Montana – Glacier National Park (July 2016)

(Day 0) – After a good 12+ hour road trip from Black Hills, South Dakota the boys were so excited to arrive at our next destination, a tiny cabin in the woods in Polebridge, Montana.

Our Home in Polebridge, Montana
Our Home in Polebridge, Montana
Local Mercantile and Town Area
Local Mercantile and Town Area

Why Polebridge?  A small town of homes with a mercantile nestled in the middle of nowhere with fantastic views of the mountains located just 15 miles from the Canadian border and 25 miles from civilization was exactly the experience we were seeking.  With lots of groceries and bottled water in tow, we set foot in our new home for the next few days – a cabin or ‘structure’ with no running water, limited solar and gas energy and a welcoming outhouse…new experiences on the horizon!

Great picnic lunch and lake views while fishing
Great picnic lunch and views while fishing at Bowman Lake – Glacier National Park

(Day 1) – First day to explore Glacier National Park, while in the car heading towards our first hike with bear spray and mace in pockets, reading all the animal warning signs, just days after an unfortunate death in the park from a bear attack, when we see a mountain lion.  Picture didn’t do it justice, as it had just run into the woods and was quickly on the prowl.

Austin is in love with fishing!
Austin is in love with fishing!

Took a 4-mile hike – most remote to date thus we were especially loud (not too difficult with a 3 and 5-year-old with every song in the arsenal) to ensure we didn’t advertently surprise a bear.  Beautiful views from the lake for our picnic lunch and fishing attempt.

 

We were ready to head home to get settled in and upon arrival noticed the house smelled like propane – concerning.  Without any phone reception, internet, etc. opted to take the safest approach possible – just turn off the tank and air out the house to the best of our ability.  After an hour or two, decided to go for a walk and find a friendly neighbor – with several days remaining foregoing the minimal luxuries we had (i.e., stove and fridge) was not ideal.  Thanks neighbor Dennis for your help!  He was able to address the fridge issue, assure us of safe conditions and get everything back up and running.

We play baseball no matter where we are!
We play baseball no matter where we are!

BBQ time – so when Aaron bought fish and lobster to grill on the open wood fire I will say I was skeptical….why not keep it easy and just eat hot dogs.  Then I realized that he was right – best decision ever – because when else can you eat wild salmon and pick out all the bones with your hands and really tear into a lobster without nice etiquette?!  One of my favorite meals of the trip so far!

Our evening cookout
Our evening cookout
Nothing better than campfire s'mores!
Nothing better than campfire s’mores!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5401
Haystack Falls

(Day 2) – Morning drive to the east side of Glacier National Park took several hours, but well worth it to have opportunity to hike The Highline Trail in Glacier.  We drove on the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road and along the route spotted well known waterfall.  Off to our adventure, started at Logan Pass on what we knew would be one of the best hikes in the park at 11.6 miles’ mostly cliff side with spectacular valley and mountain views.

Mountain Goat Spotting!
Mountain Goat Spotting!

Unfortunately, overcast/foggy skies were lingering and our initial visibility was poor.  In the first 500 yards we saw a mountain goat – which was awesome!  Later he ran past us along side of the mountain edge which was a little scarier but nevertheless exciting!  With the narrow paths and notable drop-offs, we had no option but to carry the boys in our packs the full duration.

Challenging Terrain and Visibility
Challenging Terrain and Visibility
Further challenging route along Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
Further challenging route along Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
Beautiful views from trail when fog lifts
Beautiful views from trail when fog lifts
Most challenging, scary hike to date -- Samuel never wanted to let go again
Most challenging, scary hike to date — Samuel never wanted to let go at the lodge – but we had to keep pressing ahead
On our final trail decent with new hiking friends Brian & Murphy
On our final trail decent with new hiking friends Brian & Murphy

Although that was challenging we had no idea that wouldn’t be the hardest part – a strong storm blew in causing the tumultuous terrain to become even more difficult as the limited range of sight and rain/snow/icy conditions high up in the mountain were brutally exhausting and the boys were beside themselves.  Mid-hike there was no turning back, just had to trek forward with new found hiking friends Brian and Murphy.  Huge thank you for sharing an extra coat with us and for genuine looks and words of encouragement!  We would have undoubtedly turned around without them through the pelting rain showers in the snowy terrain at the steepest incline.  Fortunately, there was a small lodge 7+ miles into the hike where we could take a quick break and eat some of our packed snacks, but although wet and cold we didn’t have much time once we figured out we had to bust a move as the shuttles were ending soon and we had 4 miles left to get to the end.  Visibility improved as we quickly hiked down the mountain and we made it 3 min before the last shuttle…so we thought – we had a quick scare as posted times at the pick-up location didn’t match what we were given at the lodge so we thought maybe we had just missed it – we knew we could not physically take another 8 miles to our car – fortunately the shuttle was late and arrived so we were able to avoid hitch-hiking!

(Day 3) – You would think we had had enough…but with time ticking until we were supposed to be on the road we opted to take another long hike at 9.8 miles to Iceberg Lake.

Clear day for taking in views of Glacier National Park
Clear day for taking in views of Glacier National Park
Lookout stop (photo courtesy of Austin)
Lookout stop (photo courtesy of Austin)
Each day just one step at a time - life is a great journey!
Each day just one step at a time – life is a great journey!
Enjoying all the family time
Enjoying all the family time
Beautiful views at the Iceberg
Beautiful views at the Iceberg
Boys definitely excited to be able to run around with so much snow
Boys definitely excited to be able to run around with so much snow
Snow balls coming up - ready or not!
Snow balls coming up – ready or not!
Because let's be real - we spend a lot of our time just like this!
Because let’s be real – we spend a lot of our time just like this!
Precious father-son time
Precious father-son time
Hiking bear made a re-appearance!
Hiking bear made a re-appearance!
Bear spotting in Bear Country!
Bear spotting in Bear Country!

We couldn’t go to Glacier National Park without seeing a glacier – right?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, the elevation was lower and the terrain was more solid so the boys were able to walk a good amount – Austin hiked furthest ever totaling in around 6 miles – although painful…there may have been bribing involved!  Spectacular views at the Iceberg and definitely worth the hike!

(Day 4) – Early 3am morning departure for a long day of driving.  First stop Snoqualmie Falls Park in Washington then off to Vancouver, British Columbia – for long, hot showers!!
Favorite Kid Quotes:
• “Lock that door – we don’t want any more monsters coming in!”
• “Hurry up!  Mom and dad are dinosaurs and we are in Jurassic Park!”
• “I need some toys for my bath please.  I am going to swim in that pot – right mom?!” (i.e., large pot for washing heating by fire!)
• “Mommy – you are the princess, start the cannons, we will protect you! (i.e., large marshmallow sticks are multi-purpose!) 
• “Don’t worry Austin, Mom is just getting arrested!”  (i.e., speeding in efforts to make it back to town for food after our unexpected stormy hike…. fortunately we reached resolution, but unfortunately not in time to get food!)
• “If I fall into grandma’s toilet I would go into the ocean to swim with the fish.  If I fall into this toilet, I would just go into a hole – right mom?” (i.e., full outhouse understanding!)
Thank you so much for coming along for the journey!  Next up – heading northwest to Vancouver, British Columbia and then south to Hood Canal & Seattle, Washington.  Until then – have a great day and enjoy each step of your journey!
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