We were pretty excited to get to Glacier National Park. I’ve been to the Tetons and Yellowstone before, but Glacier was going to be new for both of us. After a long day of driving, we found ourselves in Kalispell, Montana, gassing up the rig.
A friendly Montanan stopped by to check out the XPCamper (a common occurrence), and we started talking to him about camping for Glacier. He told us it was pretty hard to get a camp site, but if all else failed, there was a Walmart up the road.
We made a few calls and checked out a couple of options in Kalispell, but everything was booked. We ended up in Walmart, with about 20 other RVers. It was actually not bad at all. Folks at Walmart were nice, and we woke up early the next morning and raced into Glacier to get a camp spot.
The highway running through Glacier is called the Going to the Sun Road. This highway is absolutely stunning, and if all you did on your visit to Glacier was to drive this highway, you wouldn’t be let down! I tried to make a time-lapse video of the road, but my GoPro camera totally failed — it ended up over-exposing all the photos! (Side note to GoPro owners, there is a new firmware that fixes the issue on the GoPro site.)
We arrived early at a camping site near the middle of the park called Avalanche Creek. We started following some trails around the campground and ended up on a trail that took us up to Avalanche Lake. This hike had incredible scenery–I remember wanting to take a photo every 10 steps–something I hadn’t felt since being in Angkor Wat. And, similar to Angkor Wat, I’m not sure any of the pictures I took actually captured the scale and beauty of this place.
We had an early start and mostly had the trail to ourselves on our way up to the lake. However, by the time we were descending the trail was packed! Recommendation to future hikers — try to catch this trail earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds.
That night, we made plans for an epic 14 mile hike across Glacier–from Logan Pass along the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet, and from there descend to the Loop. We went to bed early, knowing that it was going to be a big day.
We were the first people at the shuttle stop, and it was lucky we were because the shuttle was packed. We got the last two seats available, and were on our way to Logan Pass. The shuttle was nice, and we enjoyed being able to focus on the scenery rather than driving up the narrow roads.
We arrived at Logan Pass and Erica asked if they sold coffee; the ranger replied that they didn’t even have power! Oops! Should have made some before we left..
As we hiked he trail, it was one of the first times during the trip that things felt real to me. We had really done it–quit our jobs, bought a vehicle to travel the world, and now here we were, on an epic hike through a national park that I’ve always wanted to visit. I asked myself, how many times would I experience this over the next several months? Would I take it for granted? I hope I never forget how lucky I am to have an opportunity to do a trip like this.
About 7 miles into our hike, we had the option to take a trail straight up to the ridge line where we could see one of the last Glaciers in Glacier National Park. We stopped to eat lunch, because the trail was intimidating–it was basically straight up the mountainside. It was hard to believe the views would be better than what we already experienced.
In the end, we decided we had to take the trail up to the ridge. Who knows, in ten years the glacier might be gone (according to different things we read, the glaciers have anywhere from 10 to 30 years before they disappear).
This was a tough trail–it was only 0.6 miles according to the sign post, but everyone we saw at the top agreed that it was longer. Maybe it was just the elevation talking.
As we descended down to the Loop, we were exhausted but happy. This hike had exceeded our expectations in every way, and it felt like a promise of all the amazing things that we would see during our journey down the pan american.
When we finally got back to camp, we were completely drained. We made a huge batch of macaroni and cheese, took showers in the XPCamper, and then collapsed from exhaustion.