Grinnell Glacier was our next destination in the Park. We started early that morning with our drive to Many Glacier, about an hour and a half from our campground. There is a boat service that cuts off two miles of the hike to the glacier – making the trip about 4.5 miles roundtrip rather than about 8 miles. That was what we were hoping for at least. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the boat trips were all booked up for the morning. Apparently, everyone had the same plan as us that day – to be honest I don’t blame them, it was a beautiful day.
Time for Plan B: hike the two miles that would have been cut off by the boat trip. Plan B was quickly cut off by a mama black bear and her two cubs that were romping around by the lake and right on the trail we were trying to hike. Standing on the lakeshore by the lodge, we were able to see the two cubs playing with each other and swimming in the lake. With the mountains reflecting off the lake water, it was simply picturesque. But not something you would want to walk by at all. Especially a mama with her cubs. No need to risk trying to walk by them.
So. Plan C. There was a boat trip through the boat company at 2:00 that included an interpretive group hike to Grinnell Lake, one of the fabulous glacial lakes, with one of the employees of the boat company. This was not ideal, as Katie and I were both really hoping to be able to actually see one of the 25 glaciers left at Glacier National Park (in the early 20th century there were a total of 150 in the park). But because of our lack of cell coverage to make a reservation for an early boat and because of…you know…bears…we were forced into Plan C. And Grinnell Lake is nothing to pooh pooh at either. All three of the lakes we saw that day – Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake, and Swiftcurrent lake, are fed directly by glaciers, meaning they had a fantastic turquoise hue. This turquoise is created by the glacial sediment (which, in turn is created by the movement of the glacier eroding the rock it sits on) suspended in the water refracting the sunlight. The sediment is so fine that it doesn’t settle on the bottom of the lake, which allows it to refract the sunlight, creating that iconic color (thanks to our guide Jolene for explaining this to us!)
So although we were upset about not being able to see Grinnell Glacier up close, it was still a wonderful day in a mystical environment. Next time, though, we’ll make sure to wake up much earlier to try and get to the boat…or at least get an earlier start on the trail.