Hiking Grinnell Glacier
Glacier National Park, Montana
The Great Road Trip of 2015
I didn’t really have any intention of hiking Grinnell Glacier. Known as one of the more scenic trails in the park, I wanted to hike it, but dire warnings of bear activity in Many Glacier played over and over in my head. It was recommended to not hike in groups of less than four and I had talked to a local who really reiterated how stupid hiking alone was.
So I sat alone in the trail head parking lot, lacing up my boots and as I threw my camera pack on, I double-checked my bear-spray was firmly attached and quickly accessible. I had just spent the better part of an hour watching two large black bears forage for berries not even a quarter mile away, but whatever…”It’s a high-traffic trail and I’ll only go to Lake Josephine,” I told myself as I started the two mile hike with my head on a swivel.
And Lake Josephine was gorgeous, especially with the weather threatening to become nice. But I could see the Grinnell Glacier trail continue along the west end of the lake and gain a little elevation. It looked nicer… “I’ll just got there to check it out. Maybe shoot a timelapse. Then I’ll head back.”
An hour and a half later, I stood across from the 200 acre glacier at the base of the backside of the Garden Wall.
Discovered in 1885 by George Bird Grinnell, an early American conservationist, explorer, and founder of the Audubon Society, Grinnell Glacier has been one of the most photographed spots in the park. Between 1966 and 2005, the glacier has lost almost 40% of its acreage and due to global warming and carbon dioxide levels, like the rest of the remaining glaciers in the park, it may gone in the next 15 years.
The disappearing glaciers were a big driver for me wanting to see the park sooner than later and I’m incredibly happy I ignored common sense so I could see Grinnell…
Good trail description here.