Glacier Campground to Many Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park, MT
Monday, September 11, 2006 … 11 Camper Miles – Total 7,366
41 deg at 8:00, sunny all day, hit low 80s
Belatedly, we’d figured out that the east side of the park was a better place for additional hiking opportunities. So we decided to go there for a couple of days. It would seem easy to simply take the camper across the Going to the Sun Road. But, that route is restricted, not allowing any trailers or any vehicles more than 21 ft long overall. Since we flunked the test, we had to drive around the park. Of course, it was much clearer today with forest fire smoke much less evident. Just our luck!
The road around the park parallels a busy railroad route. We listened to trains all day and all night long while camped in West Glacier and finally got to see them during this drive. Many freight trains were mainly made up of container cars with containers stacked two high, something we’re not used to seeing. Amtrak also uses the route, stopping at all the traditional grand hotels along the way and it is quite common to meet people in the park who are traveling by train. We should also note that speed limits, even on narrow, two-lane roads, are often 65-70 mph.
Along the drive, we crossed the continental divide yet one more time. At this particular spot there is also a monument to Teddy Roosevelt, an obelisk-like miniature of the Washington monument. We also stopped at the historic Isaac Walton Hotel in Essex. This small hotel was originally built to house railroad workers who spent the entire winter clearing snow from the railroad tracks. They started out using tents but it was just too cold. Management relented and built one of their standard pattern hotels and used it for tourists during the summer for supplemental income. It still houses some railroad workers. But, mainly, it caters to tourists, railroad buffs and fine dining fans. In East Glacier we stopped by the Lodge of the same name. The hotel has the usual, huge, rough-hewn lobby and is fronted by beautiful gardens. For you hunters, there are lots of stuffed trophy game heads in the lobby.
We set up at Many Glacier Campground. It happened that the site we chose was right across from Dave & Carol Radich who had a Chalet camper, very similar in design to our Aliner. We introduced ourselves and toured each others’ campers. After lunch we headed out to walk the Red Rock Falls Trail. We ran into Dave & Carol along the way and walked with them for a while. We’d planned to turn around at the falls but decided to continue along the trail. We met some other folks including some who’d seen a grizzly and her cub near the trail. We all wanted to see the bear but preferred not to meet the pair alone. So, we ended up all walking together! We never saw the grizzlies but ended up going past Bull Head Lake to the base of Swiftcurrent Pass. It was a fun time, getting to talk to a bunch of nice folks.
Returning to camp, we did a veggie stir-fry over rice noodles. Afterwards, we joined Dave & Carol around the campfire at their site.
Many Glacier Campground
Tuesday, September 12, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 7,366
Sunny all day, low 80s
We have been very lucky. It has been unseasonably warm these past few days at Glacier. But that is forecast to change with snow showers predicted for Thursday and forecast highs in the 40s. We took advantage of one more warm day to hike to Iceberg Lake. The trail climbs 1,200 ft over 4.8 miles. The climb sounded like it could be daunting but the climb is very gradual and is easy walking. The lake is a popular destination and, once again, we found ourselves in the company of other hikers. The trail passes an attractive waterfall and ascends a classic glacial valley, looking down on a stream meandering through boggy valleys. We were told that moose frequent the valley, but we didn’t see any. We were also told that bears frequent the first part of the trail. We didn’t see any but we must have just missed them because hikers who followed us were delayed as they waited for a black bear and her cub to vacate the trail.
Arriving at Iceberg Lake was a treat. The lake is surrounded by vertical walls rising nearly 3,000 feet on three sides. In the spring there are usually small icebergs that break off from the ice pack that borders it’s southwestern side. The water is colored blue by glacial flour and, as the sun illuminated the lake, the color became more prominent. It is beautiful! Also, we DID see mountain sheep high on the mountains bordering two sides of the lake. It is amazing they can climb those heights and can find enough to graze on to survive!
Back at camp, we showered and then Bill read while Sandy checked out Many Glacier Lodge. We made a chicken stir-fry for dinner. It had been a perfect day!