There are no shortcuts to any place worthwhile.
28.08.2014 - 28.08.2014
Day Six: There are no shortcuts to any place worthwhile.
Our destination of the day was Granite Park Chalet and the only way to get to it was to hike 7+ miles. We had a 7:30 a.m. shuttle to catch, so we only got to see the first rays of the sun as they peeked over Many Glacier.
The shuttle took us to St. Mary, where we waited for 45 minutes in the freezing cold for a very late shuttle to Logan Pass. There were about 8 of us that had gotten there at 8:00 am and had been waiting for a very long time in the cold when the shuttle finally arrived. Apparently, someone had not shown up for work so the early shuttle didn’t run. As we all wrestled with our large backpacks and headed toward the van, a slick couple in brand new shiny hiking suits that had just shown up practically knocked us down as they ran in front of us all and jumped on the shuttle.
Oh hell to the no.
You see, the shuttle didn’t have enough seats for everyone who was waiting. God bless the shuttle operator who escorted them off, as they cussed and made faces, and made sure everyone that had arrived on the 7:30 shuttle was seated first. She then filled in the few remaining seats with others who had been waiting longer than Mr. and Mrs. Slick Pants. They were left on the sidewalk scowling.
I am always amazed how some people can be so self-absorbed that they give no thought to common courtesy.
No matter. It was a beautiful day to do the Highline Trail from Logan Pass to the Granite Park Chalet.
As we made our way across the ledge that starts the trail, I couldn’t help but think of the headline from just a few weeks earlier:
CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF A GRIZZLY KIND ON THE HIGHLINE TRAIL
The narrow ledge drops 15 stories to the highway below. It’s only wide enough for single file and it stretches for just over a quarter of a mile.
Now imagine if you were THIS guy:
That’s him going in one direction and a bear coming in the other direction.
See. It can always be worse.
I’m pretty sure thinking about ice cream did not help in that particular circumstance.
The Highline is a hike that we have done several times, but it never gets old. Our favorite way to do the hike is to hike 7 miles from Logan Pass to Granite Park Chalet, stay overnight, and hike 8 miles out over Swiftcurrent Pass into the Many Glacier valley where our car would be waiting.
We saw marmots. We saw bighorn sheep. We saw fat ground squirrels. We saw incredible views stretching in every direction.
We also saw Mr. and Mrs. Slick Pants. Apparently, another shuttle had arrived about 10 minutes later, and without any packs, these two were making time. Probably trying to outhike everyone with backpacks so that they could get to the Chalet first and drink all the chocolate milk and get the best seats by the fire.
We scowled at them as they went by and I secretly hoped that trail karma would bite her on the butt. Maybe she’d break a nail or get her shiny new suit dirty.
We stopped for lunch in an area I like to call the “valley of the boulders.” Giant rocks are strewn everywhere and it’s easy to find one with a spectacular view. At this restaurant, every seat is the best seat in the house.
Summer sausage with cheddar cheese and wheat thins, a granny smith apple, and a fig bar never tasted so good.
We continued on with more marmots, more bighorn sheep, and more amazing views. We even treated ourselves to a few huckleberries.
We reached the Granite Park Chalet in the early afternoon. That left plenty of time to simply enjoy being there.
The chalet is hike-in only and there is no greater experience than getting to spend the night. After all the day hikers pack up their lunches and leave, it is a mountain refuge, quiet and calm, with views that take your breath away.
Each group signs up for a turn in the kitchen. Since we didn’t have to carry cookware or our propane stoves, we carried more food!
Yay! Food! In case it’s not obvious by now, I hike for the food.
Dinner was easy but delicious: angel hair pasta with pre-cooked meatballs, marinara, and parmesan cheese, an Italian salad, and tiramisu in a cup!
As we ate, an incredibly thick fog rolled in on top of us. It was eerie. You couldn’t see the tree line from the Chalet.
We ended the day hanging out in the chalet’s common room by the fire with hot tea and cocoa listening to the staff tell stories of the chalet’s history as the fog crept in around us.