From Highline to Swiftcurrent, Gals Enjoy Granite Park Chalet
July 25th. We started our big adventure early in the morning, picked up our preordered coffee drinks at 6 am at the Glacier Perk Coffee shop at St, Mary Lodge , and headed off to the parking lot at the St. Mary visitors Center where we parked the cars and waited for the 7 am shuttle to Logan pass . We had dropped our shuttle car off at the Swiftcurrent motel parking lot in Many Glacier the night before and enjoyed our last supper at the Many Glacier Hotel. We arrived at Logan pass at 7:50 am, and were on the Highline trail headed for the Chalet by 8:00 am accompanied by winds gusting upwards of 40 mph. It was a chilly start to our hike requiring wind breakers to cut the morning chill . We enjoyed many fields of bear grass along the way and a mountain goat who seemed nonplussed by our presence on the trail.
We were blessed with perfect weather allowing for beautiful vistas along the way. Although we did not see any griz, we did pass several fresh piles of bear scat along the trail, arriving at the chalet at 12:30 pm. The staff at the chalet were very informative while checking us into our rooms and giving us the grand kitchen tour with instructions on compostables, what to do with left overs, kitchen reservations, travel in twos with bear spray to water facility, etc.
The afternoon was open to spend time just relaxing or hiking as desired . Roni, Deb and Julie opted to hike up to the Overlook while Anita, Sue, Sara and Kuntz elected to kick back and relax.
Roni, Deb , Julie and Mary enjoyed their homemade pizza for dinner and even had enough to share with chalet staff and the rest of our group!! Delish!!
After enjoying the 7 pm coffee hour, hosted by the chalet staff, and their informative talk, we headed off to bed.
Day two at the chalet: After breakfast, Roni, Deb, Julie, Mary, Anita, Sara and Kuntz hiked up to Swiftcurrent Lookout leaving at 8:30 am and returning at 12:30 pm. They all raved about the panoramic views . They have stories to tell about the huge Marmot who attempted to steal Sara’s poles and Anita’s Gatorade.
Sue waited at the chalet until 9:30 am for others to appear on the trail before hiking up to the Overlook. She laid memory stones there for Julie Anne (daughter), Chrissie (dear friend/GIG member), and for Jim Buley (Sara’s husband).
It was a leisurely afternoon with some enjoying a game of “Greedy”- a dice game that some of us learned to play from Katie last summer in Yoho. Others enjoyed the scenery and even took a little nap!!
We spent the later part of the early evening with all eyes on the hikers who were slowly making their way down the rocky face of the eastern wall adjacent to the Overlook- who even knows how they were able to get out to that part of the slope!! “Ranger” Bob took their names and reported them to other park officials even though they insisted “they do this all the time!!”.
The evening chalet program included “Ranger “ Bob and his story of the Night of the Trapper Fire in 2003. He received a National honor for saving the chalet and the 39 people trapped there that night. The highlight at end of the day was seeing a deer in velvet walk through the chalet grounds , a Grizzly bear excavating the side of the mountain through the spotting scope and watching the sunset . (also heard about a sow and two cubs at the water facility a quarter mile down the trail)
After breakfast the next morning , we packed up and left the Chalet at 8:07 am, heading up the trail to Swiftcurrent Pass where we took our traditional group GIG picture at the cairn. The wind accompanied us over and down the pass making our travel a bit dicey at times with gusts upwards of 40 mph. This is a corridor that the grizzlies use to move between Granite Park and Many Glacier so we stuck close together as a group and were “bear aware." At one point, someone yelled “there is a bear on the trail”. This began a host of whistle blowing, “hey bear” yelling and high anxiety discussion about what to do with nowhere to hide . Once we determined that the bear was not moving, we inched our way down the narrow trail only to find a “Bear stump" on the side of the trail that provided us with what looked like a dark silhouette of a bear from afar… Ha- time to relax and laugh a little!!
The rest of our descent into the valley was met with more pleasurable sightings- a cow moose grazing on a hillside and a large Bbl moose in velvet trying to disguise himself while standing in a stream with only his head sticking out of the bushes! We completed the last switchback, arriving at upper Bullhead Lake. We separated into two groups below Redrock Falls (faster and moderate fast) and completed our hike at the parking lot at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn at 1:30 pm. After having a late lunch as a group at Two Sisters Café, we parted ways and headed home . What a great trip!!
Participants: Sue, Sara, Mary, Anita, Kuntz, Roni, Deb, Julie Some of Flowers on the trail: Fields of Beargrass, Yarrow, Glacier Lily, Sticky Geranium, Monkey flower, Spirea, Cow parsnip, Wild Bergamot, Yellow Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, Blanket flower Arrowleaf Bslsomroot, Harebell, Stickseed, Huckleberries, Heart of Arnica, Indian blanket flower, Pussy toes, Mountain Penstemon, and more!! Animals seen: Grizzly bear seen through spotting scope at Granite Park chalet, bull moose, cow moose, many marmots!!, chipmunks, ground squirrel, mountain goat, buck deer in velvet