Day 5 – Glacier National Park, Many Glacier and St. Mary
Today we headed to the park and drove a bit around the St. Mary entrance, gathering our bearings with the park map before deciding to head north toward Babb and the Many Glacier Entrance. I previously printed out the main areas we wanted to consider going, and highlighted simpler hiking trails between 0-2 miles for our family to try. I had marked two trails for Many Glacier and we ended up spending the morning on the first- Apikuni Falls. It was incredible and the perfect challenge for our family- 2 miles round trip with 600 feet elevation gain, and ended in a gorgeous view of some waterfalls.
After we made it back down, we found a restroom and then ate a picnic lunch I had packed, which included the following:
◦ Oasis wraps – a recipe from Sally Clarkson’s Life Giving Table book, consisting of pita bread wrapped around hummus, olive oil cooked chicken, bell peppers and onions
◦ Turkey rolls
◦ Trail mix
We then drove on to see the Many Glacier Hotel, which was built in 1914-1915! We walked about 3/4 mile around the lake nearest it before deciding a few of us needed a nap for some recovery from the first hike. 😉
While everyone either napped or read books, I loaded up some bedding and towels that were wet from the result of a rainwater leak during the night on top of our slideout in the RV. I discovered the leak this morning when I awoke before everyone. We stuck a bucket underneath it and I took the wet linens down to the laundromat while everyone rested.
We planned to go back out again, but a thunderstorm hit as we were getting ice cream on our way into the park, so we went back to our RV and decided to play and grill burgers instead. We all enjoyed a shower and somewhat early bedtime.
Day 6 Logan’s Pass and Lake McDonald
Today began early since we knew we wanted to make it at least halfway across the park. I awoke everyone shortly after 6am, and we bundled up in layers, grabbed our picnic lunch, and after a short interval of trying to find the truck keys (they were in a rain jacket pocket, ha), we headed into the park, sipping on hot coffee and nibbling on reheated blueberry muffins that I prepped ahead of time.
We made it to the highest altitude of Glacier National Park in plenty of time to get a parking spot (I had read this was difficult since it’s such a congested area). We started our hike by 8am.
The 2.8 miles up 700+ elevation gain took us 2 hours and 15 minutes round trip! Here were some of the novels we felt like we were walking through based on the scenery we experienced:
◦ Buried in the Snow
◦ The Princess and the Goblin
The fields of wildflowers were incredible! The patches of ice and snow were quite near our trail, and we walked through fog and clouds most of the way. We even spotted a few Bighorn Sheep!
Once we reached the top of our destination, Hidden Lake Overlook, we were still enveloped in clouds and had to wait a few minutes (while each enjoying a tangerine orange) for the fog to clear before being able to view Hidden Lake and the bottom of the Bearhat Mountain. More adventurous hikers can continue on the trail down to Hidden Lake itself, but this part of the trail was currently closed due to bear activity.
On the way down, Behr begged to scurry up what we thought was another option of the trail, where we had seen 30-40 people on our ascent. I agreed to go with him, but on our way down a park ranger stopped us and several others to explain it wasn’t part of the trail, but instead was a mountain goat trail.
We made it back to Logan’s Pass and visited the gift store where be purchased a few souvenirs: hiking socks, stuffed animals, and Beau chose a really neat leather bound atlas of America’s National Parks. When you’re married to a man who owns a screen-printing and embroidery business, and knows the cost of materials and labor, you don’t get to buy overpriced shirts or hats on trips like these, haha. But he did find some patches that he purchased to embroider onto hats for himself and the boys!
Since it was only mid morning, we decided to continue across the park on Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald. By this time Logan’s Pass was becoming crowded and we happily gave up our parking spot, glad we arrived earlier than most.
While traveling this longer route to the west side of GNP, we finished an audio book we started last summer- a biography of George Mueller. I’ve said it before, but there is something poignantly inspiring about driving through God’s breathtaking creation while listening to a story like that of Mueller’s life and how he served and trusted God. We definitely recommend it!
Our first stop on the west side was Lake McDonald Lodge. Before getting out of the truck, we ate our picnic lunch of leftover burgers, oasis wraps, grapes, and trail mix.
The lodge, built with traditional trees and logs in the area, contains the largest fireplace I’ve ever seen, and overlooks the pristine lake off the back deck. We read that the back of the lodge used to be the entrance, as the only way to access it used to be by boat before the main road was built. We visited the gift shop here as well and purchased a few more souvenir gifts that consisted of mostly huckleberry products.
There are many boat tours and rentals available for the lake here, and the boys convinced Nick to rent a motorboat for an hour for fishing. As we all climbed into the boat with our life jackets, Carmen panicked and scrambled back out, and Nick decided it would be best for she and I to stay on land for this adventure. We went up to the back porch to some log rocking chairs and dozed in the perfect 60 degree calm weather, in between hearing the boys shouting (Behr, mainly) and looking up to see them riding against the waves of the lake and having the time of their lives. Nick later reported that it wasn’t great conditions for fishing and the boys requested “getting some air” instead. Carmen definitely wouldn’t have liked that (neither would I, haha).
Once they docked the boat, we loaded back up to drive east again, munching on chocolate covered huckleberries (similar in taste to chocolate covered pomegranates!), this time stopping at McDonald Falls and Cascade of Sacred Dancing, which we easily viewed from the roadside pull offs. We then drove a little farther to our second and final hike of the day at Trail of Cedars. This trail was very simple and flat, wheelchair accessible, and truly amazing! Covered in coolness by the western red cedar trees, we slowly meandered along this 0.7 loop and admired the size of these ancient trees.
The final drive back to our east side of the park took a while, but the views were unlike anything we’ve ever seen before- pictures do it no justice!
We started another audio book which the boys have listened to before- Ralph Moody’s Little Britches, Father and I were Ranchers. Nick seemed to be enjoying it as much as any of us, and had me pause it a few times to discuss teaching moments in it with the boys. Have I mentioned we love the power of storytelling?! C also took a small nap on this drive, cuddling her newly purchased wolf stuffed animal, appropriately named Glacier.
Another brief and exciting event happened on this drive eastward- we saw a black bear! It crossed the road behind us, and we only briefly saw it’s rump lumbering into the woods, but nonetheless, we did see it!
One more stop on the east side to get some bags of ice, and a pink fishing pole for Carmen, and we made it back to our RV about ten hours after we left it this morning! I think I could have fallen in bed at that point, haha.
While the boys played baseball, Nick grilled steaks and I threw together a salad (the all in one bags of salad are great for RV trips!), and rain started right as he finished. We gathered around our table inside and enjoyed some perfectly cooked steaks, followed by some previously prepped and frozen cheesecake bites for dessert. I did indeed fall in bed at that point, around 8:30pm!