So I have finally established enough energy to write the story of the rest of my Mountain Vacation Day 8. After finishing day 8 I will give a quick recap of days 9 through 11…I believe and then, before ya know it, the Mountain Vacation story will be complete.
…Now were we?
Oh yes…the hike.
Let me say what I said before.
Hike to Grinnell Glacier Lookout
Mileage: 11.68 round trip (9.68 mi round trip if you take the boat one way) So be sure and take some toilet paper because trust me...you will need to use it at some point.
Time Elapsed: 5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Glacier hiking books will say it's easy....they're full of crap. A more accurate rating would be moderate. Mom says an accurate rating for the typical Texas mom would be difficult-strenuous.
1.45 Miles into the Hike
Mom and I come across a family of 4 (Mom, Dad and two boys) who inform us that the hike, “only went uphill from there.” Thanks a lot family of 4, that’s exactly the encouragement that Sue and I needed when we were on the verge of death hiking up a mountain.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the hike to Grinnell Glacier has been quoted by an avid hiker as an “easy” hike, but I disagree. It is a moderate hike...don't believe the "experts," they hike too fast.
Sue and I kept a pace of about 22 minutes per mile, which was pretty good when you think about going straight up a mountain for 22 minutes straight. And yes, we did stop every tenth of a mile to rest, drink water and let other more fit hikers pass us.
Two miles roles around and Mom has decided she better lean gracefully against a tree and let me continue on towards the “summit”.
I hiked on.
The blood, the sweat and the tears couldn’t stop me from the summit. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. If you do the math, the hike UP the mountain is exactly 3.5 miles. By the time 2.6 miles came I was hurtin’ pretty bad. Let’s get real, if you’re from Texas you’re not use to walking, uphill, on shale, with a cliff to the left of you, life is going to suck when you first start hiking in the mountains.
Yet I pressed on!
2.9 miles came and I was threatened by the thought of turning back. I kept coming to a bend on the mountain and thought, “Oh! The glacier is just around the corner.” Then...that bend came and went. Soon enough I saw another bend that promised a frozen glacier at the end…and was yet again, sadly disappointed. I did catch myself singing the song by the late and great Pocahontas
"Just Around the River Bend." Maybe you've heard of it.
3.5 Miles ….and an Out-House
So I come to a sign
0.4 miles to the actual lookout, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I just walked straight through grizzly country, hoping I wouldn’t fall off a cliff and you’re telling me I still have 0.4 miles to hike?! Well, at least there’s an outhouse I can have a break in.
Then I see snow…
I think this is the glacier that I’ve been panting towards for the past 3 hours. SAY WHAT?! I could have just Googled the glacier if I wanted to see this.
I was beyond ready and willing to turn back. I knew Sue was freaking out at the waterfall where I had left her and should turn back at any moment to avoid certain grizzly bear attack. But, I pressed on .10 miles from the “summit” and I couldn’t push on? Come on now, what kind of “athlete” am I?
It was sooo worth it.
Comin’ Back Down
As you can see, I made it to the glacier, one of 10 still in existence in Glacier National Park. Turns out, people thought Mom was dying on the side of the mountain...haha.
A cool young hiker had stopped and asked her why she was sitting by the waterfall. She, in-turn, explained that her daughter had hiked to the glacier and was returning for her…I’m pretty sure the hiker believed she had lost her mind up on a mountain and was sitting there, only to be eaten by bears later that evening.
Needless to say, I picked Mom back up on the hike down from the glacier and didn't leave her there stranded for the bears to snack on.
Dead and Exhausted
I’m sorry to say this but I was sweaty and looked like I had been hit by an 18-wheeler after I got down from Grinnell Glacier. Mom opted to take my backpack I had been hiking with the first 8 miles and hiked it into the starting point of the hike, Many Glacier Hotel, for the last 2 miles of the hike. It’s fairly accurate to say I was a sweaty beast. If we came across any bears on our hike, no worries Sue! No need to bear spray!! I was starving and would have slayed a bear/moose/or deer for that matter on site if it would have stepped in front of me! I was on a hiker’s high, much like the runner’s high.
We hiked into Many Galcier hotel exactly 5 ½ hours and 9.37 miles later that day. I’m not sure why, but people wouldn’t stand next to me with a wall of sweat drooling down my back (I know that’s a lovely visual for all you readers). Literally, a woman at the hotel took a step away from me after standing in my vicinity for a few seconds….I was slightly offended, and wanted to step towards her just to be mean.
After a long day of hiking and fearing bear attacks, we ventured on our way out of Many Glacier area to get to a hotel, that we haven’t booked yet, for the night.
No Room at the Inn
I’m sure you’ve heard the biblical story about Mary and Joseph being turned away because there was “no room at the inn”? Sue and I had a similar experience, except neither of us were on the water-breaking verge of a virgin birth.
Post-exhaustion, we attempted to find a hotel room available, during peak tourist time. Of course there were no rooms available in any of the hotels in East Glacier, so the kind concierge gave us the name of a “B&B” down the road a ways from St. Mary’s.
...Turned out to be 14 miles “down the way.”
That's when a Blackfoot Indian named Alger flagged us down off Highway 17, just north of Babb, Montana.
Google maps that place...I dare you. A very kind man he was, and a very simple man. If you need a good, clean place to stay next time you go through Babb, give Alger a call, he'll hook you up with a room. He also happens to run the Blackfeet Outfitters. Check out his website, apparently he's quite the guide.
A Nice Dinner gone Tacky, then back to Alger's
Alger was nice enough to suggest a few dinner places for Mom and I so we headed back into Babb and stopped at the Cattle Baron Supper Club.
I was a tad concerned we might get into a bar fight in here, but you walk into the bar and restaurant and it's amazing. Everything is beautifully crafted and there are stuffed animals all over the place, if you're into that sort of thing.
Sue and I sit down and we are so glad to be in a nice establishment when I begin to unintentionally overhear the men at the table over having a delightful conversation. Now I know people who can cuss with creativity and these guys didn't waste any time being creative, they just wanted to use the f-bomb as much and as often as possible. To sum up these men, they were self-proclaimed white, male "elitists" of America who changed others' lives by how much they tipped.
I was personally overwhelmed by their ignorance and lack of respect for others in a public dining establishment, so I complained....I did! And I hate complainers, so hopefully that tells you about how bad they were.
Oh, and they were beautiful men. I have no idea how they ever got married.
So the night came to a close and I didn't fight any local Babb-sters.
I don't know about you, but I'm personally glad to have that story finished and told...sure took me long enough. Oh yes, and you may all call me Heidi now, after decending from the Alps-looking glacier.