Glacier National Park – Elana Visit

After a quiet week to ourselves, Elana came thru to have a look at Montana.  Being the smart woman she is, Elana took our advice and stayed a full week which would give her a chance to really soak in country life.Neighborhood


Tour of the neighborhood

As a bonus, she got to experience the insane weather events that mosey on through Big Arm.


The storm was moving east over Big Arm Bay at an incredible pace, dumping rain on Flathead Lake, and providing for an INSANE experience where it appeared the rainbow led the charge.

Glacier NP

The relaxing first day of the visit was a nice way to ease into the intensity of a Glacier weekend.  For our last foray into the park – for this trip – we decided to head back to Many Glacier and hike Grinnell Glacier Trail.  Since the forecast for Sunday was cloudy, we made sure to take Going-To-The-Sun-Road on the way in so Elana could get the full Glacier NP experience.


She was pretty pumped about it.

Once we arrived at East Glacier we headed to our go-to campground, Chewing Blackbones; it’s 25 minutes from the trail and always has plenty of space.

Camp 1

We chilled by the fire, had a couple drinks and got to sleep early in anticipation of the hike.

Grinnell Glacier Trail – 11 miles round trip, elevating over 2,000 ft

One of the many fantastic aspects of this hike is that the ill sh*t starts 5 minutes in and doesn’t stop.

Hike 1

The trail begins by hugging Switftcurrent Lake which transitions into Lake Josephine providing for a relatively flat walk to start.  Once the trail approaches the back end of Lake Josephine, the climbing begins.

Hike 2.1

YES! We know there are bears roaming around Glacier NP; you don’t have to scare the shit out of us right when we’re getting to the good part of the hike.

Hike 3.1

Just kidding…it’s probably a good thing.

Moving on…the hike starts to really elevate at this point revealing the types of views you only get at high altitude.

Hike 3

The trail was definitely well traveled (which is a good thing in an area where bears frequent) and we took an opportunity to get a picture of all three of us.

Hike 4

Old dude who took it asked if we were European.  We must seem really out of place…

Walking up to Grinnell Lake was amazing.

Hike 5.2

The sun was hitting it just right as we approached and we decided to plop down and recharge on some jerky.

Hike 5

And of course have a photo shoot of this ridiculous view.

The remainder of the climb brought dropping temperatures accompanied by steep and rocky terrain.  In our experience, the hardest treks provide for the most rewarding experience which could only mean one thing: the Grinnell Glacier is going to be ridiculous.

Hike 6

So it’s more of a melting Glacier…incredible nonetheless; worth every step.

The way back (the mission), as always, provides a totally different perspective making going down as awe inspiring as the way up.

Hike 7

From this viewpoint all three lakes are visible in succession: Grinnell Lake, Lake Josephine, Swiftcurrent Lake

After the hike, Amy and Elana thought it would be a good idea to rinse the day off in really REALLY cold water.

Once they came to their senses and got out we headed back to camp for a relaxing night by the fire.

Camp 2

The next morning it started to hail – yes it was hailing – in Glacier and we hauled ass back to Big Arm.

We spent the last couple days of Elana’s trip working during the day and hanging around Flathead Lake in the evenings.

We paid a visit to the Flathead Lake Brew Pub on the way to dinner in Big Fork

Flathead Brewery

And of course got some paddle boarding in.

Paddle 1

Can you see em?

Chica even managed to get on the water.

Paddle 2

This was the perfect week to precede the “wind down weeks” leading to our departure at the end of September.

Hiking in the Bitterroot National Forest

Being based in Big Arm we are in outdoor recreation heaven, literally surrounded by multiple National Forests (Kootenai, Lolo, Bitterroot, Flathead) and of course to the Northeast the crown jewel, Glacier NP.  Suffice to say our inner-explorer requires us to see as much of all this as possible which left Lolo and Bitterroot on the table.

With the Labor Day Weekend weather forecast in Bitterroot’s favor, we chose to hike Bass Creek Trail which conveniently had a couple of campgrounds close to the trailhead.


We arrived at Charles Waters campground around 4 on Friday afternoon half expecting it to be full when we found two remaining sites available – that never happens!  Luckily we didn’t arrive any later than we did; over the next few hours we witnessed multiple vehicles with optimistic looking occupants circle around looking for sites only to have their hopes dashed as none were available.  Been there.

With our site secure, we settled in and set up shop.


As usual we had an enjoyable evening stargazing by the campfire before calling it a night.


Not sure who was happier about being able to cuddle in bed together, Amy or Chica.

Bass Creek Trail

We slept in a bit the next morning and took our time with breakfast anticipating a relatively easy hike of about 7.5 miles round trip with 1,200 ft of elevation (about a 5 hour hike).


As we started, it became obvious that this would not be a cake walk.  The elevation was continuous and the first obstacle brought back memories of the Kootenai hike where I clumsily fell off a log into the river.


Well, no one fell on this day!

Once we hit the fork in the trail (one leading to the falls and the other to the lake) we decided to stick with the main trail to the lake.


The hike’s jagged topography was gorgeous!


Arriving at our second crossing, the options were to navigate a VERY slim log cross or to simply walk through it.  Remembering again the spill I took last time, we decided to walk across.



The water left our feet frozen by the time we reached the other side, but I must say our feet felt completely rejuvenated – once we could feel them again.

We continued along the trail for awhile longer and realized about 4 miles in that we were somehow only half way to our destination. A 16 mile round trip hike with thousands of extra feet in elevation was not in the cards and we decided to head back.

(After reading reviews on multiple sites, the hike length and elevation guidance on All Trails was grossly underestimated)

We had an enjoyable evening back at camp and headed home Sunday for some homemade Sushi.


Doing Montana Things

A fun filled, action packed couple of weeks wrapped up when Gabe and Alex headed home and Eric went on his own journey into Glacier.  The abrupt change from multiple visitors and back to back activity is always an immediate downer, but getting back to “real life” can be refreshing as well.


Nothing like waking up to a serene morning with a cup of coffee on the porch.


And going for a grueling, yet rewarding, ride down and back up the mountain.

We got our heads back into working that week and on Friday treated ourselves to a yummy meal at a very legit BBQ spot in Polson: Cherries.


Yes that says: “Slow Pig Funeral Ahead”! Love that.

We took it easy the next morning and got revved up for our day on the lake.


Amy had fun driving


And of course lounging!


While the winds were high limiting our ability to completely explore the fickle Flathead Lake, we were able to tour around a bit and found someone repping Temple hard!



That evening, Eric arrived back in Big Arm after his backpacking adventure.  We had an easy night at home and were well rested for our horseback ride the following day  in Glacier on the Lake McDonald horse trail.


NO WAY we leave Montana without getting on a horse!

After an enjoyable trot on horseback, we stopped at Tamarack Brewery for some pizza and beer before heading home to Big Arm.


Yup, life is good!