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My Backpacking Adventures at Glacier National Park began after seeing Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. This is just a small part of a longer trip I went on in October 2003. I made it all the way to Northwest Montana from Denver, CO!
Glacier National Park Entrance
When I was hiking in Yellowstone National Park, I came upon this couple who told me to go into the western entrance of Glacier National Park if I was going there later. They never said why I should go into this entrance only that I would not be sorry. Well I found out that the western side of Glacier was on fire! Apparently a wildfire that was caused by Lightning was burning and at that time, the fire was left to burn out by itself since it was caused by nature. Had someone set this fire by accident, it would have been put out.
Incredible Fall Colors!
I drove to Lake McDonald and under normal conditions this would have been an incredible view of the lake and mountains but because of the smoke, I could hardly see anything!
Smoke Filled Mountains, Lake McDonald
Glacier National Park on Fire!
Well I drove further into the park and was trying to get away from the smoke. I eventually got far enough away that I could stop and do some backpacking. I found Trail of the Cedars nature trail that led to Avalanche Lake and I thought I would give it a shot. Since I was alone I could not venture too far because I was, according to the sign, in Bear Country! So I hiked out a short distance from the road with my Bear spray on my belt that I had paid $48 for, just to have a little peace of mind in case a Bear came up to me!
Trail of the Cedars
After leaving the Trail of the Cedars nature walk, I headed up the Going-to-the-Sun road, through a tunnel and the further I drove, the cleaner the air became. This time of year the Fall Colors are just amazing!
The mountains here were formed by Glaciers, hence the name of the park, and some still exist. The valleys are bowl shaped and smooth. This road, from what I know, is cleared in late summer of all the snow that accumulates up here in Fall, Winter, and Spring. We are so far north here that the summer season is very short. I soon arrive at Logan Pass, my final destination, high atop this park.
I check out the visitor center and go outside where I discover the Hidden Lake Nature Trail. It is 6 miles round trip and because it is so late in the day I decide to return early in the morning and do the hike. I drive just outside the east-side gate of the park and get a motel room.
I drive back up to Logan Pass Visitor Center (sits on the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet) the next day and get ready to do my big hike. Thank goodness I brought plenty of water with me. They are already winterizing this place in October by shutting off all the water up here! I soon start out and there seems to be quite a few people doing this hike. For backpacking adventures, I guess it's a very popular trail!
View from Logan Pass Visitor Center
View from Hidden Lake Trail Start
When I start out on my backpacking adventures, I find a really nice trail that leads me up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. From here I can see Hidden Lake and the smoke from the fire in the western side of the park.
Hidden Lake Overlook, Smoke in the West
I continue on my backpacking adventures and I come upon these mountain goats. They are so close I could pet one if I wanted. I try to remember that they are wild animals and may not like being approached! I move on and see some red rocks lying on the ground.
Sand and Solid Rock Above
Above me I see sand and solid rock layers. Below me is Hidden Lake and Pine trees with rocks spread all over the ground.
Hidden Lake and Pine trees with Rocks
I continue walking down now and I look across to what I believe to be Reynolds Mountain at 9,125 ft.
I finally make it to Hidden Lake and I decide to walk around it for a bit. I have to watch my step so as not to fall into the lake!
I made It!
I'm walking and all of a sudden I hear something moving around in the trees behind me! I start to get a little worried remembering I'm in Bear Country. So I begin moving rather quickly back over to the trail and whatever is in the trees seems to be moving along beside me! I get to the trail and I'm relieved to see that it is a man and his two sons. Thank goodness! My heart was racing.
I told him what I thought and he said he could tell I seemed to be a little spooked. Well, he was kind enough to let me tag along with him and his two sons on the way back which turned out well for them because they did not have any water! Please, if you are going on backpacking adventures, take water with you! I gave them one of my water bottles because they were trying to drink the water flowing from the mountain which could make you very sick if not treated. I was having a tough time keeping up with them on the way back up the trail. I was very winded and the man asked me if I smoked? And I said no. Turns out they're from Brazil where they have high elevation and I'm from Florida where the elevation is almost at sea level. They were used to the thin air. I was not!
Return to the Visitor Center
On returning to the Visitor Center I could see the poles around the parking lot and just how high they are! These poles show the snow plow where the edge of the road is. Man, the snow really can get deep up here in winter!
Well I made it back and had a great time. What a wonderful hike! I have to come back here again sometime when the park isn't burning and see how the western side looks. I also would like to see Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada. I had tried to cross over to see the park since it is connected to Glacier on the U.S./Canadian border as the International Peace park.
I had made the mistake of telling the authorities at the border crossing that I wasn't working and their computers were down so they could not check my bank account to see that I indeed had some money as I told them. The nearest bank was back 50 miles and I didn't want to go back and get a balance slip to prove my cash position! As a result, they would not let me cross into Canada since they have a Social System and must take care of anyone in their country.
Glacier is a wonderful place for backpacking adventures, so if you get a chance to go there, enjoy! I did!
For more backpacking adventures, another great trail to go on is the Highline Trail. I did not know about this trail when I was there, but if I get back that way, I plan on hiking it!
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