Day 4, July 19, 2018
Today was day 2 in Glacier National Park! I got up at 7, and got ready quickly and skedaddled at 7:30 am after accidentally setting off my car alarm… Oops! Sorry campers! You know you wanted to be up early to hike!
That morning I went to do the Avalanche Lake hike – it was 4.8 miles round-trip. This is a busy hike, for good reason, because it is beautiful, so go early and pack your patience to get a parking spot.
For me, the hike to Avalanche Lake is very much like the hikes at home, a dirt trail with roots and big rocks along the side of the trail. It is a moderate hike, mostly in the shade – which was perfect on a hot day! At many points along the trail you can see evidence of past avalanches and landslides that have taken down more than a few trees. It is not unusual in these mountain areas.
The hike is fairly popular and I could see and/or hear other hikers at most points on the trail. I was surprised by the number of people that didn’t have bear spray – given that Glacier National Park is heavily populated by grizzlies and given the fact that the bear I saw the day before didn’t seem scared of humans AT ALL, I felt more comfortable carrying it, even with the people around. I also have a bear bell on my backpack, which jingles to warn animals I’m coming. If you hike alone, they say you should talk or sing to yourself, but let’s be real, who wants to do that for several miles in the wilderness? My bear bell seemed to do the trick – which was apparently to get the attention of every man within a half mile radius, many of whom commented on it or asked what it was. So there you go – if you want to meet a man, consider getting a bear bell? Don’t hike? Maybe just wear it around the office!? Or at the grocery store? I digress.
The lake was gorgeous! It was so clear and you could see the fallen trees at the bottom from past avalanches. I walked at the edge of the lake for a bit and sat and had a snack and just enjoyed the scenery. Even though I wasn’t alone, it was very peaceful just sitting alongside that lake.
After I got back to the car, I made a peanut butter and honey sandwich and walked over to the creek near the parking area and sat on the stone wall to eat.
After lunch, I drove down to the Lake McDonald Lodge and wandered down to the lake shore. Lake McDonald, at 10 miles long and 500 feet deep, is the largest lake in the park. It is beautiful with the colorful rocks on its bottom, and the mountains rising above. The valley where Lake McDonald sits was carved by the glaciers that existed here, and the valleys between the mountains are also evidence of glacial activity. The lodge itself was constructed between 1913 and 1914 in the Swiss Chalet style. I love these old lodges! I parked myself in the shade, and even dozed off on the shore until some bratty kids came along and were knocking down all the cute little rock cairns that people had built. I watched the boat tours go by – one day I would like to take one, but I just wasn’t feeling in the mood that day.
On my way back to camp, I stopped by the Alberta Visitor Center and checked it out. Glacier National Park is so close to Canada it makes sense for them to have a Visitor’s Center there! I have said it before, but I really want to see the Canadian parks north of Glacier! There is never enough time to do everything though.
I also visited the historic Belton Train Station. Belton was one of the stations where trains came to deliver visitors to the park in its early days. It was constructed in 1910 by the Great Northern Railroad and enlarged in 1935; the same railroad also built the Belton Chalet Hotel across the road. It would have been so cool to have the experience back then!
I went back to camp and relaxed that evening. I deserved to take a break since I had logged over 20,000 steps! I also spent some time talking to the young guys at the campsite next door to me. They were from Savannah, GA and Kansas and had met there for a guys trip to Glacier. It was nice to have some social interaction and I enjoyed my time sitting around their campfire. And apparently both of them slept through my car alarm that morning – whew! It was a nice end to another great day!