Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break With Dad (Day 1) - Glacier National Park

So, I'm back in college for round 3 which means I get a spring break again!  Taking advantage of its return by spending it with my dad.

Day 1 got us from home and landed safely in Missoula Montana.  Highlight of my flight was seeing the very tip of the peak of Mt. Rainier (14,410ft) from an above-the-clouds perspective.

We immediately rented a 4-wheel drive and headed straight for Glacier National Park.  The day has been blustery, chilly but not freezing, delightfully grey, and rained off and on.  In other words - glorious conditions for a day hike.

Now, the end of March is not considered "winter" season but also not quite "spring," which means that many road and trails remain closed in the park.  This means that access to many of the more famous features of the park are unavailable to us.

Now, the benefit of going in such an off season is that you pretty much get the parts of the park that are open to yourself.  The park feels a bit like a ghost town, causing you to pause and wonder if the zombie apocalypse has come at last.  Empty feeling except for some furry friends:

white tailed deer (I think?)
There was not even a visitor use assistant at the park entrance to collect your entry fee...just a honor system box to pay and go. 

We stopped briefly at the visitor center to get a trail map and inquire as to what trails were open this time of year, and were happy to discover quite a few trails near Lake McDonald (which is the biggest lake in Glacier National Park -  almost 500ft deep and 10 miles long) were open.  By the time we got here it was about 1500 so we drove to the closest trail head we came upon and got out of the car to get a bit of Glacier in before the sun went down.
We hiked a small portion of the Sperry Chalet Trail (not sure how many miles, but we were on the trail just an hour and a half).  As soon as we got out of the car to hike, it began to rain, which made everything in the old growth forest come to life.  There was a little snow on the path (nothing too significant though) and some fallen trees we climbed over, and the sound of a nearby creek running swiftly and full of water was the only sound besides our footsteps.

We caught the very beginning of the sunset on Lake McDonald on our way out of the park, and are looking forward to returning for a different day hike tomorrow.

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