I have owned a Day Hikes of Glacier National Park map guide for a year and a half. Today, we finally get to put it to use.
In the weeks leading up to our trip, I had identified the Grinnell Glacier hike and the Iceberg Lake hike as what I wanted to do with the family. Yesterday I visited with the Park Ranger about these hikes, and he regrettably informed me that both trails were closed due to snow. Dangit! But in the immortal words of KK, “You have to be flexible. If you don’t, it’ll kill ya.”
The Park Ranger recommended a couple of other hikes in their place, so one of those is what we tackled today – the Scenic Point trail. KK joined Stephanie, Mallory, Marissa and I on this hike. The rest of our travel party went off exploring with the intention of hitting a few sort hikes.
We are staying on the west side of Glacier National Park, and our hike was on the southeast corner. We left the house at 6:30 and drove 90 minutes to get to the trailhead. This hike starts near the Two Medicine campground. When we arrived, we were the second car in the parking lot. It was in the low 40s as we took off on our hike. There was some concern in our group if we had packed enough warm clothes. If you have been reading the previous day’s entries you may recall that Stephanie did not pack any long pants. But KK did offer her a base layer to wear on her legs and she took him up gratefully on that.
The description of this hike from our day hikes guide says “the hike starts out in some scrappy pines”, which we repeated often at the beginning of the hike. That is a very lighthearted description for what is classified as a Hard/Strenuous trail. It is about a 7.5 mile hike with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet.
Bears are a real danger when hiking at Glacier. KK bought some bear spray and we were thankful we did not have to use it today. We will take credit for that by singing loudly, shouting BEAR, and making noise on the trail. Bears don’t like to be startled.
We took lots of rest breaks, as this hike did not take long to start the incline. This was not a problem – it was a sunny day and the weather was cool and nice.
Not far at all up the trail was Appistoki Falls. A nice view as you make your way up the trail, although we are seeing only a partial view and it is from the top. There was no problem hearing the rushing water, though. That water was moving.
During one of our rest breaks while we were sitting down and looking at the scenery, we noticed there were close to a dozen mountain goats on top of the hill across from us. KK brought his binoculars so we passed them around to take a look. That was very rewarding, knowing that mountain goats are a predominant animal in the park.
About halfway up the trail, KK decided that he didn’t need to prove anything by going farther. Good call! He spent the rest of his day visiting with hikers as they were passing by, sometimes scaring them (unintentionally). Before KK moved back downhill out of the wind, we could see him visiting with other hikers. Later he moved out of the wind into a crevice and was practically invisible to the hikers unless he said something to him.
Later on the trail, two hikers caught up with us. We chatted with them for a few minutes. Their names were Matt and Mariah. I told them my Dad hiked with us for a while, and they said they had talked to him. Matt said, “Your name is Steven, and yours is Stephanie.” We thought that was hilarious, so we talked them into a selfie with us.
The wind was unbelievably strong today, as it is on the east side of the park. At one point, Stephanie and Marissa decided they had had enough fun, and headed back down the trail. Mallory and I kept chugging along.
We made it to the top after 3 hours of hiking. What a feeling! Even though it had been windy all the way up the trail, it was dangerously windy at the top. We would not get closer than 20 feet to the edge. And we did not feel comfortable standing fully upright either. I crouched a lot while we were up there.
As windy as it was, while we were still up there, the wind died suddenly down to nothing. We decided to get a little bit closer to the edge than we had felt comfortable before earlier. Which was still not very close!
On the way back down the trail, Mallory had a very graceful fall where I’m not even sure she hit the ground. But we heard at the bottom of the trail that Stephanie fell twice, and one of those times she rolled several times. She came out of it with a bloody leg, but seems no worse for the wear.
Every time Mallory and I would meet someone on the trail heading up, we would talk for a minute. They would typically ask if we made it to the top and how long did it take. When we mention that my Dad was down the hill, nearly everybody had a story. One couple mentioned that they did not see him until he said, “I don’t mean to scare you”, which of course scared them.
More importantly, Stephanie and Marissa ran into some Bighorn Sheep on the trail. Fortunately, when they heard Steph’s camera clicking, they decided to go off trail.
We were surprised with how few hikers we saw today on the trail. Mallory counted less than 20 hikers the whole day.
When Mallory and I made it to the parking lot, KK was there to greet us. Big hugs! The hike took us 3 hours to get to the top, and another 90 minutes down.
The three of us drove over to the bathroom at Two Medicine, where we eventually ran into Stephanie and Marissa at the gift shop. It was a this point, that we figured out that I had forgot my wallet. And also figured out that nobody in our car had brought a drivers license!
On our way back home, we passed a giant spoon out front of a business in East Glacier. I mentioned to the car that it was the world’s largest purple spoon, and was ordered to return immediately.
We drove back to the house at Hungry Horse and chilled until the rest of our crew arrived. They had also visited the east side of the park today.
Scott, Erin, Ellery and PK had a big day! They had intended to take in a few short hikes, but the extreme wind didn’t cooperate with those plans. Scott learned that the east side of the park always has much higher winds than the west wide, and that the St. Mary’s area is like a funnel for the wind. It is even worse in that area.