Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Glacier Hiking, Day Two

We decided to take the shuttle from Apgar Visitor's Center to Logan Pass after driving on the Going-to-the-Sun road yesterday and scrambling to find a parking place.  Rangers and seasoned employees told us the parking lot often fills up by 8 AM.  We found a spot at Apgar, but waited about 30 minutes for the Shuttle to arrive, so it was 11 o'clock when we began our hike on the Highline Trail. It was definitely Bradleigh's goal to do the entire Loop Trail.  I fussed about the Loop Trail because it was 11.6 miles, the last 4 miles, a drop of 2300.'  I knew I could do it if we had enough time, but with only 8 hours to hike and catch the last shuttle at 7:00 PM,  I was leery.  I asked several people, young and old, rangers and returnees who did not give me much encouragement for the long hike. Bradleigh teased me that I believed everyone talked to.  At the beginning of the hike we did not know if we were just hiking 3.6 miles to Haystack Pass and back out, or 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet and then the last 4 miles down to the Loop to catch the Shuttle.

 The Highline Trail is an extremely popular hike; and for good reason. At every step, and every turn, hikers will have absolutely spectacular scenery as the Highline follows along the Continental Divide, also known as the Garden Wall in this area. The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life. If you're looking for solitude, however, you won't find it on this trail.
Roughly one-quarter of a mile from the trailhead you'll arrive at the famous ledge with the reputation for terrifying those with a fear of heights. In most places the ledge, hanging like a shelf on the Garden Wall, is only six to eight feet in width, and has drop-offs of roughly a hundred feet or so down to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below. This segment lasts for only three-tenths of a mile, but may seem forever if you have a fear of heights. Fortunately the National Park Service has installed a hand cable along this stretch of the trail. My advice is to not let this deter you, as this is one of the most scenic trails in America.


 We both loved the beginning of the hike - a little intimidating, but actually exhilarating.  


We reached our lunch spot, Haystack Pass, at 1:30.  I'm grateful Bradleigh did not lose patience with me as I re-read the hike in her book and talked to a couple who'd hiked the trail two years ago.  They finally convinced me we would make it ( 7 miles) to the shuttle by 7 PM.  So we took off at 2 and it was my goal to reach the chalet by 4, leaving 3 hours for the last 4 miles, all downhill. 

The views were stunning and the hike relatively easy after lunch. We had to stand in line for the bathroom at the Chalet, then rest our feet and buy some Gatorade, so it was 4:45 as we headed down the last four miles.  
But not before we posed for a few pictures..

After one mile Bradleigh said to me, "I just realized how far four miles is!  This is kinda crazy."  But then we ran into this amazing creature.
The last three miles I tried to think positive, to pray, to conserve my last cup of water, to sing, to praise God for the incredible beauty of this glorious park.  But mostly,  I thought about my aching feet and wondered if we would make it to the bottom.  Nice people encouraged us along the way, especially a couple from California.  Bradleigh managed to walk much faster than I did and so we encountered this couple at different times.  At 6:15 they reassured me we only had 30 minutes of hiking left.  Whew!  But I knew they lied, because it was almost 7 when I found Bradleigh and she told me we still had .5 miles to go.   She went on ahead and when I finally arrived at the shuttle stop she was visiting with the couple and they agreed to take us right down to the visitor's center!  Hikers are nice, happy, and kind!!!  It's one reason I love punishing my body over and over.

Here's a YouTube video about our hike!

Dirty shoes and all those steps - we were proud we made it!

Those words Bradleigh wrote on Instagram made every sore muscle worth it!




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