The trek from Portland to Salt Lake City was a lonely one… 2500 miles, 11 days without anyone I know. It’s a pretty long stretch. Fortunately, there were 4 different national parks separating them, and plenty of new terrain.
After hiking up Mr. Rainier, and getting over to Glacier National Park, I quickly realized how crowded these National Parks can get. It seems like each park gets a rush of hundreds if not thousands of visitors each day. I expected as much from Yellowstone, but it has blown me away: the lines of cars waiting to get in, the packed parking lots, the number of people on a trail at 7000+ feet 2-3 miles up a trail head. And the variety of people out there—locals enjoying the park in their backyard, people roadtripping around, adventurers traveling from all over the world—it’s awesome how many people are out there enjoying the parks.
In Glacier National Park, the fire cut off the Going to the Sun Road, and coming up on the West side I had to make due,with the trails on that side. The longest trail out there was the Apgar Lookout, out and back, so I went with that.
The trailhead was down a gravel, bumpy, lane and half, which made me question if I was on the actual road to get out there or I was going to end up in a den of grizzlies. I was on the right track, so I got geared up, recently bear spray on hand, and on the trail.
This was a real pretty trail through an area that burned in the last 15 years, so lots of new growth pines and smaller shrubs. Going up the trail I met a really nice family from Iowa, visiting to go to a wedding but also paired it was a couple of days in the park. I got to talk about my trip with and was able to slow down on trail some. They were super cordial and wished me luck on my journey, which was really fantastic.
The next day, I set out to hunt for glaciers…they are the namesake of the park after all. On an impulse and out of convenience I took the Highland trail, which was supposed to be ok and not really recommended by the ranger at the visitor center and 7 miles out you could see Grinnell Glacier. So I set off on the trail, it was a light descent at first, then all of a sudden you were on this granite cliffside with a rope on the inside of the trail to give you something to hold on to. Then you were working your way overlooking the road, but also deep valleys and distant peaks, which was a beauty to behold.
This is where navigating single track trails is wonderful; you get to say hi to people and chat with them for a little bit as hike up the trail with them.
With that methodology in mind a ended up meeting up with Staci(spelling?), a self described, grumpy old man from Canada with kids around my age. He was itching to see a grizzly and was determined to hike until he saw one. He also greeted every person we came across with a “How you doing?” and maybe grumpy isn’t the right term, rather a blunt, and straightforward gentleman, who doesn’t care what other people think about what other people think about what he says. I learned all about his opinion of his kids and how his son drives him crazy, and what an idiot the son sounds like and why do girls fall for him, can’t they see through him
It was great to hike a couple of miles with him, not just because he would force me to stop to enjoy the beauty of it all—the hillsides were like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with all sorts of colors draped on the adjacent cliffsides
Then with snow speckled on above it, these overlook hikes were pretty incredible.