Glacier National Park – Arrival Day – 8/16/13
Glacier National Park has been on my must-see short list for several years. Fortunately for me, my hiking friend Jeff included me in a 10-day trip he planned for August 2013. This is the third trip I’ve been on with Jeff in one year and I was oh-so-grateful for the opportunity. The group consisted of three men and three women. Can I behave? Can I be ready on time every day? Can I keep up? No crying this time? Fingers crossed.
Quick stats on Glacier NP:
Located in northwest Montana
740 miles of hiking trails
25 named “active” glaciers, meaning they move
762 lakes total, named and unnamed
Home to grizzly bears, black bears, gray wolf, elk, lynx, wolverine, cougar, moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep – and smaller mammals
There are no nailed-down estimates of the number of grizzlies and black bears in Glacier, but it seems they each number in the hundreds (as compared to 2,000 black bears in the 800,000 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains NP). Still, grizzlies are considered aggressive and all hiking books and websites advise hiking in groups of 3 or more in grizzly territory. Our group totaled 6 people so we should be safe. That is…if we stayed together.
We flew into Great Falls, Montana on a lovely Friday afternoon, picked up two rental cars (one for the guys, one for the women) and stocked up on groceries at the local market (food for breakfasts and lunches each day). Then we drove a couple of hours to St. Mary Campground on the eastern edge of the Park, our home for the first four nights. Our group philosophy is “sleep cheap, eat well” so we tried out the local restaurants each night rather than cooking in camp.
Our friend Marta met us at the campsite. She moved to Glacier NP for a seasonal job in summer 2012 and decided to stay. Her husband is selling the homestead in Charlotte and joining her. Marta spent the weekend with us and loaded us up with stories of her experiences in the Park, the history, the flora, the fauna and the gossip. A personal guide – with bear spray!
I can’t believe we’re finally here!
“But I love to be outdoors. I prefer being outdoors to, you know, being inside.” ~Keith Carradine