2002 Canada Trip

Friday, September 20


Spirit Island Today dawned clear and cold. In fact, the rain that had fallen overnight was now frozen on the car and trailer. Using our credit cards ice scrapers, we cleared the front windshield. We headed back into Glacier National Park to try to shoot the earliest rays of the sun on the peaks surrounding St. Mary Lake. The lake was relatively quiet with a layer of fog over it, so it made for some interesting early photos. Our main location was the viewpoint for Wild Goose Island. Only yesterday, the lake was full of white caps and the entire lake was churning from the high winds. Today, the lake was strangely quiet with some nice lighting on the peaks to the north.

After shooting the warm sunrise light, we drove to the Many Glacier portion of Glacier National Park. This area is north of St. Mary and is not nearly as impacted by visitors as the Going to the Sun area. When we arrived, all the facilities were closed, but we were more interested in the natural beauty and the hiking in the area. We decided to set out for Grinnell Lake. The hike hugged the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake before arriving at Grinnell Lake.

It took us quite a while to get our backpacks and camera gear ready, but we still got a relatively early start. This time we made sure we had our bear bells. We were definitely heading into grizzly bear country. When we left, we really didn't know how far we would hike before turning back. We wanted to at least reach Josephine Lake. The irony of our plans was that if the boats were still running on Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake, we could have ridden them and saved four miles of hiking. Unfortunately, they had stopped right after Labor Day, so we were on our own.

Swiftcurrent Lake It took us no time at all the hike around Swiftcurrent Lake. The lake was quiet and the mountains were lit, so the only delays were for taking photographs.

Shortly after starting around Lake Josephine, I told Carol we needed to be extra alert because we were definitely in a good bear feeding area. Just down the trail, we found fresh bear scat full of berries (I would advise him to chew his food more). From that point on, we made sure our bear bells were constantly ringing. There were lots of berry bushes and nearly perfect cover for the bears. Two more bear scat locations and 1.5 miles more and we were out of the worst bear area.

Grinnell Lake After Josephine Lake, it was another 1.5 miles through the forest to Grinnell Lake. Carol's favorite part was the suspension bridge across the river. Grinnell Lake was beautiful. It had the turquoise green indicative of its glacial origin. At the opposite end of the lake was Grinnell Falls that flowed from Grinnell Glacier. A small herd of mountain goats on the cliffs above the lake completed the scene.

The only negative was that we were a couple of hours late for the waterfall and cascades to be completely lit by the sun. All too soon, it was time to return to our car.

By the time we got back to Josephine Lake, we had hiked 4.5 miles and we started to feel the load of carrying all of our camera gear and tripods. The final 2.5 miles were considerably slower, but we managed to hike on the other side of Josephine Lake to stay out of the worst of the bear area. That was a bit more reassuring.

We were both pretty well beat when we reached the Explorer. Our feet had taken quite a beating and we were hobbling. We were quite a sight trying to get out of the Explorer to go into the cafe for dinner. We wrote off trying to photograph moonrise. We were just too tired. As it turned out, that was a good decision anyway because the clouds completely obscured it. I'm sure we'll both sleep very well tonight.

Today's Photo Gallery

Spirit Island Swiftcurrent Lake Josephine Lake
Wild Goose Island Swiftcurrent Lake Josephine Lake
Grizzley area Many Glacier Hotel
Grizzly Area Along Josephine Lake Many Glacier Hotel