Gals Hold Piece of Ancient Glacier Ice in their Hands; Rescue Goat
Our trip had two purposes this time: shuttle a vehicle for our group that was coming out from Granite Park Chalet via the Highline into Many Glacier and while there, do a great hike! And that's what we did.
The day started at 5 a.m. to a trip to St. Mary to pick up Mary Irene and Mary S's car. We arrived around 8 a.m., got the car and picked up Mary Irene and then drove the pot-holed road into Many Glacier. There weren't too many cars headed in so we were hopeful on getting a parking space. On the way in, Katie noticed three spaces at the Grinnell Glacier/picnic area lot, but by the time we dropped off the car and a few went to the bathroom, the spots were gone by the time we went back.
In fact, so many cars were trying to park now, people were parking on the street and behind other cars. We didn't dare risk a ticket, so we returned to the Swiftcurrent lot and took one of the few remaining spots.Whew! It proves you need to arrive by 8 am. if you hope to get a parking place.
So we ended up getting in an extra mile and a half by walking the road We got on trail around 9 a.m. The trail didn't seem too packed at first. We believed that most were taking the boat across the lake so the lake side was rather empty. We enjoyed the cool under the trees and the views at the boat dock at Swiftcurrent Lake.
As we came around Jospehine, we saw the boat head toward the far end. We hoped to keep ahead of those who took the boat and those on the Ranger-led hike. We did for a while, but many soon overtook us, including the ranger hike. We were so busy taking photos that we lagged a bit. During this time, a large bull moose shot out of the tree with a crash and crossed right in font of Amber and Josy--Josy scurried up the side of the hill. The bull was headed to Grinnell Lake and a few minutes later we enjoyed watching him swim across one end of the lake.We couldn't believe how quickly the moose made it down the hill! Note: it is very hard on this trail to find a bathroom place with the narrow trail and so many people.
When we finally reached the upper Grinnell Lake, we were hungry and relieved to get off our feet for a few minutes. We sat on a rock by the edge of the glacier water and soaked our feet while we watched crazy people jump in and get out on icebergs. One man stood on the iceberg and then lay down to create a snow angel on it--brrr.
After lunch, we continued cross country over the large rock ledges (took a bit of scrambling), formed by the glacier, and the gravel pushed into piles by the same force to view the watermelon algae turning puddles of water red and to see the remains of stromatolites, one of the best collection of them in the world. Rock after rock was covered in the remains of these ancient formations. Some of us added to our vocabulary with "stomatolite" and "insolation," which Josy informed us mean the exposure to radiation or sun's rays.
Then Josy, Amber and Katie decided to head to the Glacier (disregarding the warning sign) after Josy scouted the route over the outlet to the lake, the creek that forms the largest waterfall over the cliff. We did have to watch our step on thin ledges and rock piles as we sidestepped through the water to reach the far side so we could touch the glacier.
And we did touch the glacier, but as we were doing so, a large portion collapsed making a very large booming noise. We imagined Mary and Judy thinking we fell into a crevasse or being buried for good, but we didn't dare venture onto the Glacier. After the collapse, Josy was able to find a small piece that we could hold in our hand. It was amazing to hold this ancient ice, knowing it had formed many centuries ago. Of course, we took a pic!
At 2 p.m., Katie said it was time to head down. At the picnic area, we saw four goats, two nannies and two kids! Speaking of goats, when we arrived at the boat dock at Jospehine Lake, the boat was just arriving. When a family debarked, a child dropped his stuffed goat into the water. Josy and Amber quickly grabbed a hiking pole, waded a bit into the water and retrieved the goat with the hiking pole. Josy wrung out the water and handed the toy back to the child as he stood sad-faced on the dock. Way to save the day, Gals!
After our break, it took us three hours to arrive at the picnic area (it took us four hours to go up). It was 5 p.m but we had to walk the extra .8 mile to the Swiftcurrent parking lot, so it was almost 5:30 by the time we completed. A stop in the restroom took longer than we thought due to many women in line.
Then it was off to dinner at Two Sisters Cafe. Katie was glad to see Big John was back for another season; he greeted her warmly with a hug. The food was good enough, the service adequate (the waitress rolled her eyes when we took a while to order), but what everyone enjoyed was the experience of this kitschy place with vanity plates and funny bumper stickers littering the walls and following the yellow brick road to the bathrooms.
Finally, it was time to drive home, first stopping in St. Mary to drop Mary off at her car. She was camping there and planning to hike Siyeh Bend to Sunrift Gorge the next day but was now questioning if two big hikes in a row was wise. Josy, who drove, was also planning to go on this hike. We teased her that she could sleep on the way.
We arrived back in town at 10:15 p.m. A great day for a hike.