From a distance, the peaks of Glacier appear jagged and intimidating. Staggering in their sharp edges and sheer size. Everything feels more intense here – the sun, the wind, the huge raindrops.
I was excited to experience Glacier. It’s our Northern most park in the Continental US so a little harder to get to and less frequented than some of the others. It’s known for the glacier carved peaks, the clear turquoise lakes and the abundant plant and animal life.
Of course I wanted to see a Glacier, it’s in the name after all. But it’s not as easy as you would think. Turns out with global warming only 25 glaciers remain here, down from 150 when Glacier first became a National Park. Scientists expect they all will have melted by 2030! Knowing this I felt even more awe when looking at Jackson Glacier. We did not have time for the 10 hour hike into Grinnell Glacier, designated one of the best hikes in the world. But it is now officially on the need to return and experience list.
Long ago glaciers created the park’s beautiful deep blue glacier lakes, McDonald, Saint Mary and Watertown. I was mesmerized by our time at Lake McDonald. The lake is 464 feet deep and absolutely clear. The native people called it “Sacred Dancing Lake.” No dancing for us, but some pretty awesome rock skipping!
The rocks themselves were beautiful colors of purple, red, green, yellow and white. Worn smooth and perfect for competitions!
After playing around the Lake we headed up Going to the Sun Road stopping at sites along the way. One favorite was the turquoise water of McDonald Falls.
I was frustrated and disapointed when we encountered the Road Closed sign at Avalanche Creek. Typically Going to the Sun is completely open by mid June but this had been an unusually harsh winter and late spring. But the blessing was that this caused us to slow down and walk on a trail we might have otherwise overlooked. The Trail of the Cedars takes you deep into a forest of cottonwoods, fir and cedars. You pass a stunning waterfall cut into a narrow gourge. You notice the moss and ferns and wild flowers.
It was nice going slow and appreciating the quiet beauty of the plants around us. They may not take your breath away like the majestic glaciers, but the tiny wonders can feel you with just as much awe.
We started from both ends of the park and traveled as far as we could but still missed the fantastic section from Avalanche Pass to Siyeh Bend. Even more reason to return!