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The Last Best Place - Day 7

Taking it easy at Hidden Lake

“Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” ― John Muir

We had originally planned to do the Grinnell Glacier hike, but my feet were done. I was stuck with whatever I could manage to do in flip flops. Today was a day to take it easy and let those heels start to heal.

We decided to stay at the Many Glacier Hotel until check out. The lodge has a large, warm lobby with a giant circular fireplace surrounded by cozy sofas that makes a perfect place to read.

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It also has decks overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake, and on that particular morning, it also had the most spectacular sunrise in the entire world.

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It was around noon when we headed down the road. Do you know what time that is in Montana? It's PIE TIME!

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We stopped for lunch at the Park Cafe. Not only do they have the world's best pies, they have amazing cheeseburgers and peanut butter milkshakes.

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With plenty of carbs to burn, we stopped at Logan Pass to walk back to the Hidden Lake Overlook.

This is a great walk for anyone with limited physical capabilities, which certainly described me at this point, as I limped slowly along. It is a gradual ascent that anyone can do and most of the trail is covered by a flat wooden boardwalk.

This short 3 mile walk affords some of the most spectacular views in the park, views you would normally have to do a long backcountry hike to see. It allows anyone to experience the sweeping alpine views.

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The best part however, is that you are pretty much guaranteed an up-close-and-personal with at least one mountain goat on this trail.

I love me some mountain goats.

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We ended the day uneventfully at the Lake McDonald Lodge, back on the west side of the park. We love the small cabins that sit at the edge of Lake McDonald and usually choose them over the Lodge itself. It's a perfect way to end our stay.

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Our first trip to Glacier started at the Lake McDonald Lodge. Let me tell you about that day.

We didn't know anything about hiking. We didn't know anything about Glacier National Park. We had seen a photo in a book that we bought on a ski trip that had a gorgeous shot of a glacial lake surrounded by mountains. "Glacier National Park," the caption read. That was all it took to get us there.

With no hiking experience, we made a lot of mistakes on that first trip. One of which was our very first day of hiking. The park is about 60 miles across from east to west. We had some fool idea that we would enter at the west gate and hike all the way across going from lodge to lodge on the hiking trails and using the hikers' shuttle to get us from one trailhead to the next. We would end up on the east side.

It was a great plan. In theory.

Mistake #1: Getting dropped off at the west gate was just beyond stupid. We walked about 2 hours along a paved road before we even got to the first trailhead. So we were tired before we really even got started and we lost some valuable time.

Mistake #2: We didn't have a car or a hotel room, so we had a week's worth of crap in a backpack on our backs. I have no idea what made us think we could hike with all that stuff.

Mistake #3: Not really knowing how to read a trail map, I didn't realize that what I had chosen to hike wasn't a well used or maintained trail.

The Snyder Ridge Trail starts near the end of Lake McDonald with a humble trailhead and runs along the eastern shore parallel to Lake McDonald. The trail crosses the Lincoln Lake trail and eventually intersects the Sperry/Gunsight trail and empties at Lake McDonald Lodge. Trail starts out gaining elevation where you’ll end up gaining somewhere around 2500 feet throughout the day as you wander through a mixture of cedar rainforest stands to more lodgepole type forests. It was mostly a walk in the trees with limited views. The trail isn’t maintained as much as others due to its lack of use, so about halfway through our hike, we lost it.

The trail, that is.

So here we are, two inexperienced hikers on their first day in Glacier National Park with ungodly heavy packs who had been walking WAAAAY too long and now were literally lost in the freaking woods as the sun began to set.

We did the only thing we could think to do. We scrambled over piles of downed trees and blazed our own trail through bear infested woods that were getting darker by the minute. After what seemed an eternity, we reached the road again, having no idea how far we were from our lodge. It was pitch black dark as we trudged along the road, feet aching, backs breaking, unable to see where we were going, and having no idea how much longer it would take to get us there.

We'd had no cell phone reception since we'd entered the park, so when we got the cell phones out, it was to use them as weak flashlights, not in hopes of making a phone call.

But that's when we saw it.....one weak little bar.....one tiny ray of hope.

"Try to make a call!!!!" I shouted, excited that we might be saved.

We actually got a call through to the lodge and help was on its way. A worker agreed to come pick us up in the lodge van because we were still about 4 miles away.

Believe it or not, we never saw another bar on those phones for the rest of the trip. It was a gift from God, that little bar.

When we were dropped off at the lodge that night, tired and aching after about 10 hours of walking, we went straight to the bar and ordered their bloody mary. Made with a secret house mix, the Lake McDonald Lodge Bloody Mary is super spicy and so thick you can almost chew it. It was a perfect way to celebrate our survival and after that, it became one "must do" on every trip to Glacier.

And so, on our last night in the park, having survived my abused heels, we had our celebratory Super Spicy, Always Chewy, Lake McDonald Lodge Bloody Mary.

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We finished the evening with some dinner at the Lodge: elk sausage and spicy slaw, artichoke dip, and a vege flatbread.

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At long last, we crawled into bed, pulling the curtains on another hiking adventure in Glacier.

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Posted by vicki_h 15.10.2012 08:10 Archived in USA Tagged mountains hiking montana glacier_national_park kalispell

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