Fire and ice

Happy Day After Labor Day, everyone! I hope you all had relaxing holidays!

This weekend, Cobalt and I headed to Montana to see Glacier National Park. Our visit was kind of ill-timed, however, because the park currently has an epic fire ripping through it. In fact, just an hour or so after that picture was taken, this part of the park was closed and evacuated. So we got a bit of a smoky tour of the park. But seriously guys, even with smoke around, this park is gorgeous. We’re definitely going to have to come back some time under less smoky conditions.

So what is it about this park that makes it so fantastic, you ask? Well the answer is in the name. The glaciers. Giant glaciers left behind these incredible towers and valleys when they melted. Plus there are still some glaciers hanging out there today!

Glaciers also formed a lot of the geographical features of one of my other favorite national parks, Yosemite. I think I have a thing for glaciers. They do cool things to rocks.

So anyway, Cobalt and I really wanted to meet a glacier, but they are a bit of an oddity at this point because so few are left. So instead we decided to venture to Iceberg Lake because if you can’t get to a glacier, a lake filled with water that used to be frozen is almost as good.

The trail to Iceberg lake starts on the east side of the park, which also looked like it was a little less smoky. Cobalt and I were staying in a hotel on the west side of the park so to get to our trailhead, we either had to

  1. enter the park at the west side, drive through the whole park, drive out of the park, go around another lake, and then drive into the east side entrance or
  2. drive alllllllllll the way around the whole park and then drive in the east side entrance

We opted for option 1) because it meant getting to see the park on our way to/from our hike.

So we got to the west side entrance around 9 am. It was a little smoky but not too bad. It was actually a little chilly outside too, a welcome feeling after melting all summer in the Tri-Cities. It was perfect day for exploring a national park! We wound our way through the park, stopping here and there to take pictures and marvel at the beauty of the park. It wasn’t until we entered the east side of the park that the ranger told us that the west entrance had been closed and evacuated at 10! Yikes! So much for going back through the park on our way back to the hotel…

Anyway, it was time to find that Iceberg Lake! The east side of the park was way less smoky than the west side (though it got smokier as the day continued). So we filled our backpacks with food and water, slapped on some sunscreen, and headed up the trail. It’s a really pretty 5 mile (each way) hike! My favorite part about the trail is that you can actually see the top of the basin that holds the lake pretty early on. Then we weaved in and out of forests and over waterfalls to get up there.

Cobalt on the hike to Iceberg Lake. I think the walls surrounding the lake look a bit like the Black Gate of Mordor. So jagged…

I think it was worth the hike! So pretty (even with the smoke). We ate our lunch by the lake, even though it meant chasing away some pretty fat and sneaky chipmunks. I attempted to get into the lake but the water was really really really cold (though other tourists did make it all the way in). For the record, Cobalt got his feet in too.

This little fatty tried to steal our cheese!

This is as far in as I could go. Photo credit: Cobalt.

Then it started to get much more smoky and we decided it was time to bid our new lake and chipmunk friends goodbye. Don’t worry, Iceberg Lake! We’ll be back soon!

Some sharks and a whale made the trek up with us. Luckily the water was too cold for them too so they didn’t try to swim away! Photo credit: Cobalt.

After we left the park, we had to drive all the way around it to get back to the hotel. It seemed to take a lot longer (especially when I was driving on crazy twisty narrow mountain roads) but when we actually did the math, it took us the same amount of time as it did for us to drive through the park. Good to know.

In other news, the smoke was pretty terrible on the way back to the hotel and on Monday morning. In fact, we drove back to Washington through a smoky haze. It’s bad, guys. These fires are outta control.

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