July 23, 2017 – Many Glacier Campground, Grinnell Glacier Hike
We set the alarm for 4:15am and rolled into the Many Glacier Campground at 5:30am. It was still 20 miles, much slow over a rough road, away from where we stayed the previous night. We fell into line as the 10th car, which gave us some confidence as surely 10 sites would empty in a campground with 110 spots on a Sunday. But would there be a big enough spot to fit our truck camper and our 12’ trailer? Because we really don’t want to go back to the place we stayed last night. 7am came and went. Cars slowly started moving forward. We could see the barricade. The camp host assigns spots approached our vehicle and started radioing to the other hosts about our size. Sure enough, she tells us she has a spot she’s pretty sure we can fit into. Wahooo!!! The previous occupants had already left so we could pull in right away. Mark took a look at the pretty spot, and the trees that would make entry/exit very challenging, if not impossible. But we felt so lucky at that point, we had to make an attempt. We got into the site with just a couple tries, but it was clear there was no way we could open the slides, which meant we couldn’t actually get into our camper. The host came by and said they did have another spot for us, we just had to get out of this site, which he swore would be simple, just back out the way you came in. Needless to say, it took us about an hour of frustration and a few broken tree branches, with the help of our very kind neighbors who had pulled into the 5am line right behind us, to actually get into the bigger spot, not without its own parking challenges. By 9am, we were cooking breakfast and finally feeling happy with our home for the next 4 days. In fact, after egg and ham English muffin sandwiches, we even felt up to a hike. The hike to Grinnell Glacier was 6 miles from our campsite, one way. The first two miles were flat and shaded and we were questioning the person who rated this as a moderately strenuous hike. We passed 3 alpine lakes on the way, which were stunning turquoise and not as cold as expected, water in the low 60s. After mile 2, the trail started getting steeper and rockier. As we were passing above the third lake, Grinnell Lake, we saw a beach at one end of the lake with people hanging out. It was quite a ways in the distance. I saw a swimmer in the water and pointed him out. I kept looking, surprised to see this swimmer going farther and farther in this cold water. Once the swimmer was about halfway through the lake, it occurred to me that I wasn’t actually seeing any arms coming out of the water. I stopped and pulled out my binoculars and confirmed, that swimmer is not human! We kept watching until it came close enough to identify! It was a bull moose! It literally swam the entire length of this lake. We watched him come out on the other side, and start eating. Hmm, just like me after a swim. What a spectacular way to start our trip seeing something we have never seen before! We continued on to the head of the glacier, which contained an icy lake. We enjoyed lunch and dipping our feet in the icy water. And then Mark dipped his whole head in the lake too, right next to an iceberg. Not to be outdone, I had to follow suit, though it was more of a face dip than a whole head dip. Refreshing! Luckily the hike was downhill back and we made it back without incident.
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July 24, 2017 – Canoe, Fish, Swim
After a long hike day, with another scheduled for tomorrow, we wanted a more relaxing day. We walked a mile to the Many Glacier Hotel and rented a canoe for a few hours. We paddled and fished the Swiftcurrent Lake, catching mainly 6-10” brook trout. When I was up 3 fish to Mark’s 2, I tried to call it a day, but there were more fish to be caught. By the time we each reached 5 fish, the wind was starting to pick up and we headed back. After a few Go Pro selfies of course.
In the national park campgrounds, you are limited to generator use at meal times only, which means the camper can get pretty warm midday. We decided to walk to the closest lake we had seen the previous day, about a mile away, and go for a swim. The beach was very rocky and proved challenging for us since we both have wimpy feet. However, as you can see, we both jumped in to Josephine Lake and enjoyed relaxing with a stunning view of Grinnell Glacier. This was definitely our most relaxing day and it’s finally starting to sink in that we’re on vacation.
July 25, 2017 – Hike Swiftcurrent Pass Trail to Bullhead Lake
We had a lot of options with destinations and distances with this hike on the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. Mark vetoed the long 16 mile option that would have taken us up the Pass and to the Granite Park Chalet, which we have hiked to once before on a different trail from another area of the park. Instead we decided to hike 10 miles along 3 lakes, with possible fishing at the last 2 lakes. I also knew there were huckleberries growing wild so came armed with sandwich baggies. The first lake, called Fishercap, is known for early morning and evening wildlife viewing. We watched 4 deer for a little while before moving on. We came upon the second lake at mile 2. Even though we had read and were told by the ranger that there were 10-12” brook trout, the lake was very shallow and we decided to press on. The trail was relatively flat and as with everything up here, beautifully surrounded by trees, various water pools, streams, lakes, and stunning views. We reached the 3rd lake at mile 4. Mark set up his pole and attempted to fish briefly, but again the lake was very shallow along the shoreline and he wasn’t having any luck. We decided to pack up and have lunch at the waterfall that we hadn’t turned in for on the way up. Just as we arrived at Redrocks Falls, we looked up to see a mama grizzly bear and her 2 cubs making their way behind the water, about 100 yards from us. Mark was able to snap a few pictures of them, but they were covering ground pretty quickly and moved out of view. Feeling safely separated by the river, we decided to go in the direction they were headed along the trail back to the 2nd lake in hopes they were headed there. We were walking along when we heard a loud crashing sound and a female moose came crashing onto the trail just 20 feet in front of us. She was running and turned in our direction. In a heartstopping moment, she turned and smashed toward us a few steps. We were trying to get out of her way, but she was coming so fast. Mark took off toward some trees for cover while I ran back down the trail. Luckily she turned in the direction she had started on. At the rate she was running, we’re guessing she got startled by the same bears we saw as they made their way downriver. In about 5 minutes time, we saw 3 grizzly bears and a moose pretty close up. We found a high spot up on a rock lookout and did spot the bears very briefly continuing to make their way. Though we continued on to the 2nd lake for our much delayed lunch, we did not see any more wildlife. Mark started getting the camper ready to be packed up tomorrow, but then we decided to go ahead and stay one more night here. In just 3 days, this trip has already been exactly what we were expecting and more. We are once again grateful for the opportunities we have and the creation we get to see.
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July 26, 2017 – To Canoe or Not to Canoe
For a much deserved late morning, we relished staying in bed til about 9:15am. We got ready and headed to the lake for another canoe/fishing trip on Swiftcurrent Lake. The lake was about a mile and a half away from the campground so the walk took us about half an hour. By the time we got down there, the winds that were generally starting after lunch, had already begun. It wasn’t dangerous by any means, but there was enough wind to make fishing difficult. We decided not to canoe after all and instead enjoyed perusing the Many Glacier Hotel and gift shop. It turned into a welcomed rest day. While Mark did dishes and cleaned up the camper, I went to the camp laundromat for some laundry. I also enjoyed a bottle of huckleberry hard cider. We had to do some work getting the camper ready. Around 6pm, we set off for a half mile walk to Fishercap Lake, where we had seen the deer a few days ago. We had heard multiple sightings of moose and set off with high hopes and the long lens. To our delight, there was a cow moose in the lake. The water came to her shoulders so as she dropped her head all the way to the bottom to pull up the green mossy weeds, you could only see her fuzzy shoulders and hindquarters sticking out of the water. Then she would lift her head up, weeds hanging from her mouth, make a loud snort, chew for awhile, and down she went again. We took turns snapping pictures of her for about an hour when she put her head up, ears raised, intently watching the shoreline. Out of the woods walked a young bull moose. He also waded into the lake and ate the aqueous weeds to his heart’s content. It was a peaceful, relaxing evening spent in awe of nature.