Big Sky Country 2009: Iceberg Lake

Honestly, I’m not sure you could walk a mile in Montana without tripping over 3 lakes.  Of course I exaggerate, but in my 10 days there I visited at least 6 different lakes.  Iceberg Lake lies east of the Continental Divide.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal but to give you an idea of the scale there, Kalispell was only 30 minutes from the West Glacier entrance to Glacier National Park.   It took 3.5 hours to drive from Kalispell to the trailhead at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in the Many Glacier area.

Avalanche Lake HikeDave and I stopped at Trail of the Cedars to stretch our legs before heading up to Logan Pass.  There I was acquainted with Devil’s Club for the first time.  One look at the picture and you will need no further explanation.  EVERYTHING on this plant is covered in thorns.  I’ve heard even the roots have them.  Could you imagine walking through thickets of this stuff?

Going to the Sun Road looking towards Logan PassLeaving the Trail of the Cedars behind, we continued up to Logan Pass along the Going to the Sun Road.  I’ve got several shots from and of this road in my gallery and it is nothing short of an engineering marvel.  It was originally completed in 1932 and only took 5 years to build.  Today the park service in the 3rd year of a 10 year rehabilitation project.  Leave it to the government to find a way to spend more time repairing it that it took to build it.  Just over Logan Pass on the way to St. Mary, I caught a fleeting glimpse of my first black bear.

The frustrating part of this trip to the east side of the park is that we had to drive east all the way through the park to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, north about 10 miles and back west into the park about 10 miles.  To quote “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, it’s a “geographical oddity.  Two weeks from everywhere.”  All I can say is it was definitely worth it.

me at Iceberg Lake, Glacier National Park, MontanaIt was a 10 mile round trip hike with a moderate incline back to Iceberg Lake.  Even in late August there were still a few small blocks of ice in the lake.  I will simply say this: there is nothing more refreshing after hiking 5 miles that a long swig of ice cold glacial melt water.  The alpine meadows and views were simply stunning.  I have several shots of the lake in the gallery.

On the hike back, I got my Montana initiation.  Not 1/4 mile from the lake, we spotted a bull moose about 100 yards away.  Dave and I stood for 10 minutes watching him until the folks behind us spooked him.  Another 1/4 mile, we ran into Ptarmigan who nested beside the trail.  Apparently we just missed an elk.  After another 3 miles, we saw a grizzly making his way up the side of the mountain about 250 yards away.  In my years of hiking back east, I had never seen this many large wild animals on one day.  If this was my first day, what else lay in store?