Swiftcurrent Pass

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Hello Virtual Travelers,

I am pooped! Today I went on a hike up over Swiftcurrent Pass to the Glacier Chalet for a roundtrip distance of about 14 miles and an elevation gain of about 2500 ft. This isn't like volleyball! But, it's a good tired - as in I'm good and tired. ;) The trail I took was the same one I went on yesterday, but today I took it past Red Rock Falls; way past!

After passing the falls, the trail went through a meadow sprinkled with various types of wildflowers. One type I saw that I especially liked was a flower with a deep red, bulbous center surrounded by yellow petals. It looks somewhat like a daisy, but differently colored of course and having a more pronounced middle. Very pretty. By this time I had struck up a conversation with another hiker who was passing hiker after hiker as I was, as we were both setting a fairly quick pace (I didn't get started until 11ish so I wanted to get as far as I could in case the weather, which was cool, but sunny, decided to revert to inclemency). His name was Dennis and we chatted and hiked, burning up the trail as we went. Dennis hails from Philly and is stained-glass artisan, a musician, a custom bike frame builder, and has a little psychiatry practice too. Multi-talented! He was a very affable fellow and we had a grand old time hiking and chatting. I found out why he was setting such a quick pace. He used to run professionally - long distances. I felt pretty good that I was able to keep up (at least until the last, short, steep climb to the top of the pass). We both were of a mind to stop often enough to drink in the views and to capture some of them on film - we were ideal hiking partners that day. Before I knew it we were at the top, Swiftcurrent Pass. Here Dennis bid his farewell and headed back, and I continued on (down, unfortunately as I would think later) to Glacier Chalet, which is actually a backcountry way station.

On the way up Dennis and I were treated to heady views back down Swiftcurrent Creek; the higher we got the more of the lakes along its course came into view. The waters of the lakes all had the same greenish tint/hue found in all the waters of the park. Beautiful, especially when the sun's full glory shone upon them. At one point as we came around a bend, at this point quite high up, we were treated to a wonderful view of another lake hidden from all but those who are able to gain sufficient elevation to gaze down upon its shimmering waters. To the left of the actual pass is a glacier, which when viewed from our now high vantage point, we were able to fully appreciate it's size and steadfast refusal to melt, even during the hottest of years. Cool (literally). Also, as we climbed higher, we crossed a couple of the streams which later in their paths became sinewy waterfalls down the steep sides of the walls surrounding Swiftcurrent Creek.

On my way down to the chalet I tried my cell phone and lo and behold I was rewarded with a strong signal! So I took the opportunity to finally wish my dad a belated Happy Birthday. Imagine being able to call someone from a spot such as that, surrounded on all sides with towering, jagged, multi-colored peaks, carpeted with verdant green meadows sprinkled with wildflowers, all at an elevation and distance from "civilization" which would prevent most people from even trying to reach it? Imagine!

I had a much-needed hot chocolate at the chalet as my hands were "frozen" due to the exposure of the fierce winds which were blasting up and over the pass. Warmed up a bit, I headed out and back up to the pass to start my long descent back to my snug little cabin (and Coronas!). It was at this point that I rued dropping down in elevation as much as I did to reach the chalet. Talk about a buns workout (Norma). Steel baby! Actually, it was more like "Buns of Fire" as I was now feeling it big time. Fortunately, it was less than a mile to the pass and I soon crested it and happily, tiredly, started my way back the way I had come, this time able to look directly at the marvelous scenery as I trekked. I eventually worked my way down and rejoiced in being able to plop in the easy chair just waiting for my tired butt to settle into it. Oh my aching feet! Not too bad really. Like I said before, a good tired. All in all a wonderful day of exercise, for the eyes as well as the muscles!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Well, at least bears. Yes, I saw a grizzly bear. Way off in the distance on the side of the peak behind the motel, but it was there. It was a big Silverback, and it was roaming the meadows up there, I imagine, feeding on the berries and grubs and such getting ready for the hard, long Montana winter. So cool! I've also seen mountain goats, ground squirrels and chipmunks, and many types of birds, as well as some cool-looking bugs (with pictures). Other people saw a momma moose and her calf, but she was gone by the time I got back. This is truly a wild place. It reminds one that we are the visitors to their home.

Tomorrow I'll see what the weather looks like for the next few days and then I'll decide where to next. I might stay here and hike up to Grinnell Glacier or I might head over to the west side, and from there maybe up to Kintla Lake. I'll decide in the morning. Until next time everybody, I hope your Labor Day Weekend doesn't involve too much labor and I'll update when I next can.