Glacier National Park, Montana: 8/30 – 9/8/20

We finally made it Glacier National Park and learned that only the western side of the park was open. The eastern side featuring Many Glacier Valley Trails and Two Medicine Valley was closed due to Covid. All entrances on the east side of the park abut the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, which was hit hard with Covid. Fish Creek Campground, located not far from the Apgar western entrance was the only campground that was open for the season, and it was full. We headed about 40 minutes south to Hungry Horse Reservoir and was able to find one of the last open sites at Lid Creek Campground.

Gotta love this sign!

A short two minute walk through the woods brings you to your own private beach.

The next morning, we got up early and headed for the park.

From the western entrance, we drove on “Going To The Sun” Road to St. Mary’s Lake. The road was blocked at Rising Sun parking area to prevent you from gaining any further access into the eastern side which was closed. We turned around and made some stops along the way back out of the park.

Looking at Wild Goose Island from the road.

Scott captured the above picture which is quite similar to the photograph appearing in the park’s map, except we had a cloudy day in a warmer season. Just sayin’.

Standing at the shoreline of Mary’s Lake. Goose Island is off to the far right.
Young people about to jump off Red Rock Point. Zoom in to see. They jumped immediately after I took this photo.

The next day we drove to Siyeh Bend/Pigeon Pass and began a 9.2 mile, 2,261’ elevation gain hike to Siyeh Pass . It turned out to be a very windy, adventurous day. Hope you enjoy our photos.

Here we are at the beginning of the hike. It was cloudy and a bit chilly.
Morning clouds
The first two miles of the trail meandered in and out of dense tree areas, with limited elevation gain.
It would be here that we would make some noise, cough, and even talk to the bears that may be hiding in the greenery.
Eventually, the trail opened up to reveal a stream.
Just past the stream and above tree line, it completely opened up on both sides of the trail.
Minutes before this photo, a Grizzly momma and her cub came strolling across the trail about 100 yards away.
You can see them off in the distance.
Scott was able to zoom in to capture a photo of the two bears. Zoom in to see the mother’s telltale hump.

It was at this point in our hike that I began to hyperventilate. I didn’t want to get any closer to grizzlies. As much as we both wanted to get to the pass, we both knew that it was possible that the momma bear would turn around and come back in our direction. So, we turned around to abort the hike. Fortunately or unfortunately, we ran into a family of five from Chicago. They had been in the park hiking for the last few days. Today, they planned to hike to the pass and then turn back around to the parking lot at Siyeh Bend where they/we had started. We warned them of the bears, but they decided to continue on with their hike. They asked if we wanted to join them, and we did. For me, it’s less scary when you are hiking in a large group. As we continued up the trail, we all enjoyed watching the two bears from afar. All of a sudden, a LARGE grizzly male was barreling down the mountain from the right, and he crossed the trail at about the same point as the previous bears had. We watched him for a while, and then collectively decided to continue up the trail to the pass. The views at the pass were simply breathtaking.

A non-selfie photo gives such a better angle.

Our group of eight took turns taking multiple photographs of the beauty surrounding us. At this point, we had two options. Option A: Go back down the way we came in order to return to our vehicles, which would mean the possibility of running into the bears again. Option B: Continue on the trail to Sunrift Gorge, which would require us to hitchhike for a ride back to our vehicles. All of a sudden, our new friend, Pat, came quickly from around the bend to tell us that the male grizzly was back on the trail just around the corner.

Here he comes!

The decision had been made. We all started to move quickly down the switchbacks until the bear came into sight. We froze and began to make a lot of noise.

Thankfully, the bear didn’t come towards us. He meandered his way down the mountainside far enough away where we felt safe enough to continue down the trail. That was the end of our bear-sighting for the day! We are glad that we ended up not turning around since the scenery continued to enthrall us.

Another glacier on the horizon.
Approaching that glacier at almost eye level.
View of glacier from below.
Glacier run-off. Great spot for lunch.
Remains from a fire in 2015 when 4,311 acres were affected.
Nearing the end of the hike near Going-To-The-Sun-Road and Mary’s Lake.

On Saturday, we took our last hike at Glacier NP. We took Loop Trail to Granite Park Chalet to Highline Trail to Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint. We gained 3,400’ in elevation over the course of this 11.6 mile hike, and we didn’t see any grizzlies. This could be because some of the hike was a bit overcrowded.

The start of the hike. It is already pretty warm outside for 7:30 a.m.
A young girl was walking alone ahead of us.
You can see Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint off to the far right. It would be a while before we got there.
There is a group kitchen on the ground floor and a few rooms for sleeping upstairs.
This four-room chalet offers sleeping accommodations only. Shared restrooms are outside.
Highline Trail towards Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint
Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint

Hopefully, we will have an opportunity in the future to return to Glacier National Park to explore the eastern side. Until then, goodbye Montana. It was nice to finally see you. Next stop, Idaho!

One thought on “Glacier National Park, Montana: 8/30 – 9/8/20

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.