Day 13 - Lyn & Io's 13 miler via a Glacier

Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lyn here, I had the most fitful night's sleep ever last night clcok watching. I was awake before my 06.30am alarm clock, waiting to go. Ioan and I had put everything ready the night before, so it was just a matter of filling our camelpak’s, packing our sandwiches and taking my porridge in a bowl to eat on the way. We were gone at 06.50 leaving Luce, Io & Ci sleeping. It wasn’t long before Io joined them in the land of nod in the front of the 4 x 4, this time taking a pillow for comfort. It took me over an hour and a half to drive into the park, but I do admit to stopping to take a few photos of the rising sun casting fantastic colours. We were in before the entrance booth was open; the rangers were still in bed.

We got to Logan Pass just before 8am, to a realtively empty car park, and saddled up (well, we were sill in Montana!) I programmed the Garmin with our route today to take us on 3 separate trails; the Highline Trail (7 miles), Grinnel Glacier Overlook (1.6 miles) and The Loop (4 miles downhill.)

Camera poised, we left thecar park to the start of the Highline trail, as we walked last time with Luce. Amazingly, the snow we had walked in 2 days earlier had virtually disappeared. The snow melts fast around here, hence all the amazing waterfalls. We crossed above the road and made slow progress for the first mile, just stopping to take photos of the most amazing panorama. I never stopped looking over my shoulder for the whole 7 miles of the trail. The Trail is fairly level, but on a very narrow track, very high up. As we walked along the route the valley dropped below us, so we seemedto be getting higher and higher. We ended up crossing quite a lot of snow fields of various sizes and difficulties. The worst was a very exposed snow field with a slippery path of about 12 inches wide. It was very liberating to get to the other side. Shortly after this we came to a collapsed snow bridge, that the Ranger’s had taped off. The only way to cross it was to descend into the stream and out the other side. You can see how dangerous this was when you looked under the ice and the melt water had taken the snow to a very thin veneer a few inches thick. Lethal if you stepped on it. This trail only opened last Friday, which is very late in the season, due to the high snow and all it’s dangers. Ioan and I enjoyed every minute of this traiI, we were in the shade for the first 3 miles and then in bright sunlight. It was nice when we stopped to eat our food; except for the bugs, that multiplied ten fold for every minute we stopped. They even drew blood through my trousers.

We then arrived at the start of the Grinnel Overlook Trail; kicking off at 6,400 and ascending to 7,500 feet in 0.8 of a mile. There was not one flat step as we constantly ascended a scree in hot sunlight. It was extremely hard. In the end I borrowed Io’s pole and ended up hanging off them for every step. i think I must have stopped six or seven times, but never once to enjoy the view. Io told me later he found it hard, but at the time he was like a mountain goat, waiting for me ahead. Oh to be young! As I kept telling all the walkers as I descended the trail, the view was well worth it. We sat just over the edge on some rocks, out of the wind, gangling our feet over the glacier, which just fell away below us. After out failed attempt on the other Grinnell Glacier Trail which would have brought us in at the foot of the glacier, on the trail we could clearly see, I was determined to see thgis glacier from above. The last time i saw a view like this was flying over Greenland, and seeing the small turquiose pools of melt water on the bright white snow. The views were amazing, my photos don’t do it justice so I just stopped taking them.

The glacier has been one of the most photographed glaciers in the park and many of these photographs date back to the mid 19th century. When compared with images taken over subsequent years, the glacier has obviously retreated substantially. In 1850, at the end of what has been referred to as the Little Ice Age, Grinnell Glacier measured 710 acres, including the area of The Salamander Glacier, an ice apron or shelf glacier that used to be attached to Grinnell, but is now separate. By 1993, Grinnell Glacier measured 220 acres and The Salamander measured 57 acres. Between 1966 and 2005, Grinnell Glacier lost almost 40 percent of its acreage. Glaciologists have predicted that all the glaciers in the park, including Grinnell, will disappear by the year 2030. I’m glad we got to see one while we had the chance.

After filling ourselves up with all the food we had brought, it was time to head back down the 1,000 feet to the start of the Loop Trail. This would take us down over 4,500 feet to a point on the Going To The Sun Road where we could catch a shuttle bus from, back to our car at Logan Pass. The descent was going to worry me, because my boots had crushed my toes on the Iceberg Lake descent, so this time I had a plan! Lots of blister tape and my trainers. I kept my boots on for the descent from the overlook as the descent was punishing; it was unbelievably steep going down. Io’s knees were  hurting so he sort of jogged down, which although sounds silly takes a huge strain off the legs. I followed suit.

I got to the top of the Loop Trail and was totally finished, the climb up to the overlook had killed me; I even gave up taking photos! Io was in charge of the camera, and we started dropping like a stone. As we descended off the scree and meadows and into the tree line it became hotter and hotter. I stopped to change into my trainers and were were eaten alive! Within a few minutes my Nike Air trainers gave me renewed energy and we flew down the path of the trail, passing loads of hikers as we jogged down the gradient. It was an amazing feeling. We rounded a corner, however, where we expected the road to be, but didn’t realsie the path took a huge right hand loop. Our hearts and morale dropped, and so did our pace. We virtually crawled back to the shuttle stop, but were landed with our 13 mile hike.

We had to wait for a few shuttles as they were so full, to get back to Logan Pass, which took over an hour due to road works. We jumped into the car to the paradise of air conditioning. I had made a pact with Ioan that he wouldn’t sleep on the hour’s drive home, which he honoured.

We returned home to a worried Luce at 18.30. I had expected to be home early afternoon, but the Grinnell Overlook was our nemesis, taking over 2 hours and all our energy to complete.

Luce was glad to see us back, and had packed up the house ready for an early getaway tomorrow morning. We’ve got our longest run yet; 630 miles through Montana and Idaho and into Utah, Luce’s favourite!
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mcfarlne on

Wow Lyn that must of been some hike! I am aching just reading about it and looking at the photos. If any consolation i did not sleep well last night myself. I went to bed at a reasonable time as so tired and i wake at 0320 (must be the excitement). I was shattered and layed there until 0445 and gave up!

Anyway we will be travelling to London this afternoon, hopefully just before mid day.

Chris :0)

mam on

Dont know if I like reading this !!!Glad you are both back safe and sound even if with sunburnt calves and sore toes.
Of course luce likes Utah its in her blood be glad lyn she didnt make you go over in a wagoon just to reenact .xx

mam on

* wagon cant spell

roz on

Absolutely beautiful!

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