Flathead Ranger Station

With rain in East Glacier and our need to head to Kalispel for our last night we opted to hike in West Glacier on the west slope of the Continental Divide where the weather was forecast to be dry and a good ten degrees warmer than East Glacier. We chose the Flathead Ranger Trail to give us a close up pespective of the Flathead River.

The weather was as projected and we had good last hike through burned forest area that provided a full 360 panoramic view of all the surrounding mountains including the Teakettle Mountains. The hike also provided a birdseye view of the confluence of the two forks of the Flathead River. Also, a great birding area and we saw many bluebirds along the trail above the river.

The Flathead Ranger trail is less well know so we had the trail to ourselves for the entirety of the eight mile roundtrip.

A nice finish to our week of hiking.

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Browning, MT

With cold temperatures and rain showers in the forecast we elected not to hike today. We took a road trip over to Browning to visit the Museum of the Plains Indians. The museum is located within the Blackfeet Tribal Indian Reservation which spans approximately 1.5 million acres. The Blackfeet Indians owned the land that now constitutes Glacier National Park until it was purchased by the federal government in 1895.

The museum has many artifacts from various Plains Indian tribes – clothing, jewelry, weapons, tools, household items and musical instruments. The displays were very informative and interesting.

We met several Blackfeet artists that were working at the museum today. A jewelry maker named Rene Bear Medicine and a young artist named Jeremy (self taught).

From Browning we looped around to East Glacier where we stopped for a late lunch at the Two Medicine Grill. We then drove back to St. Mary on MT 49 known locally as Looking Glass Hill Road. The road provides tremendous views of Two Medicine Lake and the valley below when the weather is clear. It is a curvy mountain road that is closed from November through April because of snow and frequent landslides. MT 49 is cattle country and we encountered many cattle on and along the road which along with the many hairpin turns makes it a slow but exhilarating trip.

A relaxing day and a chance to rest our tired legs.

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Iceberg Lake

A sunny and cool day with no wind. A perfect day for our longest hike of the trip – 10.4 miles. The Iceberg Lake trailhead is located at the very end of Many Glacier Road. From there we climbed up to the lake which sits at 6200 feet. The entire hike provides spectacular vistas of mountain peaks, glaciers and the valley to the west. We crossed numerous waterfalls along the way and were fortunate to see several Mule Deer up close on the trail as well as Big Horn Sheep grazing above the trail.

Mt Wilbur and Iceberg Peak rise 3000 feet from the lake surface forming a cirque which surrounds the lake making for a most impressive experience at the end of a long climb.

We met a lovely British couple – Tony and Hilary – at the trailhead parking lot after completing the hike. They have been touring the west for the last three weeks – starting in Seattle and driving east through Washington and Idaho before finishing their trip in Montana. We have met several retired couples on this vacation who are on extended road trips and enjoying the experience immensely. Their experiences continue to fuel our desire to be “On the Road”.imageimage

Hidden Lake

Drove to Logan Pass on the Continental Divide. Hiked from visitors center to Hidden Lake overlook, then proceeded down to the lake, took a lunch break and headed back up as the weather changed to hail and gusty winds. A grizzly bear and her two cubs were sighted by other hikers, but we were too late to catch a glimpse of them. We did, however, spot two hoary marmots. Continued down the Going to the Sun Road to St. Mary. Stopped along the way to view Jackson Glacier.imageimageimageimage

Apgar Lookout

A fairly strenuous eight mile hike with a 1900 foot elevation gain. A mix of sun and clouds on the ascent with a brief hail storm thrown in for good measure.  Did not see a single person for the first 90 minutes of the climb and had the lookout to ourselves before some other hikers arrived. A picnic lunch provided a much needed rest before heading back to the trail head.

Heading up to Logan Pass tomorrow to hike to Hidden Lake. After the hike we will complete the drive on The Going to the Sun Road and spend the next three nights in St Mary.

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Howe Lake

A shorter hike on the morning of day two to beat rain showers forecasted for the afternoon. The trailhead is accessed via the one lane dirt Inside Fork Road – an adventure in it’s own right!

The trail runs through an area of forest burned in the North Fork during the 2001 Moose fire and really illustrates the power of nature. Howe Lake is actually two small lakes at the terminus of the Howe Lake Trail. Also, Grizzly Bear territory!