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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hike to Grinnell Glacier

If not for an argument over a campsite, I would not have gotten to go on this hike. And our new friends made the whole experience more fun.

It all started about 7:00 A.M. after Bob (my friend who had flown from Houston especially to fish at Glacier NP) and I had quickly broken our commando camp in the Lewis and Clark National Forest near Cut Bank Campground,  and rushed on up to the Many Glaciers Campground. Cars were already driving around, looking for an empty campsite.  I finally realized that you had to find a campsite with today's day on the post slip, and then pay for it, while the people that were leaving were still in it.

So Bob and I found a campsite, talked to the people packing up, and then went to get our reservation envelope.  But just as we were putting it up, another couple drove up and told us that they had already purchased this site.  But, they added, the next site over is also going to be available.  So we filled out the paperwork for that camp site.  However, somehow, I managed to read the number as 52, rather then 102.  And about that time our original antagonists were back, and this time were asking if they could just park in our campsite driveway,  since they slept in their vehicle.

We agreed to let them, and started chatting. I told them Bob wanted to go fishing.  Karen said Tim loved to fish and had his gear with him.  I really wanted to go climb the Grinnell Glacier trail but Bob wasn't comfortable going off by himself to fish so I had planned to go with him. Karen said she really wanted to climb the same trail so the obvious idea was to let the guys go fishing together while Karen and I climbed the trail.

We agreed to get ready and Karen and Tim went off to breakfast.  Bob and I decided to go eat breakfast at the little restaurant also, as soon as we met with a ranger and straightened out my mistake on the number of the campsite.  We immediately saw Tim and Karen and joined them for breakfast and spent a short, but enjoyable time getting to know them.

Then we went our separate ways. Karen and I had a wonderful time walking the trail. This trail can be shortened by taking two tour boats, but we walked the entire trail.  We figured we had done about 11.5 to 12 miles by the time we came back and done 1840 feet of elevation gain. ( or only 1660 feet - the information differs) The trail distances are never exactly what you walk because there can be up to a half mile or so of walking before you get to the official trail head sign.

Karen near the trailhead

View from early in the hike

Looking over a pond to Lake Josephine and the tour boat

Most of the time the climb was gradual

The alpine meadows were still in beautiful bloom

Looking back at hikers contemplating coming through a shower

To the left is the falls and to the right is a drop off - and that water is COLD

View water falls coming off the glacier

More wildflowers

Close view of Salamander Glacier - it used to be the top of Grinnell Glacier

Karen enjoying the view near the end of the trail

Me with Grinnell Glacier and its lake in the background

Karen by Upper Grinnell  Lake - note the ice floes in the background


Lower Grinnell Lake, Lake Josephine, and Swiftcurrent Lake (from near to far)
Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier used to all be one big glacier. But now Grinnell glacier is 90% melted. A ranger told me that they expect all the glaciers to be gone by 2030.   So get your visit in soon.  This trail usually doesn't open until around mid July.  So, if you want to hike it, come later in the summer.

Karen and I got back to camp to find the guys talking with a volunteer ranger. She said that we had taken down a new paper and put up ours and two girls really owned this site. But someone else had left late and there was still a campsite available. We hadn't put up our tents and they were soaking wet.  Bob had just hung them to dry when we found out we couldn't have the site. But we rehung them and they were soon dry and we got camp set up.

The guys had a lot of fun fishing, although they only caught little bullhead trout,  and they also enjoyed each other's company. That evening, we  all took some snacks and went to the Swiftcurrent Inn and had beer and snacks on the front deck, while watching the sun go behind the mountains. There, we met another couple that had chatted with Karen and Tim the night before, when they had camped in the hotel parking lot. We had a good time visiting with all of them.

Bob and I were tired enough that we came back to camp around nine o'clock and were very soon asleep.  It was a wonderful day.  I love solitude, but also love company.  This was the first time I'd had friends on any of my excursions up here, so this was a very special day.

On the personal front, I'm getting ready to leave for about a month.  Bob the Second is riding a Greyhound bus up to Missoula and I'll pick him up early Wednesday.  I planned to go help collect bugs for the  biocontrol  of  spotted knapweed, but that collection has been rescheduled for Thursday.  So Bob and I will probably leave either today or real early Thursday morning, heading to Grand Teton National Park, and points east.  I'll spend two weeks in the Boundary Waters with  Bob of this blog, my best friend, Natalie, and a friend of Bob's before heading back here for a few more weeks to work at the Roundup and the Big Sit.

So expect spotty blogs until after September 24.