Thursday, October 20, 2011

September 27, 2011 Iceberg Lake

We got up early and headed toward Many Glacier Road. The sun was shining but we could see really dark clouds coming over the mountains as we drove into Swiftcurrent Valley.
There are several great hikes in this area. I decided the 10 mile round trip hike to Iceberg Lake was the one we would attempt because the 1200' elevation gain was half the amount of the gain to Ptarmigan Tunnel. Another option was hiking to Grinnell Glacier and we have seen glaciers up close on trips to Alaska and Norway. So as soon as we get to the trailhead for Iceberg Lake, we see this sign...
...and Chrissy hikes right in hoping to see the bear.
As we hike west into the mountains, the sun is still shining down the valley from the east. This is one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen. The strange light only makes it more breathtaking. But the dark clouds are closing in quickly... isn't raining on us so we continue to hike further into the valley.
I spotted a bighorn sheep on the rocks above us and Chrissy spotted a moose in the willow below us. Then we saw this herd of bighorn sheep grazing above us. Not long after that the rain and the wind really started to pick up. We continued past the Ptarmigan Falls and on to Iceberg Lake. Due to the rain, I didn't take many pictures.
The clouds were really low blocking our view of the mountains all along the trail. Iceberg Lake surrounded by 3000' mountains was as beautiful as all the guidebooks promised. There were icebergs still floating in the lake.
Even though we both thought how amazing this would be on a nice day, it was still worth the hike through the rain today. We hiked around the lake for a few minutes.
The color of the water was this shade of blue that seemed unreal, like a color not normally seen in nature.
We also had a plan. Once we decided to make this trip, we thought Glacier National Park would be the perfect place to leave the ashes of our dog, Glacier. Then we decided that my favorite hiking partner and Glacier's friend Fluffy should be left here too. So we had a little ceremony and spread their ashes together along the lakeshore.

Iceberg Lake...a beautiful final resting spot.
I took this picture once we got back to the car. It rained with the wind in our face the entire hike back to the car. We were soaked and cold and it would be easy to say how miserable the whole day was except that would be a lie. It felt great to spend the day in such an awe inspiring place. On the way back we ran into at least a dozen other hikers who were on their way to the lake. The most impressive were a couple from Pennsylvania that had to be in the mid 60's. The wife explained that their days of hiking to Iceberg Lake were behind them and they were turning around at Ptarmigan Falls. FYI - a six mile roundtrip hike that they began on a windy rainy 50 degree day. Another couple told us about a moose below the trail. He was resting when we walked by but his huge rack was visible above the brush. It was easily one of the biggest moose we've ever seen. We ate lunch at the Leaning Tree Cafe and then we dried our boots and packs in our cabin. While doing laundry at the St. Mary KOA, we saw this...
...a rainbow. Now the day didn't suddenly improve, it turns out that it has been sunny all day just east of the mountains. The storm just stalled over the mountains. We spent the late afternoon driving along the Going To The Sun Road which was actually going toward the dark clouds.

So that is how we ended our day...enjoying a drive through the very scenic Glacier NP and having our views obscured by clouds...still had a great day.

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