Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Highline in Glacier National Park

Even at this early hour, the trailhead at the Loop in Glacier National Park is filling up fast.  The Loop-Highline is one of the most popular dayhikes in the park, so I’m hoping to do it before all the summer crowds get here. 
Paintbrush in the burn area along the Granite Park Trail.
White bog orchid, the first I've seen.
It’s quiet for the first few miles heading up the Granite Park Trail.  The wildflowers are splendid and colorful.  Above Granite Park Chalet, Eli stops and says he can’t believe how few people there are here—we are out of sight of anyone in front of us or behind us.  For a moment, it is all ours.  Pausing, breathing in the beauty of it all.  That moment gets etched memory, what it feels like to be surrounded by these Glacier mountains.  To really feel the vastness.  They say you never forget seeing these mountains for the first time.
That moment.  I want it to last forever.  It feels expansive.  Then it is over. 
Then more people pass in the other direction.  Bright and clean hikers that smile and say hello.
Wildflower-lined trail.
The closer we get to Logan Pass, the more people we see.  It is mentally so different hiking around so many people.  The scenery is dramatic, but I sort of shut down and have trouble being here in the moment.  When I look at the peaks, all I can do is dream of going further into the backcountry.  I wonder what this place looks like in the early morning hours.  I have trouble comprehending theses peaks in the starkness of this noon light.  How far does it take to get away from all these people?  I catch myself living in the future, and try to draw myself back to what is in front of me.
Look at this!  Right here!
Eli explains about how little snow there is for this time of year.  It's alarming how some of the small creeks are already dry.  Other hikers passing by remark at how the wildflowers that are out now should be blooming for another month at least.  I feel grateful to be around people who can explain what a scary, hot, dry year this is, otherwise I don't know if I'd realize the full extent of it.

Theoretically, I am glad all these people are out here.  So many of them are actually getting out of their cars, getting away from the trailheads, and hiking.  Here, we are a community of hikers.  From all over the country and all over the world.  All of them here marveling at this shared beauty, connecting with this place so that they will treasure it and care about it, and it will fill their dreams when they go back home.  Seeing all these hikers, I feel there is hope for us all.
Garden Wall on the Highline Trail.
Back at Logan Pass, my brain registers that I am in one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been, yet in the midst of the fumes of cars in the parking lot and standing amid the people, I can’t “see” it.  But with so many people coming and going, it makes for easy hitchhiking, and we get a ride in a few minutes with a nice family from Utah, back down to my car.  That people take a chance in giving strangers a ride makes me happy once again with the state of humanity.

Information on this route:
We parked at the Loop and headed up the Granite Park Trail towards the Granite Park Chalet, where we took the Highline Trail to Logan Pass. This allowed us to climb uphill more, and do the lower elevations in the relative cool of morning.  Others may prefer going downhill, and start at Logan Pass.  Next week the shuttles should be running, so you won't need to hitch like we did.

More detailed description here

I was told this trail would be difficult for someone with a fear of heights, but I thought the trail was incredibly wide and felt very safe.  Guess it's all relative.


  1. Beautiful hike! I hope you are having a fun summer!

    1. Thanks, Misti! Yes, this is a summer to remember!