A Tale of Three Bonnies and the Attack of the Spruce Grouse
We then traveled together to the picnic area just beyond the Many Glacier Hotel to start our hike at 9:30 a.m. All along the trail, we saw sign of moose: droppings and tracks. We also so wolf and bear scat. All around lake Josephine on the flanks of Grinnell Point, we saw dozens and dozens of sheep and goats. The sheep were all rams, lying down and some grazing. On this side of the lake, we saw our first wildflowers as well: hosts of glacier lilies and spring beauties with Indian Paintbrush and fern-leaved wild parsley just stating to come out. A sprinkling of yellow violets added to the color.
We stopped for lunch/snack at 11 a.m at the Oastler boat dock shelter, enjoying the views of lake Jospehine and watching more sheep and goats on the side of the mountains.
After lunch we headed back up the trail to tackle the last mile to Grinnell Lake.
At the Cataract creek crossing, we headed up first to the Hidden Falls overlook, which didn't disappoint. Right now, the snow melt is cascading the falls and filing creeks with crystal-clear water.
The stream crossing, though not too difficult, was, of course, very cold. Chrissie hurt her foot a bit and Cathy almost fell, but the current wasn't too bad if you had poles to help. A few gals didn't bring water shoes or sandals so they had to hike in wet books from then on. A few hiked the third of a mile in sandals/Keens to avoid taking off the boots once more for the return trip. The last part into the lake was snow covered, but the beach was bare.
The lake was a jewel, nestled below the bowl formed by Mount Gould, Angel Wing and the backside of the Garden Wall. We had another break for snacks and pictures before deciding we had better head on out. It was so tempting just to sit down and relax all day, enjoying the views and sounds of nature. We didn't see any wildlife on the mountains here, though.
For the return trip, we took the south east trail around the other side of Lake Josephine. This side has much downfall across the trail, so we got our exercise going over, under and around all of the trees. We hoped we didn't get ticks in the process, but no one reported any on this trip.
But we did face another menace: the dreaded spruce grouse, protecting its nest, which we didn't see. However, the grouse ran after us and then flew in a tree. While we were looking at his beauty and taking pictures, he flew down to the trail and started attacking our ankles by pecking and flapping his wings, so we skedaddled on down the trail so as not to upset him too much. We were amazed at how a bird would take on a group of 13 humans, who could have easily stomped on him at any time. All along the trail, we saw much moose droppings so we kept hoping one would show him or herself in the swampy areas near the foot of the lake, but no luck yet.
This trail swings around the end of the lake and crosses Cataract Creek again, but this time we had a bridge, so no need to get our feet wet. Not long after we crossed, we spied a moose by the Swiftcurrent boat dock, which we would have to hike around. He was a young bull just regrowing his horns. We kept a close eye on him as we approached, but while we were out of eye sight, he slipped away somewhere. We made lots of noise as we came around the dock, nonetheless.
As we neared the end of our hike, most of the gals were glad to see the benches along the side of the trail, indicating we were almost back to the cars. Some wished to drop down onto a bench to enjoy the view but wondered if they would be able to get back up.
We reached the cars at just after 3 p.m. and we decided not to try for Serrano's and instead head to Dupuyer for dinner at Buffalo Joe's and some shopping at the Cache.We said goodbye to our new friends from Kalispell, Bonnie and Holly, who may have met up with the other Kalispell bunch at Serrano's We arrived back in Great Falls at 8:30 after a very full day.
On a side note, besides one man who raced out ahead of us at the beginning of the trail, we didn't see another soul. Having Glacier to yourselves is pretty precious.
Who went: Bonnie J, Bonnie W, Bonnie S, Holly, Sue, Chrissie, Cathy, Kathy M, Deb, Doris, Jo Ann, Jenn, Katie