The fire on the east side of Glacier, east of Logan pass and both north and south of the Going to the Sun Road, had restricted access to much of the park. All those folks were pushed into the western half of Glacier. I was lucky and got a campsite by showing up to claim one of the few available at Avalanche Campground at 9am. By 11am people were being turned away.
I had one hike on my list for the short time I would be there: The Highline Trail.
I took off from Logan Pass early in the morning to beat the heat. It had been in the high 80s and low 90s. I had heard the ledges were scary, but I didn’t find them so. There were plenty of people who would not let go the of the guide lines though.
Just before the Grinnell Glacier spur there were peak-a-boo views of Lake McDonald.
The Grinnell Glacier spur trial was a killer. Steep, dusty and dry. But the views of the vanishing glacier and interactions with fearless Golden Mantled Squirrels was worth the work.
I walked the trails with a White Tail deer for about an eight of a mile. She finally found some treats along the trail side and split off.
I took a rest at the Chalet, chatted with a ranger, drank some water then pulled on my pack for the decent to the Loop Trail outlet. It was only 4 miles, but that was the hottest, driest, dusty-est 4 miles of trail through a heavily burned out forest that had begun to recover enough to produce low grasses and ground cover, but provided zero shade. The wind blew dust in my eyes, howled and screamed through the charred trees and whipped heat down on your head as if from a broiler. I emptied both of my water bottles with one mile left to go.
I came around a corner to views of the Loop parking lot. The thought of an ice-cold bottle of water waiting for me in the cooler in the car was absolute heaven. Plus, about 20 yards away was a river. People had gathered around a shallow pool to dip in feet and dunk heads. Upstream a father and two boys were filling water bottles from their filter. I stepped up to do the same, but the father offered to fill my bottle since he was pumping anyway. I took him up on the offer and downed half of my bottle right off the bat. Best. Water. Ever.
I caught the shuttle from the Loop parking lot up to Logan Pass about 10 minutes later. On the way back to the campsite I stopped for some ice and some beer. It was a good day.