Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top 5 US National Parks - #5 Glacier National Park

Over the course of the next couple weeks, I'm going to take some time going back through some of my old photos from trips Allyson and I have taken to the many beautiful national parks in the US. This won't be in order of my favorites, because I can't possibly pick a favorite. My friend, Garrett, will have a heyday with this post. He teases us that we only ever travel to national parks. It is true that I prefer wilderness to city adventures, but I do appreciate both. But it's in the wild that I feel connected to both nature and people. Like I'm part of something bigger. 

So here we go....#5 is Glacier National Park. It's so far away from where most of us live, which is probably why it's still so incredible. It is definitely worth being on your bucket list though. There are day hikes for those that don't want to backpack. The Going to the Sun Highway through the park might be the most beautiful road in the world. (We'll see...I have a feeling we'll see some pretty spectacular roads in New Zealand.) But it's the more remote places that really blew me away. Here are some of the highlights from the trip we took to Glacier with our friends Jess and Dani:

For our first two nights, we camped at Two Medicine Campground. We took a great hike up Pitamakan Pass. If the weather had cooperated, we would've continued the loop to Dawson Pass. Unfortunately, we got freaked out by some creepy clouds and thunder and thought it was best to turn around. Still an amazing hike though with some of the best views I've ever seen!

Take a swim, if you dare, in Old Man Lake. It took our breath away, but felt so refreshing!

 Bear Grass (Interesting fact: These flowers are closely related to lilies!)

I don't know what this one is called, but he looks straight out of The Lorax to me. (Another interesting fact: I was the Lorax in a middle school play.)

Pitamakan Overlook

Our next adventure started a little late in the day, because Allyson and I decided to re-trace a good portion of our Pitamakan Pass hike the next morning in search of my lost Oakley sunglasses. She had gotten them for me as a gift right before our trip. Unfortunately, after re-tracing to the last place I remember having them, we didn't find them. Then we still had 8.1 miles to hike to our campsite at Red Eagle Lake. 

This hike was incredible, despite the downpour for the second half of it. This whole forest burned down in 2006, and we were there in 2009. As you can see from the pictures, it still looked very much burned. But there was something truly incredible about all the wildflowers coming up beneath these dead trees. 

The storm is coming


We ended up setting up camp in the pouring rain and spending hours in our tents. However, the rain left during the night and left a beautiful day for us the following day. We left our stuff at Red Eagle Lake and hiked to Triple Divide Pass. This was the day we saw a moose and hiked 16 miles in Chacos or Crocs or Keen sandals because or hiking boots were still soaked. 

The morning after


Awesome swimming spot...jump in and let that water take you away. Super fun. 

Fleabane (This was taken with my first point and shoot camera. I'm not sure I've taken a better picture since.)

We hiked out the following morning and planned to spend the next two nights at Fish Lake campground on the other side of the park. This meant a gorgeous drive down the Going to the Sun Highway. The following day we hiked the acclaimed Highline Trail. This is a long day hike (11.6 miles to The Loop from the Visitor Center and then you take a shuttle back), but totally worth it. And get this, you can have a Diet Coke on the top at Granite Park Chalet. Check out what might as well be a Diet Coke advertisement below.  

Under the bridge

Obvious Glacier Action

 Grinnell Glacier can be seen if you take the Garden Wall hike straight up from the Highline Trail

 Psychedelic Paintbrush

That is the Chalet in the right top corner of the photo

Diet Coke Ad

How cute is this deer?

So many more stories could be told about this trip (for example, the fact that our car wouldn't start on the morning we had to leave to get Jess and Dani to the Missoula airport), but we'll save those for another time. We will be back to this amazing place, because we only saw a fraction of what is there to see. Thinking back on it tonight definitely has me wanting to go back. Adventure, anyone? 

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