Day 7 & 8 - To Many Glacier and Billings, MT

On road to Many Glacier

This is a double day because day 7 was really long and day 8 was all driving.   
On Day 7 we decided to drive to the east side of the park, specifically the Many Glacier area, since the Going-to-the-Sun road was still not open, we had to take the long way around which takes about 2 hours.  Note about 30 minutes of that two hours is going only 25 MPH or less on the dirt/gravel road into Many Glacier.   I highly recommend not taking the primary Google suggested route and use the route of US-2 to State- 49 (closed in the winter) to US-89 because the views along 49 are outstanding, even if the road has no guard rails with some steep drop offs.   We left a little after 7:00AM, the goal was no later than 7:30AM because it would take  2 hours to get there, which would get us there by 9:30AM and give us time to hike and do a few other things.  I realized if we got there about 9:30AM, and did the Grinnell Lake  trail we would get to Grinnell Lake about lunch time, so Jim and I brought an MRE to eat when we made the lake.  I only mentioned this in passing to Bill and Christina so they did not have lunch when we made the lake; we offered Christina a cookie from the MRE and they had snacks of their own.   

View along Lake Joseptaine

View from Grinnel Lake

The Grinnell Lake trail is flat and paved for the first 0.7 miles, and then dirt and rock for the remaining 2.6 miles.  The last 0.2 miles of the trail include going over a suspension bridge that states “one hiker at a time on bridge” and is very bouncy.  I crossed it with minimal sway and bounce, while stopping in the middle to take a picture of the waterfall slightly up the stream the bridge crossed.  The last 0.2 miles also include a fairly steep incline and then a walk across the snow to the lake.   When we reached the lake Jim found a place to put up his hammock and us to eat lunch overlooking the snow and lake.    After lunch we headed back to the start point which was the Many Glacier hotel.  Once we reached the hotel around 2:30PM,  we stopped briefly so Bill and Christina could eat some lunch from the quick cafe, then headed down to the east entrance of the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road.  

Since the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road is closed in the middle we drove all the way to the Jackson Glacier Overlook,  the turn around point for the road.  On the way back we stopped at a couple pull outs for pictures.  In one location there was a bear, but the ranger said he had to keep moving, so he dropped me off, drove down the road then turned around and came and picked me up.  People were being helpful to point out the bear but I could not really see it among the logs, so no bear pictures.  I’m occasionally very bad at sighting wildlife.   After that it was a couple more photo stops, a stop at the St. Mary’s Visitor Center so I could get my passport stamp, then it was time to start heading home.   We got back to the hotel around 8:00PM. 

Wild Goose Island - Photo Stop

The next day I originally planned to get up early and get sunrise photos of Lake McDonald, from Apgar but I did not sleep well, thus canceled that plan.   I didn’t sleep well because a train stopped at the train station outside our hotel and kept releasing its air brakes from midnight till we got up in the morning.  The whole time the trains did not bother us but this did,  so when 4:00AM rolled around I just didn’t feel like heading into the park for a photo.  So we slept a little longer till about 6:00AM.   That is when Jim and I determined there really wasn’t anything else we wanted to see in the park, and since my knee was acting up so I couldn’t hike anymore, and the hotel wasn’t very restful, we decided we were going to start the journey home early.  We let Bill and Christina know about this plan, and they decided to stay the day, thus our little group split for the return trip.   Jim and I left the hotel no later than 8:00AM to head to Billings, MT, our first stop on the return trip.   Tomorrow we will be heading to Rapid City, SD with a few possible stops along the way. 


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