Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 49: Many Glacier to Granite Park

My father picked us up for a last meal at Many Glacier Lodge. Yesterday, a family had invited him to camp with them (the backcountry and hiker/biker sites are only for people without cars and the car campground was full), so he invited Bob, Mitch, and Annika to join us for breakfast. The view from the lodge was incredible, with the golden morning light warming the mountains across the lake. 

After a quick stop at the ranger station for Sierra to turn in her completed booklet and become a Glacier National Park Junior Ranger, we were back on the trail. Stunning views greeted us around every corner: golden red mountains rising from behind Redrock and Bullhead Lakes, fields of colorful wildflowers, ripe huckleberries, and waterfalls cascading over rocky cliffs. We reached the huge rock cairns of Swiftcurrent Pass, and quickly descended to our camp at Granite Park in time for lunch. 

We devised all sorts of ambitious plans over lunch, but were lulled into a relaxed stupor by the food and the sunshine and spent most of the afternoon reading instead. Two rangers stopped by to clean out the open air "room with a view" pit toilet. Maggie and Mike arrived by midafternoon, and we had fun talking, sharing stories, and discovering all the friends we have in common within the thru-hiking community. 

A doe casually munched on another hiker's blue hiking shirt, trying to extract the salt. Jim jumped up from the food prep area and dashed back to his camp, somehow extracting the shirt from the doe. Mike's pole straps were also wet and slobbery. Later, the doe walked through the food prep area with her two spotted fawns. 

After dinner, Sierra and I hiked up to the Glacier Park Chalet, a historic site listed on both the national and worldwide registers. We sipped hot chocolate and cider while listening to an interesting talk about the history of the chalet, the glaciation that formed the park, the 23 remaining glaciers, and the local plants and animals. The almost full moon rose over the mountains as we hiked back to camp, providing a perfect ending to a perfect day. 

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