Iceberg Lake

About a week and a half ago, I picked up my friend from work, Cindy, and we headed over the Going to the Sun Road with two possible destinations in mind: Grinell Glacier or Cracker Lake.

We did neither of them.

Instead, we decided to go to Iceberg Lake, which was in the same area but has actual icebergs in it. I figured seeing icebergs floating in the lake would be pretty cool.

It was, but that wasn’t even the highlight of the trip. The highlight was the walk there. The trail makes a quick ascent right at the start, then levels out to a more gradual incline so that the last few miles let the gorgeous views take your breath away, instead of the hills. As I approached Iceberg Lake, I had the distinct feeling that I was about to happen upon Rivenedell, with the river flowing over small waterfalls and wildflowers everywhere. Bear grass covered steep hillsides above me. The trail looked forward to the mountains and back at the valley we’d just climbed through, so both the walk in and out were beautiful. This is my favorite hike I’ve gotten to do this year.

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Iceberg Lake

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Bear grass and the cliffs of insanity!!

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Bear grass along the trail leaving the lake

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More bear grass

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Also bear grass

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The Rivendell-esque approach to the lake, feat. Bear Grass

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Cindy dipping her feet in some super warm water. There was bear grass behind us.

Cobalt Lake

Today I had the day off, and since I was pretty sure I didn’t work until 2 tomorrow, I thought, “Hey, I’ll go for a hike on the east side of the park, camp there, and then take the Going to the Sun Road back tomorrow.”

Luckily I checked my schedule before I left and discovered that I actually work at 11. So, instead of a camping retreat, I just drove an hour and a half to the Two Medicine area and hiked to Cobalt Lake.

Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite hike ever. It’s pretty, but not spectacular like so many of the hikes in Glacier are. Still, I think it was exactly the hike I needed to be on today. Just being outside, on a trail that wasn’t crowded and was full of my favorite wildflower (Indian Paintbrush) and shallow water crossings was perfect.

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The whole hike was full of meadows like these.

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Like a trampoline, but sketchier.

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Rockwell Falls.

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I also met another solo female hiker, which is always fun. She was probably a few years younger than me and starts work in the park on Monday. She’s headed to New Zealand in October for a year, so we chatted about that for a while. After she left, I ate my dinner and watched the lake for a while. A marmot crossed the creek and walked within 10 feet of me to nibble some bear grass.

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Hello, friend!

It started raining just as it was time to leave. Luckily, I’d packed my warm jacket and leggings, and the rain was intermittent anyways so I didn’t get even a little uncomfortable. It did make the mountains look really cool with the shadows from the evening sun. It also gave me a great excuse to stop for hot chocolate on my way back home. Oh, darn 🙂

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Scenic Point at Two Medicine

I had yesterday off, so I decided to go to East Glacier. I decided to leave no later than 8 am, so naturally, I rolled out of West Glacier at around 10:30.

Because of my late start, I figured I’d just make it a scouting trip and see what the area looked like, maybe visit an information center, but definitely no hiking.

DSC02073.JPGMy first stop was at Running Eagle Falls. Pretty neat, and only .3 miles up the trail, so, like, it’s not even a hike.

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Running Eagle Falls, near the Two Medicine entrance to Glacier National Park. It’s a super easy walk.

I proceeded to Two Medicine Lake and ate my lunch at a super windy picnic bench, drove to the end of the road, and turned around to go home.

And then I saw a sign that said “Scenic Point.” Which usually is a pullover spot, maybe a short walk, right? I decided to stop and investigate.

By the time I saw the sign that said it was a 3.1 mile hike to the scenic point, I already had my backpack and boots on. I didn’t want to insult them by turning back, and I still had a few hours before I really needed to turn around, so I went up.

It was awesome. The trail followed a creek through and canyon for a bit before taking switchbacks up above the treeline. There was a section of bleached trees that reminded me of Gondor, and views of Two Medicine Lake and the mountains beyond. You could also look east to see the views beyond the Continental Divide.

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The view east from the top. Someone was quoting the Lion King here. It was me.

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“They guard it because they have hope.”

One of the most fun parts was when I came across a mountain goat. He was eating pine needles near the top of the trail, and continued doing so as I stood a few feet from him for about 5 minutes watching. His neck looked like he’s had a rough spring, but it was still really fun. Here’s a link to a video of him eating if you’re wanting something cute/have kids and want them to sit still for 1.5 minutes:

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Majestic.

I really wanted to make it to the advertised scenic point and figured I was within a few minutes of it, but then I came to a snow patch on a steep scree slope. There were other hikers who had crossed the first portion of it and were clearly trying to decide if they could make the second half without plummeting a half-mile to their doom. I looked at it and thought, “Nah, I like being alive.” Nevertheless, this hike was beautiful much the whole way up, and I completely recommend it to anyone looking to kill a few hours in the Two Medicine area.

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Not a lot of snow, but enough that I didn’t want to risk it.

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My high point for the day. #RiskAssessmentIsStillFun!!

Bicycling the Going to the Sun Road

In the spring, snowplows have already cleared the lower portions of the Going to the Sun Road, the main road that goes through Glacier Park. However, that doesn’t mean they allow cars on it yet. This year in particular, they’re doing a paving project that will keep the road closed through at least June 22. Which is awesome for me, because it means I was able to ride my bike on it without worrying about cars hitting me.

I started around 1 in the afternoon, because laziness. The first four miles only climb 156 feet, which was exciting for me because, honestly, I don’t ride my bike very often and long downhills scare me. It was gorgeous. Basically the whole time I was riding I was laughing and thinking how insane it is that God not only made this place, but he lets me live here.

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I got to Logan Creek after 4 miles and thought, “That was way easier than I thought! I wonder…” So I set off up the road. The next main viewpoint, The Loop, was 4 miles away and about 740 feet of elevation climb. I still did a lot better than I thought I would, but after a while I got super hungry and stopped in the middle of the road–reason number 117 why biking it with no cars is awesome.

As I pulled out some cheese and crackers, a guy rode past me and started laughing. “You’re so close!” he called out. “It’s literally right there!” He pointed up the rode.

“I know, but, food,” I said. I stuffed a cracker in my mouth, got back on my bike, and started crawling up the hill again.

It was indeed right there. The Loop is where the road does a hairpin turn to keep climbing up to Logan Pass. There’s a wide spot where I could eat, and bathrooms, so that was cool. I found a spot and had the rest of my cheese and crackers looking at Heaven’s Peak and the surrounding mountains.

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There was a guy from Newport, OR, who took my picture! Him and his wife travel full time in a campervan, and he was on his third attempt at getting to Logan Pass after having run out of time on his first two tries. 

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I then started my long descent. I was super worried. But it was awesome. There was wind in my face, which slowed me down a lot, and every quarter mile I’d come to an awesome viewpoint and have to stop anyways. I met a guy from France who was riding his bike from Alaska to South America with a friend, except his friend broke his hand and had to stay in Whitefish for a while.

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There’s a super sweet tunnel on the way that allows a river to go over the road!

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Also the tunnel has 2 balconies. NBD. 

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Many thanks to the random woman who took my picture and also shared my fears of seeing a bear by ourselves. She liked my idea of just singing loud at every corner.

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GAH IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!

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Red Rocks. You can’t really see it in this picture, but that’s the name of this spot so trust me, they’re red. 

I got back to my car about 4 hours after I started my bike ride. I felt super satisfied with how it went. I would totally recommend this trip to anyone who is in the area! I may or may not already be planning a trip for next week 🙂