It’s that time again friends. We are bringing you another installment in
the Amazing Besties National Park Road Trip series. This was one of the most epic friend adventures either of us have ever had, so if you like best friend hijinks these posts are for you. If you’re into pretty photos of natural wonders, you have come to the right place! 10 states. 9 National Parks and 1 National Monument. One summer of fun!
Want to catch up? Check out the rest of the series here.
Glacier National Park – Park #6!
Homeland of the Niitsítapi (Blackfoot)*
We set out from Yellowstone in the mid-morning, ready for an easy 6 hour drive to Glacier National Park. We were scheduled to arrive in Portland, OR for the annual Ecological Society of America conference in just about two weeks. We were both getting a little nervous about putting the finishing touches on our talks, so we took a long working lunch break, feeling like we still had plenty of time!
Arriving at the Saint Mary Visitor Center a little after dark, we found no campsite openings on the eastern edge of the park. Not deterred, we decided to drive into the park until we came to a campsite with some openings. No big deal (it was)! Driving the Going-to-the-Sun road across the continental divide in the middle of the night is not recommended by us. This road is the stereotype of every windy, mountain road you can think of, and we were further slowed by pointing and yelling “Glacier” (they were not) at every large pile of snow we saw on the roadside.
We came back out of the park on the eastern side well after midnight with no campsite acquired. So, we slept in our car. It was worth it for the sweet campsite we got the next morning (pre-10 am is prime time for first-come campsites), and the chance to watch the sunrise over Lake McDonald.
The next morning, on advice from the friendly folks at the Apgar Visitor Center, we hopped back on the Going-to-the-Sun road, which was even more impressive in the daylight, and headed to the Logan Pass area to hike out toward Hidden Lake.
The trail crew was hard at work clearing this footpath, which crosses over the continental divide twice! There were also so many mountain goats. More one these later.
The views on this hike were not overhyped. Rachel kept mentioning how much this area looked like the Swiss Alps to her.
The trail continued on town to the shore of the lake. Rachel is almost physically incapable of resisting the urge to dip her toes into wild bodies of water, so we gamely headed down the trail.
More goats. Cool. This seems fine. (But also, they have horns and are kind of big.)
It was around this point that we happened upon an outhouse, which we were both excited to use! Rachel went in first and, while she was doing her buisness, she heard a little bit of a bustle from outside. Then, she head Meridith.
*nervous giggle* “Don’t come out”
*now from the other side of the outhouse* “Don’t come out. This goat is chasing me.”
“…do you need…help?”
“No just, I’m going to lead him away. Come out, now, now!”
What a brave bestie.
Then Rachel convinced Mer to walk through this shallow part of the lake to a very pretty picnic spot. It wasn’t intended to be a friendship test, but apparently it was. Mer didn’t talk until we had crossed back over and warmed up our feet in the sun. (Note: I’m not entirely sure how Rachel convinced me that the water wouldn’t be that cold….it’s GLACIER National Park. I am a delicate, warm water only kind of lady.)
That night, we went into town to a bar, aptly named the Stonefly Lounge, to work on our ESA talks. It went pretty well and we had a fun time. This was also when we got in our only fight of the trip. Neither of us remember what it was about, but it was probably fueled by lack of sleep and science related stress. No matter how much you love each other, sleeping in a plastic bin full of your own clothes in the back of a car can make you grumpy. We slept it off, and life went on.
Next day, we were still feeling pretty tired, so we decided to take it easy. We hiked to some lakes, and some waterfalls, which we have forgotten the names of, but were stunning.
We ended our last evening in Glacier with some bomb campfire food.
Which we eventually turned into poop. Speaking of pooping in the park, did you know that because of the partial government shutdown, there have been big issues with sanitation at many National Park sites? If you visit parks during the shutdown, make sure and follow leave no trace principles. You could also consider finding a local conservation group doing park clean-up during the shut down and volunteer with them!
*Know whose land you are hiking on when you visit National Parks and other lands the US Government currently considers public lands. Check out this resource.