Aiko’s Trek Through the West: Hiking in Glacier

EDIT: Now with decent pictures.

My shoulders are lousy with bug bites. When I put on my night shirt, I noticed some rust-colored stains exactly where the bites are… Gross.

Anyway! Hiking! Is what I did for three days straight.  I arrived in Glacier National Park at about 7:30 in the evening evening, and set up camp at Avalanche, on the east side of the park. I am not an early riser, so after a leisurely breakfast and visit to the visitor center, I picked a hike and headed off at about 1:00.

Despite not really thinking about what “gain of 2100 feet” really meant, I found it it a nice hike, about 10 miles round trip. It wasn’t spectacular–you hike through mostly wooded terrain and end up at a little glacial lake called Lake Snyder, which was pleasant but not stunning.

Lake Snyder

Wednesday I again got a late start to head to East Glacier, where I was planning to do some back country camping. To be honest, I dragged my feet about this a little: backpacks are heavy, and if you forget something it sucks, and bears are scary. However, properly Roughing It every now and again is required to maintain yourself in good standing as a citizen of Seattle, so I had to go, and once I talked to the rangers I felt ready. Until they made me watch the Here Are All the Ways to Die in the Back Country (Did We Mention the Bears?) video. But I had already paid the fee and couldn’t look like a wuss in front of the ranger, so I bought some rope to hang my food, strapped on my backpack, and headed off around 3:00.

This hike was prettier than the last, through lush meadows bursting with wildflowers set against a backdrop of dramatic be-glaciered mountains. A fire had gutted the forest sometime recently, so rising out of the meadows are the skeletons of trees, the black charcoal of the burned bark peeling back to reveal the white bones underneath.

As you walk along, you are supposed to call out periodically to alert the bears that you are coming, so they can more easily find you if they want a snack. Just kidding, they are apparently not aware that they could totally take us if we went mano a mano with them, and yelling frightens them away. So I clapped and called out and sometimes sang. This feels foolish, but I ain’t gonna be no lunch for a bear.

The hike was mostly flat, but there are two very scary bridges like you might have to cross in an action movie where rather than a freezing cold, swiftly moving glacial river underneath, you’d have lava or crocodile infested waters, or a bottomless pit.

Scary.

As soon as I got into dense vegetation that crowded the path, it began to rain. This didn’t particularly phase me. I am used to rain. But it soaked the vegetation, which in turn soaked my pants, which in turn soaked my shoes. This didn’t, in the end, matter, as I had to ford a small river and entirely submerge my feet to get to my campsite.

I ran into some very nice folks from Baltimore who were already there, and we chatted around dinner (you have to all store, prep, and eat food in the same area. Because of the bears). The rain picked up in earnest, so we all headed to our tents for the night, where I roughed it by prepping my votes for the People’s Choice Tournament and typing up most of this post (I used to handwrite a journal of this sort of thing, but honestly, a wireless keyboard and an iPhone are smaller and I prefer to type).

My hike back was the same in reverse, and I capped off four physically exhausting days with a conference call interview with Todd Goldstein of ARMS for this site, and headed off east, determined to stay in a motel for the night.

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3 Responses to Aiko’s Trek Through the West: Hiking in Glacier

  1. night shirt is a funny noun

  2. Janos says:

    What kind of bears are we talking about? I’ve run across a black bear or two, and they aren’t so bad. Just hungry for your leftovers. If I knew a grizzly was in the vicinity, however, I might hit the panic button. What was that terrible movie where Alec Baldwin got chased by a grizzly for like two hours?>

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