Glacier National Park, Montana
July 28, 2012 - August 4, 2012
Hiking Glacier's classic trails with a local naturalist
Experiencing both the solitude and the excitement that only whitewater rafting can provide
Staying in historic National Park lodges that have welcomed guests since the early 1900s
Watching for bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzlies
Immersing ourselves in a landscape of jagged peaks, glaciers, wildflowers, and meadows
Glacier National Park is truly one of the crown jewels of the National Park System. It has long been famous for having more glaciers than anywhere in the lower 48, and while there has been significant glacial melting in the past 30 years, they are still magnificent. The park is also known for an astounding array of jagged peaks, wildflowers, and abundant wildlife. We'll spend the first four days of our week-long excursion hiking some of Glacier's classic trails, returning each night to one of the magnificent historic lodges that have been welcoming visitors for 100 years. Because the Park has a short hiking season and is a very popular destination, we will not find the solitude on the trails. We will, however, find it on our overnight raft trip on the Flathead River, along with lots of laughing and thrills. Please join us for a week of fun, challenge, and beauty during our week in Glacier National Park.
This trip is for:
any woman in very good physical condition who can hike for 7 to 10 miles in mountainous terrain with elevation changes. Women who have significant fear of heights or problems with altitudes of 6,000 - 8,000 feet should strongly consider choosing another trip or calling us before signing up. We have rated the trip as 3 or 4 because there are some days with possible longer and shorter options; please do not underestimate the fitness required for this trip. Rating: 1 2   5 THIS TRIP IS FULL - Please contact us to be placed on the waitlist.
July 28: Our trip starts today at the Lake MacDonald Lodge at 5:30 pm. We'll start getting to know each other and review our plans for the trip, before sharing our first dinner. After dinner some of us may be ready for an early bedtime in our rustic cabins, while others might choose to attend an evening slideshow or lounge on the veranda. In any case a good night's sleep will help prepare us for a vigorous day of hiking tomorrow. (D)
July 29: After a hearty breakfast we'll meet our local guide, a naturalist who knows the geology, flora, and fauna, and can answer our many questions about this unique landscape. Our hike today is on the "Garden Wall" section of the Highline Trail. Starting out on the famous Going To The Sun Road, we gain substantial elevation as we drive to Logan Pass, our trailhead. As a result of this initial elevation gain, the trail along the ridge offers a rare combination of moderate hiking, with only one significant climb to Haystack Butte (one switch back and an elevation gain of 300 feet over the course of just under half a mile) and exquisite views of the Continental Divide. Include abundant wildflowers in full bloom and the possibility of sighting bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzly bears into the mix, and it is no wonder that this is one of the most popular trails in the park. Haystack Pass, which is about halfway to Granite Park Chalet, offers sweeping panoramic views and is a great place for a break; it is also a good turnaround point for those wanting a shorter hike today (about 6 miles). Those who continue on will then start climbing gradually up to reach the high point of the trail at 7,440 feet. The views of the Livingston Range are incredible, with Heaven's Peak dominating the skyline and Mt. Cannon, Mt. Oberlin and Swiftcurrent Mountain also providing spectacular views. The trail then starts gradually descending to reach Granite Park Chalet in 7.5 miles where a cold drink provides a welcome break. From here it's all downhill (2300 feet to be exact) as we hike 4 miles down to the Road.
Regardless of which option you choose, we will all get together again for dinner and the first of two nights at Many Glacier Hotel. Our lakeside lodge rooms at this classic National Park lodge will provide welcome rest after today's classic hike. (B, L, D)
July 30: Today’s hike starts quite close to our hotel! After another hearty breakfast we start the Iceberg Trail to the aptly named Iceberg Lake. Surrounded by 3,000 foot cliffs and untouched by direct sunlight in the winter, a large amount of snow and ice accumulates each winter which slowly melts throughout the summer. Spectacular scenery, colorful wildflowers, and the possibility of grizzly bear sightings (this area is occasionally closed when sightings are too frequent) make this another Glacier Park classic hike. Although the first half-mile is somewhat steep, the path the elevation gain the becomes more gradual. Though the total elevation gain is 1200 feet over 4.7 miles one way, it doesn’t really feel like it. After enjoying a picnic and a chance to dip our feet in the frigid lake, we return the same way we came.
After dinner, those who choose can explore the other half of Glacier: night skies that may be more brilliant than any you have seen. If you enjoy star gazing, this is an experience not to be missed. (B, L)
July 31: We pack up this morning in preparation for moving our lodging for the next two nights. Today's hike, however, is to nearby Grinnell Glacier. Starting fairly flat, it traverses the shoreline of Swiftcurrent Lake and then Josephine Lake. After that it gradually climbs for a total of 1600 feet over 4 miles, ending at Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier at the base of the Continental Divide. Traveling through open countryside, our hiking is rewarded with stunning views of Lower Grinnell Lake, Angel Wing, Mt. Gould, and Grinnell Falls. Again, wildflowers are abundant and sightings of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzlies are all possible.
The trail is not only one of the most stunning in the Park, it sadly showcases the ongoing loss of the glaciers from which the Park gets its name. Upper Grinnell Lake is a fairly new lake that is being formed by the melting waters of a shrinking Grinnell Glacier (more than 40% over the past thirty years). Like all glacial lakes the water is milky white in color and is a rejuvenating place in which to very briefly dip ones feet. We retrace our steps for a total of 12 miles. A 1.5 hour van ride brings us to Glacier Park Lodge on the east side of the park, another of the venerable Park lodges and our lodging for the next 2 nights. (L, D)
August 1: Our hiking destination today is Upper Two Medicine Lake at the foot of the Continental Divide. This is a less traveled part of the Park as it is off the Going to the Sun Road. It also has a unique weather pattern, receiving much less rain than the western side and thus lacks the lush vegetation found there. The beauty is no less breath taking however.
There are a couple of options today: the longer option is to follow the north shore of Two Medicine Lake, reaching Twin Falls in 3.8 miles (75 ft elevation gain). Twin Falls is what it sounds like - a double waterfall that rushes down the mountain side. After stopping to gaze and take pictures, we continue for another 1.2 miles to Upper Two Medicine Lake (350 ft elevation gain). A pleasant way to shorten this hike is to take a scenic boat cruise across Two Medicine Lake, leaving a 0.9 mile (one way) hike to Twin Falls from the boat dock and 2.2 miles to the upper lake. We'll return to the same lodge tonight, perhaps enjoying a dip in the swimming pool. (B, L).
August 2 and 3: For our last 2 days at the Park we completely change gears, giving our legs a rest and our arms a workout as we embark on an overnight rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead, the southern boundary of Glacier National Park. Our exact put in point will depend on the water level. However, you can count on exciting whitewater and pristine wilderness scenery, a scenic camping spot along the river, and hearty and delicious meals.
Most, but not all, of the whitewater occurs on the last day when you raft through John Stevens Canyon. The rapids are rated class II and class III making it a fun and splashy adventure. Names like Screaming Right Hand Turn, Pinball, Jaws and Could-Be-Trouble give you a sense of just how much fun we'll have! We'll be off the river in the late afternoon and back to West Glacier and then on to our lodging in in Whitefish and a final farewell dinner (B, L, D both days).
August 4: There is a complimentary breakfast this morning and shuttle to the airport so you are free to leave any time you choose.