Friday, July 11, 2014 It was a cool 50 degrees and cloudy when we woke up. Once the clouds broke up, it warmed up quickly. We had a leisurely morning as we didn’t have to leave the campground until 11:00. We were taking a 4 hour trail ride out of the Many Glacier area of Glacier Nat’l Park. It is about 18 miles from St. Mary. We had breakfast, took care of a little business, and left around 11:00. Most people in the campground were gone by then to places unknown and the campground seemed deserted. We had never been to this part of the park before, so it was all new to us. Many Glacier is considered to be one of the most scenic areas of Glacier Nat’l Park and we weren’t disappointed. On our ride to the park entrance, we caught sight of the glaciers from which this area gets its name.
I love this picture with the cloud at the very top.
There are also 3 lakes in this area. Sherburne Lake is the largest of the three. The road took us along the length of this beautiful lake.
We found more cows wandering on the road in the “open range” area.
We finally came to the park entrance about 15 miles in.
At the end of the road is the famous Many Glacier Hotel.
It was built in the familiar alpine style.
The hotel sits on Swift Current Lake where people were kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming. Yikes! The water is ice cold.
We had some time to spare before our ride, so we looked around. From here, at the very end of the valley, we had mountains all around us.
Between Swift Current and Sherburne Lake there is a HUGE waterfall.
We only had time to view it from the top, but it was awesome! We’ll check it out more on Sunday when we come back to do a boat tour from the Many Glacier area.
We couldn’t see Lake Josephine, but we were told it was just around the corner. Our boat tour will take us on it. From where we stood on the shore of Sherburne Lake, we could see waterfalls pouring down the mountainsides. Here are just two of them.
We ate our picnic lunch and got ready to ride. By now the sun was out in full force and it was warm. We found the Swan Mountain Outfitters and checked in.
We met the man who was in charge of the horses and wranglers and he was kind enough to pose for a picture with me. I guess I’m the “city dude” in that picture.
We were given the legal papers and waivers to sign, filled out some information sheets, sat through the safety orientation , and waited to saddle up.
Our ride was to start at 12:45, but by the time they got everyone matched up with their horses and in the saddle, it was 1:45 before we started walking out of the corral.
We weren’t allowed to use our camera during the ride, or carry anything on our bodies (jacket, binoculars, camera, etc.) which could startle or be a distraction for the horses. Understandable! We put those things in our saddle bags to have if we needed them at our halfway point. I was riding a black and white pinto named Scout. (I had told Bob that I hoped to be able to ride one of the pintos and my wish came true.) Bob rode a brown horse with a white blaze called Town. (Weird name for a horse, but who am I to judge.) The 4 hour ride (2 hours out and 2 hours back) took us across 3 raging streams, up and over the rocks, through the lower meadows and lodgepole pine forest, and into the upper tundra close to the base of the mountains. After an hour of riding through the flats, we started our climb for the second hour. We got closer to the mountains than I ever thought we would. The view was spectacular! We also caught glimpses of Lake Sherburne below us. Our wrangler in the lead, Melissa, talked loudly most of the way there and back, mostly to chase away any bears. She was a wealth of knowledge about the forest, fish, birds, mammals, and the geological history of the area. She is from southern Ohio, has 3 horses of her own, and is working here for the first time this summer. She really seems to love her job! Our wrangler bringing up the rear, Kurt, is originally from Kalispell, Montana. It was on his third day on the job, but you would have never guessed it. He told us he has not ridden very much, but he was a natural horseman. Both wranglers were personable and made the ride so enjoyable. We rode 9 miles out and returned the same way–a total of 18 miles. The halfway spot was a hitching post in the shade under the trees, where we dismounted and rested. Bob did spot a bear in the woods not too far from the trail on our ride up. The young bear looked at us as we looked at him and then we moved on. Kurt said it was a young cinnamon bear–a relative of the black bear. Other than that, we didn’t see anything else. The lower meadows and upper tundra areas were in full bloom with wildflowers of every color. This is still spring in Montana and some of the trees are just starting to bud out. Heck, they had a snowstorm in the mountains and 4 inches of rain in the lower elevations around June 16. That’s only about a month ago. I know I’ve said this before, but the scenery going up the mountain looked different coming down. You get a whole different perspective with each direction. The trail, at times, took us a little too close to the edge of the cliff, but the horses did great, even though the riders were leaning away from the dropoff. The ride up was easier from a rider’s standpoint, than going down, but amazingly neither of us had sore butts. (Hint: I wore my padded biking shorts under my jeans for added comfort, although Bob did fine without them.) For our age, other than walking a little funny after dismounting, we had little soreness. We arrived back at the corral around 6:00 and then the wranglers offered to take our picture.
I always dreamed of riding in Glacier Nat’l Park and now I can say that I did. It is a memory I will not soon forget. We left the Many Glacier area and headed back to the campground. We ate a quick dinner and watched a little TV before we both fell asleep. We were exhausted after 4 hours on the trail. I did check out the full moon before calling it a night.
It was another memorable day!