And exactly why am I hiking through snow??!!

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To travel west to east through Glacier National Park, you have to take the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 52-mile road up and over the Continental Divide is an amazing engineering feat that took 20 years to complete (by 1933).  We took our first ride on the road via the free shuttle that stops at certain points along the way.  The road sometimes runs along the side of the mountain, with steep drop-offs on the side and only a two foot rock wall as a protection. (True confessions - I have a fear of heights that is not usually acute, but caused me to look the other way on parts of the road!)

Our goal that day was to drive to Logan Pass – the summit for the Going-to-the-Sun Road at 6646 feet and located at the Continental Divide.  We had read about a 3-mile roundtrip hike from the Logan Pass Visitor Center to Hidden Lake.  According to the guidebook, it was a moderate hike through mountain meadows.  We started on a boardwalk, but didn't get far before we encountered snow covering the trail.  It turned out that most of the trail was covered with snow and it was uphill most of the way.  Given the time of year, the snow wasn’t powdery and fresh but hard-packed and slippery at many spots.  Luckily, we came prepared with hiking poles and, of course, hiking boots and layered clothing.  Others on the trail started off with sandals and even heels!  Many people we passed said they were envious of our poles since they made hiking the snowy trail a lot easier than without – but it wasn’t easy at all.  Quite a few times, I thought maybe we should turn back, but when I saw older hikers and parents with kids on their backs continuing, I felt like a wimp and trudged on.  At around a mile on the trail, you had to walk up a steep embankment that was the roughest point of the hike.  But once we got beyond that, it got easier.

As we got closer to the lake, we shared the trail with mountain goats and their kids.  With the goats and mountains surrounding us, I felt a little like the fictional Heidi and thought I should start yodeling (luckily for our fellow hikers, I refrained!).   The Hidden Lake was nestled in a glacial cirque and was still partially frozen – the view was worth the hike.   We ate our lunch at the overlook, rested and then started the trek back.  It didn’t take as long because the trail back was mostly downhill, but the icy slopes had to be walked in a sideways direction and in doing so, I slipped and sprained my knee.   On the other hand, teens and young children were skipping down the hill as if there really were meadows and not icy snow! 

Next to the short backpacking trip I did with Jim in Yellowstone backcountry in 2004, this was the most physically challenging hike I had taken – "moderate" hike, indeed! 
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