Hike to Grinnell Glacier

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Not many people can say they've walked on a Glacier but today that's exactly what we did at Grinnell Glacier in the heart for the Glacier National Park. It was an earlier start and we were on a schedule when we set out from our RV site at Aspenwood (US 89 just west of Browning).

We had booked on a boat across lake Josephine from the Many Glacier hotel to the trail head of the Grinnell Glacier hike. The boat left at 8.30 and the reason it was important to make this was that this one was a Ranger-led tour which meant we'd have a free guide and priority on the returning boat (a common complaint among other travellers). The night had been freezing and we'd all slept in our clothes. We knew it would be hot on the trail but it was difficult not to dress warmly given the early morning temperature.

We opted for hiking boats and socks, sturdy trousers and layers that could be stripped off. Then we headed for the Many Glacier Hotel, about 50 mins from our site. The boat was fully booked and many travellers were trying to get on so we were glad we'd reserved seats. Our mountain guides name was Rick and he explained during the boat trip that it was interpretive which means he'd be explaining about how the geology of the area was formed. This was greeted with mixed feelings in the family - some were interested, others said 'this is why I gave up geography'! View of Grinnell Glacier from below

The view from the boat as we pulled in at the trail head was stunning and after a safety talk about bears, we set off towards the top, following Ranger Rick. The pace was pretty full-on but there were also plenty of stops. We'd got a bottle of water each but this wasn't really enough. Rick recommended at least 2 pints and with the weather hot and the wind minimal we could have done with even more. Grinnell Glacier at the topThe information on the way up was fascinating, explaining how mountains form and how glaciers play a part in this formation. The walk was described as "moderately strenuous" and Tom and Callum both struggled at points but both found ways to cope - Callum like to lead and Tom liked to talk.

Lisa has a walking stick that we'd bought in St Mary's. Kate and I carried the back packs! The view at the top was well worth the sweat and effort of getting there. The Glacier was bright white and on the right was partially water - a pale grey/blue with ice floating on it. Standing on Grinnell Glacier

It isn't recommended to walk on Grinnell Glacier as snow can cover hidden crevasses but we walked down first to the lake and felt the temperatures - not surprisingly it was very cold! Then we walked round and found a safe part of the glacier right at the rock edge and posed for pictures! It was very exciting to stand on a glacier! While the ranger talks had been informative it was probably over-done by the time we reached the top and started to be come a little tiresome for the children (and Lisa!). On the way down we skipped ahead of the group and arrived back at the boat dock around 4pm. We bathed our sore feet in the cold waters of lake Josephine until the boat came to carry us home.

It was a tiring day but a satisfying one. As we drive back we came across a large number of people and cars parked alongside the road. Intrigued, we parked up and asked a ranger what was happening. 'There is a bear down there' he responded. Excitedly we joined the crowd an after a few minutes of patient watching we saw the ears of a bear in the long bushes about 50 feet away! As we watched, the small Grizzly got up and walked in in full view. An amazing way to finish out day.