger provided into alpine plants and animals.
It was also a comfort having him around once
the grizzly and her two cubs were sighted --
especially after the mama decided to charge
down towards the trail, apparently in an attempt
to scatter any hikers who might be walking
along it! Thankfully no one was in her way, but
what a sight to see her barreling downhill! She
began walking along the trail in our direction --
which was disconcerting since this was the only
way back out. Thankfully she eventually aban-
doned the trail and headed downhill to forage.
|We spent nearly two hours at the top hanging out with the ranger and a member of our group
who was a geology expert. Together we hiked about a mile down to the lake's outlet stream.
|One reason for the extended hike was the chance to see these circular fossils of stromatolites – one of the most ancient life forms
on earth. They're largely responsible for creating the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere – and thus largely responsible for us!
|Stromatolites still exist today in places like Shark Bay, Australia. Their circular forms are etched right into the glaciered
bedrock at Upper Grinnell Lake. The ranger said they remind him of the swirls in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
|We also absolutely loved this slab of yellow glacial rock at
Upper Grinnell Lake covered with what looks like calligraphy
|After our return cruise to the Many Glacier Hotel, we drove back to our campground
and celebrated with some huckleberry ice cream at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn
|You nearly have to pass under these falls to get by them. The trail is narrow
enough that the young girl at right looks a little uncertain about proceeding.
|In the background behind the ranger you can see
the section of trail that the grizzly bear family crossed
|This mountain goat is very close to the trail at Grinnell Lake
and doesn't seem overly concerned about our big group
|Near the top you get a glorious view looking back down the valley
at a string of three lakes -- Grinnell, Josephine, and Sherburne
|Ah! The top at last! This is Upper Grinnell Lake,
somber and cold, with glaciers hanging above it.
|A steep uphill climb eventually brings us
to this fantastic overlook of Grinnell Lake
|A quarter-mile hike up and over a hill brings us to
Josephine Lake, where we catch our second boat
|The early morning sun brightens the shore
but leaves the mountains in shade
|Our ranger-led hike begins with an easy walk around the lake,
but then the fun begins -- steep switchbacks heading up, up, up
|Our first-ever grizzly sighting while on foot! The photo is fuzzy but
you can see the grizzly and her two cubs foraging in the meadow.
|As we hiked out we were able to cautiously pause on the trail to observe the
grizzly and her cubs in the meadow below. Obviously this is prime grizzly habitat.