Glacier National Park: A Tale of Two Waterfalls, or Into the Woods

Deadwood Falls

On Saturday, August 4, we decided to do the wooded hike to Florence Falls, 4.6 miles from the trailhead at Jackson Glacier Overlook on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Our hikes the previous two days had been up in the alpine heights, and the following day we’d be hiking to a glacier, so a hike through a valley to a waterfall was perfect for seeing another side of Glacier National Park.

Florence Falls
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Glacier National Park: Many Glacier and Lamarca

After our morning hike at Hidden Lake on Friday, August 3, we spent the afternoon running errands in anticipation of “Prosecco Hour,” which is that hour when you drink Prosecco in your campsite. But when running errands is as scenic as going to the Many Glacier section of Glacier National Park, you certainly don’t mind.

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Glacier National Park: Hidden Lake

Bearhat Mountain, Hidden Lake, and Mountain Goats

As we had the previous morning, we woke early on Friday, August 3. Our goal was to return early to Logan Pass to do the short hike to Hidden Lake Overlook and hopefully see some Mountain Goats and other wildlife. Then in the afternoon we’d go over to Many Glacier and reserve boat tickets for a hike over the weekend.

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Glacier National Park: The Highline

The Highline Trail along Glacier National Park’s Garden Wall is one of the great hikes in the entire National Park system. It is simultaneously splendor-drenched and intimate. As gorgeous a view as you can find anywhere unfolds around you while up close, a delicate micro-habitat is home to bouquets of wildflowers. It is the extreme of expansiveness and quiet. It is also terrifying for someone, like me, who is afraid of heights.

Nevertheless, Sean’s and my first full day in Glacier, Thursday, August 2,  was spent on the Highline with friends who return to it like a pilgrimage to a holy site.

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Glacier National Park: Going to the Sun

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Mount Gould (left), Bishops Cap (center), and Pollock Mountain (right), along the Garden Wall

On July 31, a Tuesday, our journey to Montana began with a 5:20pm flight from O’Hare to…Seattle. Then we’d continue on to Great Falls. Sean and I both worked from home until it was time to head to the airport. And we both were stressed tying up some final things before the trip. Our stress continued on the way to the airport in a Lyft. Traffic was extremely heavy, and we’d left later than we’d wanted to because of work stuff.

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Glacier National Park: Planning

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Above Grinnell Lake, the spot where I cried

Glacier National Park was established by Congress on May 11, 1910 with the enabling legislation signed by President William Howard Taft. The Park protects over a million acres of the northern Rocky Mountains along the Continental Divide in northwestern Montana. It was the tenth most visited National Park in 2017 with over 3.3 million visitors.

For years Glacier National Park has been writ large in Sean’s and my minds because it is so beloved of our friends Angela and Dan, fellow National Park enthusiasts who have visited the Park many times, often at the conclusion of long summer road trips. (They are both Chicago Public Schools teachers.) During the long Chicago winter, the four of us were part of a Wednesday night Skeeball league at a local brewery. Over the course of our weekly hanging out and playing (often terribly), the subject rose of our joining them at Glacier in the summer of 2018. We knew that we were going to California in July for Andrew’s wedding and that my birthday trip was coming in November, so an August trip to Glacier might work out quite nicely.

And so it did.

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Kings Canyon National Park: That Time When We Sang to the Bear, and After

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Paradise Valley

Just before 3pm on July 4, Sean and I departed Mist Falls and began the hike down Paradise Valley. The Falls marked the farthest into the heart of the Sierra Nevada that we would reach on this trip. The following day we would continue on to the third part of our California trip: three nights in San Diego and Andrew and Yesi’s wedding.

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