Weather Changes Plans, Doesn't Spoil Views, Sperry Stay
Outstanding Views; Bull Moose Highlight Long Hike Over Piegan Pass
Wonderful Waterton Weekend Features Carthew-Alderson Traverse; Bear's Hump, 'Beauty and the Beast"; Petroglyphs at Provincial Park
WHAT did a group of nine ladies whose average age was 64 accomplish between August 11 to 13, 2016? All of us made it to GRANITE PARK CHALET, a destination that was built in 1913 (which is older than any of us).
One person alone could not have accomplished this hike without the other eight ladies. This hike was a true example of why Together Everyone Accomplishes More = TEAM works which equals GIG teamwork! Read on!
"Super views, great people, fun for all! Nice to have such a good group of people." -- Gail
"'Everything I learned in Kindergarten... 'I have been reminded of in GIG -- share -- share your food, your water, moleskin, arnica, etc. Be Kind to others -- help carry their pack if it is too heavy, let them go ahead of things if needed. Listen to your leader -- she knows alot about the length of the trip, elevation gain, where to catch the shuttle, etc." -- Jeanne
"Granite Park brings a whole new meaning to 'Breathtaking Views.' My biggest takeaway was: 'No hike is so hard that the view won't be worth it. Heat, rain, steep elevation gains all disappear when you see the view from the top." -- Brenda
"I never cease to be amazed about how GIG brings together intelligent women who can do more together than of us individually. Each hike builds deeper friendships." -- Mary
"Remember the feeling of seeing and holding your baby for the first time after birth? The same feeling occurs when walking over the top and seeing Grinnell Glacier or Swift Current Overlook -- Beautiful! The GIG Girls are the Best!" -- Cathy K
"This was such a wonderful adventure. I loved it. Spending time with these wonderful, caring women made it even more special! My favorite hike was to Grinnell Glacier Overlook. I'm crossing this hike to Granite Park Chalet off my bucket list!" -- Randi
"Our trip to Granite Park Chalet had perfect weather; fog, sunshine, clouds, rain, all at the perfect times! Beautiful scenery, great food and fabulous companionship! 'Be quiet and breath!' Super leader!" -- Bonnie
"Giggers are GREAT in Glorious GLACIER!" -- Patty
"Col-LABOR-ation in working together. Wisdom from life's experiences and sharing of knowledge. Caring for each other was the most significant!!!! If I could choose eight siblings I would choose each and every one of you. I had no siblings as a child. -- Kathy D
P.S. Each one of us was a "LEADER at one time or another during this hike. Pat yourself on the back for stepping up when needed. It is deeply appreciated by each and everyone of us!
How Our Trip Unfolded:The weather did not want to cooperate as we started our four day adventure to Granite Park Chalet. The night before it rained three inches in an hour in Great Falls and flooded one of our ladies basement, not once but twice. Bonnie did not think she would be able to go but her family took over the task of dealing with the water. We were to hike around Sunrift Gorge, St Mary and Baring Falls but with 90% chance of rain, wind and thunderstorms, we decided to cancel that hike.
The trip started later in the day and we headed to St. Mary and stopped at the Visitors Center and watched a short movie about the Park. A few miles down the road we turned into Rising Sun and had an ample dinner before we settled into are rooms. Cathy K had just come to our room and asked if anyone wanted to go for a walk when she turned and looked out the window to see a very large beautiful shiny black bear eating berries. Everyone shouted bear, bear and cameras were retrieved quickly to capture the moment. Someone in the parking lot set off their car alarm and spooked the bear so no pictures were to be had. Cathy K decided that she did not want to hike after all, especially because the bear was on the trail.
Morning arrived and we headed to Logan Pass to start our adventure. With a few quick pictures we were on the Highline Trail. The weather was quite foggy and a young couple asked if it would lift or should they do another trail, we convinced them that it would lift so they stayed with us for about half of the trip. I think the fog was helpful to some of the ladies because of their trepidation of the distant down along the first part of the trail. Along the way there was a huge marmot and her two little ones laying on the rocks. As we proceeded the fog slowly began to lift, it had been covering the views but now they were beginning to show. We were treated to many flowers and lush plants and at Haystack Pass it was time for a lunch break.
As we proceeded along the trail we spotted goats and came across a lone ram that was enjoying his lunch also. The scenery was changing and the view were ever expanding and the sun had decided to emerge and illuminated the huge mountains. A deer was spotted chose to the trail and there were many photo opportunities to enjoy.
We arrived at the Granite Park Chalet in the afternoon and most were happy to put down their twenty pound pack and get settled in the bunk quarters after the seven and a half mile hike. The staff showed us the kitchen, food storage and we picked a time to use the kitchen to cook dinner. Some hikers hiked the trail to get water for dinner or drinking which is located one fourth of a mile on the trail to the campground. The group was ready to check out the chalet and dispose of our packs in our balcony rooms that had a super view of the mountains. We prepared dinner and for some in our group it was the first time that they experienced a freeze dried meal. The evening program was presented by the four young people that worked at the chalet and they were superb speakers. As we enjoyed the program we were treated to coffee, tea, spiced tea or coco. Quiet time was at 10:00 and we were glad to rest. A few of our group ventured out with our headlamps and bear spray to look at the Perseid Meteor Shower. We did see a few but were a little disappointed in the display. On our return trip by the chalet a large buck decided he wanted a look at what we were doing and with only a picnic table between us we slowly walked past each other in the night.
We awoke to another beautiful day of and a perfect day to hike Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Eight women packed only water, cameras and bear spray the take the taxing hike to the top. It is about a four mile round trip but a very steep climb to the top to look down at Grinnell Glacier. Before the group headed on their hike, the Granite staff informed us of the mule train arrival that traveled up from the Loop Trail twice a week to bring supplies to the chalet. The wrangler rode his horse and had a string of four mules with him and he removed large plastic containers that carried food, fresh bedding and other supplies. The gas tanks used to supply the fuel for cooking weighed one hundred pounds apiece. I was amazed at how well the animals behaved and I was struck by the glimpse of our rich western heritage of dedicated animals shaping the park.
Everyone was back for lunch from the Grinnell Overlook hike and with a short rest, a group of five decided to attempt the Swift Current Overlook. A ranger informed the group that it might rain and rain it did. On the groups return they were excited to see such awesome views and did not seem to mind the rain. Another night of cooking our dinner in a bag. We were getting pretty good a measuring, boiling water and adding it to our freeze dried meals. Before we turned in we again took part in the evening program.
Our last day we headed down the Loop Trail, a decent of 2200 feet in four miles. The trail was better than anticipated and we were treated to magnificent views and many flowers. The huckleberries and thimble berries were just right for the picking and that is what we decided to do. We arrived at the loop on Going to the Sun and then took the free shuttle to Logan Pass. Our last stop before heading home was at Rising Sun and we proceeded to have an early dinner. The four days went quickly but what we took away in experiences and friendships won’t be soon forgotten.
Cool Dip in Lake Helps Shake off Heat of Beau-Coup Elevation Gain
Nice Boat Ride Concludes Fun Hike to Twin Falls, Upper Two-Med Lake
On Saturday, July 30, Gail Holzheimer, Chrissie Jackson and Randi Graves hiked to Iceberg Lake. It was a beautiful sunny day with lots of people on the trail. A short distance up the trail a man told us that a mama grizzly and her two cubs had been seen on the hillside above us. Chrissie, hoping to see them, checked the hillside frequently. Some of the hikers ahead of us loudly announced their presence to warn the bears if they were near. All along the trail, people were friendly; they offered to take pictures of our group, shared information about animals they'd seen, and cheered us on as we got closer to the lake.
About 3 miles up the trail, near the waterfall, we had our first chance to sit down and rest. It is a welcoming spot alongside the river where people can sit and cool their feet. We took time to have a snack here and enjoy the people watching. Moving on, we could see that we'd made significant progress. The huge cirque that holds the lake seemed much closer.
On this next segment of the hike, the swaths of wild flowers were incredible; they were so lush and colorful. We wished Katie was with us to identify them. We recognized thimble berries, Indian paint brush, bear grass and blue bells, but there were soooo many more!! It seemed that the higher up we got, the fresher the flowers were. Also on this section of the hike, Chrissie spotted a herd of mountain goats grazing in a patch of green just below a big snow bank. Goats, but no bears! Further up the trail, hikers coming down told us about two moose enjoying the coolness of a pond down in a meadow on the left side of the trail. Also, in the valley on our left, we could see the river that flows out of Iceberg Lake make its way and drop over two or three falls. Just a short distance before Iceberg Lake, there was a "pre-lake" as Gail called it, with another wonderful array of wildflowers leading up to it!
Finally, we made it to the lake. It was so worth it! The water is deep aqua, which makes the perfect background for the icebergs. There must have been 50-75 people on the beach. They were loving it. People walked out to the icebergs, climbed up, lay down and made snow angels, yelled with delight, and either walked back, or dived in and swam back. We sat next to a fun family of five from Wisconsin, which included three teen daughters. The daughters and their mom all climbed the bergs. Then Chrissie decided she had to do it too. After that Gail thought she must also venture out (it might be her last chance), which she did with the help of borrowed sandals & one of the daughters. Randi had no desire to go, but she succumbed to peer pressure from the "mom" and Chrissie and Gail. She also borrowed sandals and an arm from a daughter and made it to the nearest iceberg, about 6 feet from shore. What fun!! After several more people scaled our iceberg, it could not endure it any more and split apart. The Wisconsin family was not only enjoying Glacier, but they were using their hikes to prepare for hiking the John Muir trail next year. Impressive!
We finished our lunch and decided to head back because it was already after 2 pm; Katie says you need to head back by two.
On the way back, we were tired, but clouds and breezes and stops at the little streams to dip our scarves in the cold water helped us back down the mountain. We refreshed ourselves at the lodge and then headed over to Many Glacier Lodge for a delicious dinner. The Ptarmigan hikers were already there. Gail and Randi didn't see them when they came in, but Chrissie did. She heard about their hike and Kathy's fall at the end of their hike. Sorry, Kathy. We made it back to Great Falls about 10:30. What a fabulous day. None of us were sure we could do the 10 miles, but we did.
Girls in Glacier and Katie Kotynski