Glacier National Park

Known as the “Crown Jewel of the Continent,” the Glacier National Park is fully deserving of the title.  Having lived near Glacier for over five years now, I have been fortunate enough to grow intimate with many aspects of the park, including flora, fauna, many of the hiking trails, and some of the Glaciers.

My latest trip occurred over Labor Day weekend 2017. While I have visited the park during fires and smoky conditions in the past, the park during this trip seemed especially dry and unhealthy, far removed from the deep snow, cascading waterfalls, and lush plant life I have come to expect even for early fall.  Indeed, the glaciers are disappearing and may be gone by 2030.  Complicating matters, fire danger indices are at near record levels due to above-average temperatures and below-average rainfalls.  This led to lightning causing the devastating (and as of this writing, ongoing) Sprague Fire.  Despite generally smoky conditions, the park still offered incredible hiking scenery, as well as transient views of bears, elk, and bighorn sheep.

On this particular trip we hiked up Swiftcurrent Mountain from The Loop, and to Gunsight Lake from the Jackson Glacier viewpoint, both extremely worthwhile hikes.

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Camping on forest service land west of Glacier.
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View towards Logan Pass from the Swiftcurrent trail.
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View along the Highline and Grinnell Glacier overlook trails.

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Final push towards the top of Swiftcurrent Mountain.

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View looking across the continental divide as smoke billows from the Sprague fire.
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Swiftcurrent Glacier

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3000′ drop-off to the Many Glacier valley.
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Swiftcurrent Mountain was 12.6 miles round trip, with a net elevation gain from the parking lot to the top of the mountain of around 4200′, most of it in extremely exposed conditions.

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Grouse?
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Mountain along the Gunsight Lake trail

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Jackson Glacier in a haze of smoke from the nearby fire.

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Gunsight Lake
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An apocalyptic sun over Gunsight Lake while ash falls from the sky.
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The infamous Lake McDonald, one of the highlights of Glacier National Park.

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