September 29, 2008

Sweet Agony

Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I am in a lot of pain after our big day hike on Saturday. 13 miles isn't a huge hiking day, but it's big enough to cause some serious soreness that lasts for a while. We decided to finally tackle the famous Highline Trail, which starts at Logan Pass and follows the ridge of the Continental Divide for about 7 miles before descending to the Going to the Sun Road. We got an early-ish start, as evidenced by the sunrise photo above, and were able to hit the trail by 9:30am.

The first, oh, seven miles of the hike were great. The trail to this point is very easy, almost a stroll, with little elevation gained or lost. So, as you might imagine, this part of our trip went quite well. And the miles just seemed to fly under our feet.

While we didn't see any grizzlies, there was certainly evidence of their presence.

Long-leaved Arnica
Arnica longifolia

When we hit the seven mile mark, we opted to take a little side trip up to the edge of the Continental Divide, to an overlook of Grinnell Glacier. The sign said it was only 0.6 miles. But I'm here to tell you that it was the longest 0.6 miles I've ever walked. I think the trail gained almost 1,500 feet in that half mile. It was brutal.

Here's the divide, with the Atlantic drainage on the left and over the edge, while the Pacific drainage is on the "gentle" slope down to the right.

Grinnell Glacier can be seen in the center and a bit to the right, at the base of the large cliff in the background. In the foreground, near the bottom of the photo, is Salamander Glacier.

We weren't sure how far we actually wanted to hike, but figured we'd just go until we felt like turning around. Unfortunately (for my knee, at least), we didn't reach that point until we hit the 7 mile mark (and after the brutal hike to the overlook). At this point we faced a choice: hike the 7 miles back to Logan Pass, or cut two miles off and continue along the trail, but then face a descent of nearly 2,500 feet and the need to hitchike back to the pass to get our car. For some reason, the prospect of hiking another seven miles seemed much worse than a mere five.

This is a good shot of the first seven miles of the hike. I highlighted the trail (as best as I could) with red, including the side trail up to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. You might want to click on the image to see it bigger and get a better idea of what a seven mile hike actually looks like.

The highlight of the second half of our hike was passing the infamous "Granite Park Campground", site of the 1967 grizzly mauling made famous in the book "Night of the Grizzlies".

Overall, it was a tremendously enjoyable, yet exhausting trip. We were able to find a ride up to the pass in less than three minutes, which helped. If you ever want to plan a trip to Glacier National Park, I strongly recommend this hike. Just be prepared for a long day.

And in other news, we found out today that we will, in fact, get to live in park housing! Yay! No more having to beg landlords to allow our pets. You have no idea how much of a relief it is to no longer be in "housing limbo."


Anonymous said...

Will you be in the same house you are in now or will you move to another one???
hope your legs feel bettre from the hike!!

kippur said...

Great hike pics. Congrats on the house thing. I hiked seven miles yesterday too...but then I remembered I didn't.

birdchaser said...

I worked seasonal bird jobs in MT in 1994 and 1995. Man I miss that scenery, the bear scat, wildlife, and wide open places!

rickshaw said...

Thanks for great pics and posting. We were at Grinnel Glacier about two months ago, hiking from Many Glacier hotel.

As we headed south on our drive to Yellowstone, we could see the highline trail, and hope to return one day to hike it.

Cheers, and of course, GO OBAMA!

nina said...

Looks like a great hike!
Do you carry bear spray? I'd be a little too preoccupied to fully enjoy it with that obvious grizzly presence.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures and text. Thank you.

We repeat: did you carry your bear spary?

A friend of mine was hunting just north of YELL and was bit hard, tossed like a rag doll, and bit again (through his boot) by a grizzly bear on Sunday. He's OK.

We will continue to ask until an afirmative answer is received.

Bear spray?

Every hike.