meghan lee harris

September 5, 2019

TRAVEL SERIES | GLACIER & THE CANADIAN ROCKIES

The mountains have a way of humbling you like no other source. Beautiful, majestic, you are just a tiny visitor in *their* world.  I told Alex Glacier National Park was the only National Park I may never be able to visit, just because I heard that it was NOT a place for the faint of heart (all fingers point to me). The only road through the park, appropriately named Going-to-the-Sun-Road is one of the most scenic drives in all of America, and only open a few months in summer. No guardrails, no shoulders. Incredibly narrow, oh and just thousands of feet straight down. Of course the thought of it was absolutely terrifying for me. Add in that all hikes require an average of 7 miles in backcountry smack in the middle of grizzly territory. Kind of like a death mission, no?

But for some reason I can’t help but be drawn to what terrifies the livin crap outta me, what I know will push me out of my comfort zone. Alex had always expressed great interest in Glacier and after checking off a lot of the popular National Parks this past year, I knew that the only US adventure really missing on our list was Glacier. I hugged family members goodbye and researched how to survive bear attacks and sent out all important images from remaining wedding galleries to my brides – just in case we never came back (yes I’m melodramatic, hey ya never know) and off we went towards the great unknown.

After two days of straight driving from eastern Wisconsin to western Montana, we finally arrived in Saint Mary’s – a quaint little town just outside the eastern side of the park. We stayed at the KOA there and set up our tent, and spent the night relaxing before a busy next day of exploring.

GOING TO THE SUN

This particular morning was one that will stand out to me, the first glimpses we ever had of Glacier. We woke up right at dawn and it was such a dreary foggy morning, but it made the drive feel so peaceful and quiet. Moments before the world awakes. The drive going east to west was surprisingly super doable, we were on the inside with the mountain to our side. I knew going back up would be a different story, but I pushed any thoughts of it to the back of my mind so I could focus on the excitement for our first hike – the Avalanche Trail. A 6 miler and a nice, steady introduction to the park.

AVALANCHE TRAIL

The whole hike was wooded but gorgeous nonetheless and at the very end lead to the clearest lake with four waterfalls trickling down in the distance. Tip: If the main overlook part is a little too busy, keep following the trail to the right for more photo ops and seclusion.

Afterwards we pulled over to nearby Lake MacDonald. I have seen some amazing pictures of this lake with colorful stones and crystal clear waters but unfortunately it was too choppy when we went. Tip: pick a super calm day to bring your camera here.

Then it was time for the moment I was dreading since booking our trip – the drive up the mountain, and this time on the edge.

GOING TO THE SUN – Part II

To my surprise I didn’t have to close my eyes once, I actually looked and gawked out the window the entire time. I seriously feel that in a place this beautiful there is no room for fear. You are just in literal AWE. Poor Alex couldn’t look much at all cause he was driving so I took a lot of video and pictures to show him later. This was all a major step up in comparison to last spring when we drove through Sequoia National Park (me whimpering in fetal position the whole time **SO SURE** we were going to die). I think a major key player in all this was that we were in our low-to-the-ground, safe and reliable Mazda 3…So tip!: if you’re afraid of heights, do this drive in a low to the ground CAR.

Video of our drive below. Another tip: Listen to John Denver and all your anxieties will melt away 😉

The next morning was day 2. The last full day in Glacier before heading up to Canada. We were sad to already have to leave it but we were excited for the hike we would be doing all day. We went back & forth on which of the two long hikes we should do – the 11 mile Grinnell Glacier or the 18 mile Highline Trail. Both five star rated and easily the two most popular hikes in the park for adventure junkies. Ultimately, we went with the shorter one (and the one that sounded less like a death wish).

We were told parking lots fill up by 8am so we got a really early start to claim a spot. We were also told you could shave off 3 miles by taking the shuttle boats across two lakes – Switchcurrent and Josephine. So we walked the half mile to the hotel loading dock, only to be told we would have to wait two hours for the next boat departure. So we walked a half mile back to our parked car, adding a mile onto what would already be a grueling hike BUT we got to see the beautiful historic hotel. Tip: Don’t bother with the shuttle boats. You’ll feel much more accomplished doing the hike in it’s entirety.

We set out for the 11 mile hike and 2000 ft climb up to Grinnell Glacier, straight through Grizzly territory (fresh scat and all) and rain in the forecast. As we ascended I kept questioning if my body was even capable, we are not experienced long distance hikers and this one was probably out of our league. But what I love about Glacier is that it requires you to challenge yourself & fully immerse yourself in it. It’s not a step outside your car, in order to fully see this place you must find a trail and get your hands and feet dirty.

The last half of the ascend I could look out and see more in one single view than in any single painting. Multiple turquoise lakes, winding rivers, waterfalls, rolling hills of wildflowers, glaciers, and clouds floating through mountains peaks.

We made it to the top and touched a glacial lake and felt it’s coolness with our hands. We sat there in total disbelief eating our PBJs like giddy school kids, my husband by my side and a memory I will never forget. My body still hurt like hackkk for 3 days after but I will cherish this a LIFETIME. We left Glacier the following day feeling so accomplished (and only wishing we had a littte more time to be able to recover and try out the Highline hike).

GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL

OH CANADA!

We were SO sore the next morning, but all we had on the agenda was the 4 hour drive up to our next destination, Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. We probably should have prepared more for Canada butttttt we kinda weren’t thinking and forgot it’s a totally different country (ya wouldn’t think it just being a couple hour drive up north!) We totally forgot they use kilometers and have a completely different money system and the whole time thought gas was suuuuper cheap, until the very last day when we realized they measure in liters not gallons. EEEEP! Our first glimpse into international travel I suppose. We loved Glacier so much that going into Banff I wondered if we would feel the same. I was told that although they are only four hours apart, the two parks are night and day difference as far as vibe. Glacier is remote and wonderful for backcountry camping and hiking. Banff is more touristy and a “get out of your car and see the view” type setup. Which in turn, brings in a LOT more tourists than you’d ever imagine from all over the world (heyyy you aren’t required to hike 7 miles for the epic instagram-able view).

We camped in the Two Jack Main campground next to Lake Minnewanka, which was still about an hour drive to the popular attractions like Lake Louise & Morraine Lake. We got to our site which was much more in the  wilderness than we were hoping for, being that we were now *definitely* in grizzly territory. There were signs posted everywhere educating about proper trash removal and how to store food and cosmetics (and literally anything at all that has a scent). These signs were even plastered onto our picnic table, they were EVERYWHERE. Which basically made me feel that seeing a bear here would be inevitable if we stayed all 5 nights. We quickly started thinking about how a bed and a nice non-public shower sounded reallll nice at this point. So we drove into the town of Banff (the cuuuutest little mountain town! Seriously felt like we were in the Swiss Alps) and found the one hotel that was under $300/night. PLACE IS EXPENSIVE! This area knows it is a tourist sanctuary and has no problem takin yo cash.

BANFF, ALBERTA

We spent the next morning shopping the downtown boutiques before setting out for Lake Louise & Morraine Lake. We were wishful thinkers though, and we quickly learned the parking lot fills by 6am and shuttle wait times at the nearby park-and-ride were already a 90 minute wait. Maybe if we had gone to Banff first on our trip, we wouldn’t have been as perplexed by the wait times, but after the peace and serenity of Glacier we were a lil frustrated by how touristy this whole area felt so far. We said no to shuttle and went back home to enjoy the views of Lake Minnewanka.

LAKE MINNEWANKA

The second day we decided to get an earlier start to beat the rush, and were surprised to see the wait was even LONGERRR for the shuttles – 2 hours not including the long line to stand and get your ticket. This was our last full day & not wanting to spend hours upon hours in lines, we decided to forego Lake Louise or Morraine . Super bummer because we drove four hours to experience it. By that time we were both kinda on the same page that no matter how good the view may be, it didn’t seem that with ALL these people around it would have been the type of memory worth savoring.

There are two other National Parks near Banff called Yoho and Jasper, with Yoho being closer. So we continued on to Emerald Lake at Yoho National Park hoping it would be a little less crowded – we were happy to see it did NOT require to wait 2 hours for a shuttle. Hooray!

EMERALD LAKE – BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

Emerald Lake was super picturesque but still very touristy. If we ever come back to the Canadian rockies someday I will definitely choose spring or fall. Although beautiful, we realized after Day 2 that Banff and anything near Banff was a little too crowded for what we were going for. We headed back to Lake Minnewanka to meet up with a Spokane, WA couple (who was also out in Banff area for their wedding anniversary!) got dressed up and did a little photo swap. You can see there session here! Afterwards Alex and I decided to end our trip one day early and go back to Glacier the following morning to conquer the Highline hike. We just needed to survive the first and only night in the tent.

It was 4am when Alex woke me up in the middle of the night. “Meghan, shhh! I hear a bear and you’re breathing really loud. It’s going to hear you.” Delirious, I barely remember the next 10 minutes as I woke up from my sleep and we laid there – barely breathing and listening to the crunches in the trees. After 10 minutes Alex (somehow!) drifted back off to sleep. Leaving me alone in total freaking fear. Wide awake and now on bear patrol, I spent the rest of the night googling articles on how to survive bears in your tent. Let me tell you – do not even look. We had bear spray and two rambo knives next to our pillows yet daylight still could still not come soon enough.

Thankfully we awoke still alive, all body parts there. No blood trails. And got the heck out of there bright and early. We were anxious to get back to Glacier (and be back in the land of US dollar). We stayed at the KOA again, and after we set up our tent we decided to go check out nearby Saint Mary’s lake.

I am a water bug and there’s never been water too cold for me to jump into, but let me tell you THIS water was something else. I couldn’t get in past my knees without going numb. After standing in the water and enjoying the view for about an hour and losing all feeling in my toes, we were about to head back when Alex decided he wanted to do this:

And then we were reborn again and ready for tomorrow’s Highline hike!

Being the hardest hike in the park, I was a little nervous & not sure what to expect. But as we got to the parking lot my worries subsided and I just was so anxious to experience this. I was told if you want to fully see Glacier, THIS is the way to do it. So whenever I’m told something like that, I have to do it. I mean, who knows if we will ever get back here someday, or what kind of shape we would even be in. We packed up our snacks, laced up our hiking boots, and off we went (can you tell in the first few pictures I’m second guessing myself? 😉

HIGHLINE TRAIL – LOGAN’S PASS TO THE LOOP

The first 1/3 of this hike you were treated with neverending views and was arguably the most enjoyable part of the hike. If you are like me and afraid of heights but can make it past the first little bit with the dropoff and Going-To-The-Sun-Road beneath your feet, then you can accomplish the rest of the hike. But the whole first half of the trail was relatively level and wide enough so I was able to keep my anxiety at bay and be excited for each new step and each new view that awaited.

After however many miles we reached the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trailhead, which was another 0.6 mile and 1000 ft ascent up to the top. We saw people skipping over it but we knew we had come this far, we had to complete the final hoorah to the top. We had to stop about 15 times on our way up to catch our breath (don’t let pride get the better of you here, take your breaks). But at last, we made it to the summit!

GRINNELL GLACIER OVERLOOK

Tip: go to the right another hundred or so feet and you will get the view of all five lakes. We were lucky to have another man Brian decide to join us up the unbeaten path, otherwise I might have been too afraid to do it just us 2 since it looked like a big unwelcoming rockpile climb to the top. But he went first so I felt safe with us trailing behind 😉 We stayed up there us 3 and snacked a little and made conversation that I don’t even remember because my mind was on such a euphoric high from being both so tired and so overcome by what we just accomplished. We swapped photos and then made for the .6 steep descend back down (which was MUCH harder than coming up. Poor Alex’s knees were done).

The whole rest of the 4 mile descend back down to the shuttle loop was so tiring. Going down 5000 feet is not easy and my joints craved being able to walk on flat ground again. We were also passing through part of the trail that was closed just a couple days prior due to aggressive grizzlies so I was on high alert. Tip: buy a bear bell and attach it to your backpack. This will prevent any “surprise encounters”, they typically run away from noise they hear coming. If you don’t have a bell then just keep conversation or sing a song. We passed by so much scat I thought we’d never make it out alive but at last we saw the cars parked and I knew I just had completed one of the craziest things I have ever done in my life, in the worst shape I’ve ever been in my life. We slept like little babies and then couldn’t stand up or walk the next morning to pack everything up. Thankfully we had a loooong drive of sitting ahead.

Overall Glacier was UNREAL.

We had four full days in Glacier and 2 in Banff and that seemed perfect for everything we wanted to accomplish. Maybe my mind works differently than most (I’m a person that prefers a road trip across country vs a plane ticket) but I love that in Glacier the view was our reward, we earned it. It wasn’t just a step off a shuttle, it was a freaking JOURNEY getting around and it made the summit view seem that much more spectacular. We anticipated the view with each step, and afterwards when our feet were almost numb and felt like our legs were no longer attached to us, it was still worth it.

After Yellowstone we didn’t think it was possible for a place to move us as much, but Glacier now makes the very top of our list for favorite places we’ve been. You have to go to really understand, these pictures will never do this place justice. I hope you enjoyed our little glimpse into this mega monstrous amazing National Park and if you plan on visiting or have any questions, leave us a comment!

PS: These glaciers are expected to be melted by 2030. So if you’re thinking of going, go go go! Before it’s gone! And if you’re planning on taking the trip (or any big trip) I encourage you to download the All Trails mobile app – this is how we research every single trail ahead of time to decide which are best fits (as well as checking our current status while on trails that are poorly marked). It has seriously been our lifeline this past year of travel.

Until next time!

Road Trip Soundtrack: Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Meg’s Favorite Memory: Facing (conquering?) my crippling fear of heights, Eating PBJ’s & staring out into Upper Grinnell Glacier lake, completing the craziest hike I’ve done (Highline trail) + climbing to the very top of Grinnell Glacier Overlook for the 5-lake view.

Al’s Favorite Memory: The 5 lake view of Grinnell Glacier Overlook, the polar plunge at Saint Mary’s Lake

What we could have done without: the whole Canada portion =\

What we could NOT have done without: The 18 mile Highline trail and all it’s views – this is your best stab at *really* seeing Glacier National Park

The mountains have a way of humbling you like no other source. Beautiful, majestic, you are just a tiny visitor in *their* world.  I told Alex Glacier National Park was the only National Park I may never be able to visit, just because I heard that it was NOT a place for the faint of heart (all fingers point to me). The only road through the park, appropriately named Going-to-the-Sun-Road is one of the most scenic drives in all of America, and only open a few months in summer. No guardrails, no shoulders. Incredibly narrow, oh and just thousands of feet straight down. Of course the thought of it was absolutely terrifying for me. Add in that all hikes require an average of 7 miles in backcountry smack in the middle of grizzly territory. Kind of like a death mission, no?

But for some reason I can’t help but be drawn to what terrifies the livin crap outta me, what I know will push me out of my comfort zone. Alex had always expressed great interest in Glacier and after checking off a lot of the popular National Parks this past year, I knew that the only US adventure really missing on our list was Glacier. I hugged family members goodbye and researched how to survive bear attacks and sent out all important images from remaining wedding galleries to my brides – just in case we never came back (yes I’m melodramatic, hey ya never know) and off we went towards the great unknown.

After two days of straight driving from eastern Wisconsin to western Montana, we finally arrived in Saint Mary’s – a quaint little town just outside the eastern side of the park. We stayed at the KOA there and set up our tent, and spent the night relaxing before a busy next day of exploring.

GOING TO THE SUN

This particular morning was one that will stand out to me, the first glimpses we ever had of Glacier. We woke up right at dawn and it was such a dreary foggy morning, but it made the drive feel so peaceful and quiet. Moments before the world awakes. The drive going east to west was surprisingly super doable, we were on the inside with the mountain to our side. I knew going back up would be a different story, but I pushed any thoughts of it to the back of my mind so I could focus on the excitement for our first hike – the Avalanche Trail. A 6 miler and a nice, steady introduction to the park.

AVALANCHE TRAIL

The whole hike was wooded but gorgeous nonetheless and at the very end lead to the clearest lake with four waterfalls trickling down in the distance. Tip: If the main overlook part is a little too busy, keep following the trail to the right for more photo ops and seclusion.

Afterwards we pulled over to nearby Lake MacDonald. I have seen some amazing pictures of this lake with colorful stones and crystal clear waters but unfortunately it was too choppy when we went. Tip: pick a super calm day to bring your camera here.

Then it was time for the moment I was dreading since booking our trip – the drive up the mountain, and this time on the edge.

GOING TO THE SUN – Part II

To my surprise I didn’t have to close my eyes once, I actually looked and gawked out the window the entire time. I seriously feel that in a place this beautiful there is no room for fear. You are just in literal AWE. Poor Alex couldn’t look much at all cause he was driving so I took a lot of video and pictures to show him later. This was all a major step up in comparison to last spring when we drove through Sequoia National Park (me whimpering in fetal position the whole time **SO SURE** we were going to die). I think a major key player in all this was that we were in our low-to-the-ground, safe and reliable Mazda 3…So tip!: if you’re afraid of heights, do this drive in a low to the ground CAR.

Video of our drive below. Another tip: Listen to John Denver and all your anxieties will melt away 😉

The next morning was day 2. The last full day in Glacier before heading up to Canada. We were sad to already have to leave it but we were excited for the hike we would be doing all day. We went back & forth on which of the two long hikes we should do – the 11 mile Grinnell Glacier or the 18 mile Highline Trail. Both five star rated and easily the two most popular hikes in the park for adventure junkies. Ultimately, we went with the shorter one (and the one that sounded less like a death wish).

We were told parking lots fill up by 8am so we got a really early start to claim a spot. We were also told you could shave off 3 miles by taking the shuttle boats across two lakes – Switchcurrent and Josephine. So we walked the half mile to the hotel loading dock, only to be told we would have to wait two hours for the next boat departure. So we walked a half mile back to our parked car, adding a mile onto what would already be a grueling hike BUT we got to see the beautiful historic hotel. Tip: Don’t bother with the shuttle boats. You’ll feel much more accomplished doing the hike in it’s entirety.

We set out for the 11 mile hike and 2000 ft climb up to Grinnell Glacier, straight through Grizzly territory (fresh scat and all) and rain in the forecast. As we ascended I kept questioning if my body was even capable, we are not experienced long distance hikers and this one was probably out of our league. But what I love about Glacier is that it requires you to challenge yourself & fully immerse yourself in it. It’s not a step outside your car, in order to fully see this place you must find a trail and get your hands and feet dirty.

The last half of the ascend I could look out and see more in one single view than in any single painting. Multiple turquoise lakes, winding rivers, waterfalls, rolling hills of wildflowers, glaciers, and clouds floating through mountains peaks.

We made it to the top and touched a glacial lake and felt it’s coolness with our hands. We sat there in total disbelief eating our PBJs like giddy school kids, my husband by my side and a memory I will never forget. My body still hurt like hackkk for 3 days after but I will cherish this a LIFETIME. We left Glacier the following day feeling so accomplished (and only wishing we had a littte more time to be able to recover and try out the Highline hike).

GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL

OH CANADA!

We were SO sore the next morning, but all we had on the agenda was the 4 hour drive up to our next destination, Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. We probably should have prepared more for Canada butttttt we kinda weren’t thinking and forgot it’s a totally different country (ya wouldn’t think it just being a couple hour drive up north!) We totally forgot they use kilometers and have a completely different money system and the whole time thought gas was suuuuper cheap, until the very last day when we realized they measure in liters not gallons. EEEEP! Our first glimpse into international travel I suppose. We loved Glacier so much that going into Banff I wondered if we would feel the same. I was told that although they are only four hours apart, the two parks are night and day difference as far as vibe. Glacier is remote and wonderful for backcountry camping and hiking. Banff is more touristy and a “get out of your car and see the view” type setup. Which in turn, brings in a LOT more tourists than you’d ever imagine from all over the world (heyyy you aren’t required to hike 7 miles for the epic instagram-able view).

We camped in the Two Jack Main campground next to Lake Minnewanka, which was still about an hour drive to the popular attractions like Lake Louise & Morraine Lake. We got to our site which was much more in the  wilderness than we were hoping for, being that we were now *definitely* in grizzly territory. There were signs posted everywhere educating about proper trash removal and how to store food and cosmetics (and literally anything at all that has a scent). These signs were even plastered onto our picnic table, they were EVERYWHERE. Which basically made me feel that seeing a bear here would be inevitable if we stayed all 5 nights. We quickly started thinking about how a bed and a nice non-public shower sounded reallll nice at this point. So we drove into the town of Banff (the cuuuutest little mountain town! Seriously felt like we were in the Swiss Alps) and found the one hotel that was under $300/night. PLACE IS EXPENSIVE! This area knows it is a tourist sanctuary and has no problem takin yo cash.

BANFF, ALBERTA

We spent the next morning shopping the downtown boutiques before setting out for Lake Louise & Morraine Lake. We were wishful thinkers though, and we quickly learned the parking lot fills by 6am and shuttle wait times at the nearby park-and-ride were already a 90 minute wait. Maybe if we had gone to Banff first on our trip, we wouldn’t have been as perplexed by the wait times, but after the peace and serenity of Glacier we were a lil frustrated by how touristy this whole area felt so far. We said no to shuttle and went back home to enjoy the views of Lake Minnewanka.

LAKE MINNEWANKA

The second day we decided to get an earlier start to beat the rush, and were surprised to see the wait was even LONGERRR for the shuttles – 2 hours not including the long line to stand and get your ticket. This was our last full day & not wanting to spend hours upon hours in lines, we decided to forego Lake Louise or Morraine . Super bummer because we drove four hours to experience it. By that time we were both kinda on the same page that no matter how good the view may be, it didn’t seem that with ALL these people around it would have been the type of memory worth savoring.

There are two other National Parks near Banff called Yoho and Jasper, with Yoho being closer. So we continued on to Emerald Lake at Yoho National Park hoping it would be a little less crowded – we were happy to see it did NOT require to wait 2 hours for a shuttle. Hooray!

EMERALD LAKE – BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

Emerald Lake was super picturesque but still very touristy. If we ever come back to the Canadian rockies someday I will definitely choose spring or fall. Although beautiful, we realized after Day 2 that Banff and anything near Banff was a little too crowded for what we were going for. We headed back to Lake Minnewanka to meet up with a Spokane, WA couple (who was also out in Banff area for their wedding anniversary!) got dressed up and did a little photo swap. You can see there session here! Afterwards Alex and I decided to end our trip one day early and go back to Glacier the following morning to conquer the Highline hike. We just needed to survive the first and only night in the tent.

It was 4am when Alex woke me up in the middle of the night. “Meghan, shhh! I hear a bear and you’re breathing really loud. It’s going to hear you.” Delirious, I barely remember the next 10 minutes as I woke up from my sleep and we laid there – barely breathing and listening to the crunches in the trees. After 10 minutes Alex (somehow!) drifted back off to sleep. Leaving me alone in total freaking fear. Wide awake and now on bear patrol, I spent the rest of the night googling articles on how to survive bears in your tent. Let me tell you – do not even look. We had bear spray and two rambo knives next to our pillows yet daylight still could still not come soon enough.

Thankfully we awoke still alive, all body parts there. No blood trails. And got the heck out of there bright and early. We were anxious to get back to Glacier (and be back in the land of US dollar). We stayed at the KOA again, and after we set up our tent we decided to go check out nearby Saint Mary’s lake.

I am a water bug and there’s never been water too cold for me to jump into, but let me tell you THIS water was something else. I couldn’t get in past my knees without going numb. After standing in the water and enjoying the view for about an hour and losing all feeling in my toes, we were about to head back when Alex decided he wanted to do this:

And then we were reborn again and ready for tomorrow’s Highline hike!

Being the hardest hike in the park, I was a little nervous & not sure what to expect. But as we got to the parking lot my worries subsided and I just was so anxious to experience this. I was told if you want to fully see Glacier, THIS is the way to do it. So whenever I’m told something like that, I have to do it. I mean, who knows if we will ever get back here someday, or what kind of shape we would even be in. We packed up our snacks, laced up our hiking boots, and off we went (can you tell in the first few pictures I’m second guessing myself? 😉

HIGHLINE TRAIL – LOGAN’S PASS TO THE LOOP

The first 1/3 of this hike you were treated with neverending views and was arguably the most enjoyable part of the hike. If you are like me and afraid of heights but can make it past the first little bit with the dropoff and Going-To-The-Sun-Road beneath your feet, then you can accomplish the rest of the hike. But the whole first half of the trail was relatively level and wide enough so I was able to keep my anxiety at bay and be excited for each new step and each new view that awaited.

After however many miles we reached the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trailhead, which was another 0.6 mile and 1000 ft ascent up to the top. We saw people skipping over it but we knew we had come this far, we had to complete the final hoorah to the top. We had to stop about 15 times on our way up to catch our breath (don’t let pride get the better of you here, take your breaks). But at last, we made it to the summit!

GRINNELL GLACIER OVERLOOK

Tip: go to the right another hundred or so feet and you will get the view of all five lakes. We were lucky to have another man Brian decide to join us up the unbeaten path, otherwise I might have been too afraid to do it just us 2 since it looked like a big unwelcoming rockpile climb to the top. But he went first so I felt safe with us trailing behind 😉 We stayed up there us 3 and snacked a little and made conversation that I don’t even remember because my mind was on such a euphoric high from being both so tired and so overcome by what we just accomplished. We swapped photos and then made for the .6 steep descend back down (which was MUCH harder than coming up. Poor Alex’s knees were done).

The whole rest of the 4 mile descend back down to the shuttle loop was so tiring. Going down 5000 feet is not easy and my joints craved being able to walk on flat ground again. We were also passing through part of the trail that was closed just a couple days prior due to aggressive grizzlies so I was on high alert. Tip: buy a bear bell and attach it to your backpack. This will prevent any “surprise encounters”, they typically run away from noise they hear coming. If you don’t have a bell then just keep conversation or sing a song. We passed by so much scat I thought we’d never make it out alive but at last we saw the cars parked and I knew I just had completed one of the craziest things I have ever done in my life, in the worst shape I’ve ever been in my life. We slept like little babies and then couldn’t stand up or walk the next morning to pack everything up. Thankfully we had a loooong drive of sitting ahead.

Overall Glacier was UNREAL.

We had four full days in Glacier and 2 in Banff and that seemed perfect for everything we wanted to accomplish. Maybe my mind works differently than most (I’m a person that prefers a road trip across country vs a plane ticket) but I love that in Glacier the view was our reward, we earned it. It wasn’t just a step off a shuttle, it was a freaking JOURNEY getting around and it made the summit view seem that much more spectacular. We anticipated the view with each step, and afterwards when our feet were almost numb and felt like our legs were no longer attached to us, it was still worth it.

After Yellowstone we didn’t think it was possible for a place to move us as much, but Glacier now makes the very top of our list for favorite places we’ve been. You have to go to really understand, these pictures will never do this place justice. I hope you enjoyed our little glimpse into this mega monstrous amazing National Park and if you plan on visiting or have any questions, leave us a comment!

PS: These glaciers are expected to be melted by 2030. So if you’re thinking of going, go go go! Before it’s gone! And if you’re planning on taking the trip (or any big trip) I encourage you to download the All Trails mobile app – this is how we research every single trail ahead of time to decide which are best fits (as well as checking our current status while on trails that are poorly marked). It has seriously been our lifeline this past year of travel.

Until next time!

Road Trip Soundtrack: Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Meg’s Favorite Memory: Facing (conquering?) my crippling fear of heights, Eating PBJ’s & staring out into Upper Grinnell Glacier lake, completing the craziest hike I’ve done (Highline trail) + climbing to the very top of Grinnell Glacier Overlook for the 5-lake view.

Al’s Favorite Memory: The 5 lake view of Grinnell Glacier Overlook, the polar plunge at Saint Mary’s Lake

What we could have done without: the whole Canada portion =\

What we could NOT have done without: The 18 mile Highline trail and all it’s views – this is your best stab at *really* seeing Glacier National Park

TRAVEL SERIES | GLACIER & THE CANADIAN ROCKIES

September 5, 2019

  1. Elise Armock

    September 5th, 2019 at 7:48 PM

    I read this in its entirety and fully enjoyed it Meghan. I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have read it all (would have only looked at the stunning photos ) if I hadn’t just been to Olympic National Park last month. I always felt that I was a beach person and not a mountain person… until I actually SAW one with my own eyes. It’s something you really have to experience for yourself to understand how special it is, and what it does to your soul. I literally CANNOT wait to get back to Olympic but after reading your blog on Glacier I’m adding it to the list so thanks!! Xoxoxo

  2. mharris

    September 5th, 2019 at 7:55 PM

    Oh my goodness I could go on and on about the mountains and their beauty but I’m already so long winded LOL! 😉 As you can see! So so glad you were able to get out to Olympic, it’s been high up on our bucket list. It’s so crazy how once you get a glimpse of what’s out there how impossible it is to stop dreaming up the next! Hope you get a chance to see Glacier and if you do – certainly let me know!!!

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