The closer we got the more drinkable the air became, if that was even possible. It was tempting to stay at the top of the hill – the label of hill being about as accurate as that of kitty for a bobcat – but we were ravenous and lunch still needed to be assembled so down to Hidden Lake we went…
A few hours earlier, the morning had started with a bear sighting before we even left the house – we weren’t sure it could get much better.
But on our way into Glacier National Park the scenery took our minds off the animal life and we breathed in air as pure as water.
Our plan for the day was to hike Hidden Lake, but first we had to get there. Into the park, up past Lake McDonald and around The Loop on the Going to the Sun Road we went to reach Logan Pass.
It was a cold and windy morning requiring far too many layers for the first few miles of the hike. The windswept earth looked almost alien at times, but then a stream or waterfall caused by the melting snow would encourage patches of wildflowers and swatches of bright green vegetation.
Smirking to ourselves as we passed the inappropriate-footware-brigade [seriously? who hikes in wedge heels and rubber flip-flops?!] we pushed through the glacial wind for nearly all of the 1.5 miles to the outlook, pausing only for the occasional flora photo opportunity.
Once we ohh-ed and ahh-ed at Hidden Lake Overlook we left the crowds behind to continue a further 1.5 miles down to the lake itself.
Rewarded with Marmots basking in the sun at every turn, Columbia Ground Squirrels forging for food and a view that became more spectacular the further around the lake we went, the wind even began to die down and the layers started to loosen.
Pausing at the top of the ridge and surveying the numerous cutbacks we needed to traverse, it did cross our minds briefly that we would need to hike back up… but lunch was not going to make itself and down we went.
Unbeknownst to us, the Hidden Lake shoreline had only just re-opened that morning, as four Grizzly Bears had been making it their home for the past week.
This little tidbit was shared by a fellow hiker once we were down at the waters-edge chomping away on tuna sandwiches.
Everywhere around the park you see ‘bear-bells’ – to scare them away, and ‘bear spray’ – to drive them away, for sale. Having no back-woods inclinations we set off with neither. RJ did perform the role of chief noise maker on the hike however, bursting out in a whistled version of ‘Kill Bill’ every few minutes. Yes, it was as disconcerting as it sounds.
Once the Grizzly Bear residency information was shared, RJ whistled just a little bit louder on the way back to the lodge.
Anyway, I did learn after we left Montana how you can tell the difference between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears just by what their sh*t looks like. Black Bear sh*t is pretty much what you would expect from a 200 lb animal, Grizzly Bear sh*t is full of bear-bells*.
But I digress.
Once we were finished with lunch, all limbs still intact and not a bear in sight, there was a much needed stop at the Pit Toilet [not quite as terrible as anticipated, not remotely pleasant in any way, lets not mention it again] and we were off.
The wind was kind enough to stay calm, the Marmots lazed in the sun and a Mountain Goat took in afternoon-tea while posing for the paparazzi.
Back in the car we raced the rapidly approaching evening hours to make it up to the Eastern Entrance of the park.
But even impending twilight couldn’t dissuade us from pulling over to marval at the Bighorn Sheep scattered across the hilside.
On the far shore of St Mary Lake we stopped for the quintessential Glacier National Park shot of Wild Goose Island…
…and only slightly white-knuckled the drive back down, making it to town just in time for another spectacular sunset end to the day.
*Kirsten – I did tell Manu her joke would make it into a post – still laughing about that one!
**Can we please all just ignore the seemingly random enormous watermarks on a few of the pics? Great, thanks. Doing all this on iPad apps may just kill me yet! Other than collage- comps and text there is not an edited photo in sight, it really was that blue.**