My first day in Glacier I do what most everyone else does: I drive the “Going to the Sun” road. It’s the main road through the park and passes through the continental divide at the top. I think I must have been spoiled by Banff because these mountains seem just a little less impressive especially without snow and glaciers marking out their features. But the park is gorgeous and decidedly American, with vintage red stretch cars moving tourists around.
There was a magazine ad I saw for the park, showcasing the red tour cars and urging tourists to take the morning departure because at the end of the trip you were rewarded with pie and they might run out. Pie, eh? I pictured it at the top of the Going to the Sun Road. Maybe at the Visitor’s Center or some Chalet you had to hike to. So the advertising worked. I was here and I wanted that pie. But I didn’t see any restaurants anywhere in the park.
After camping one night on the westside of the park, I asked a ranger about hikes and then embarrassingly, asked, “So… where’s this pie?” She didn’t understand at first, but knew the tours stopped sometimes at the Park Café outside of the park boundaries on the eastside of the park. I was already planning on going back through the park to the eastside for a hike, so I stopped at the café and got my pie - blackberry a la mode. It was super.
Fuelled by pie, I felt confident to set out on my hike up to Iceberg Lake. It’s a 10 mile hike and I’m starting late in the day at 2:00. But again, fuelled by pie I speed past lots of other hikers with their little bear bells clanking from their packs making them sound like reindeer. There are enough people on the trail that I’m confident any bears in the area would avoid the trail, or at least I’m confident that I can run faster than the other hikers. The hike has a very gradual assent of 1,200 feet and ends at a rocky amphitheater surrounding a deep blue lake with some glaciers skirting the edge. I have to admit I’m disappointed not to find any actual icebergs. But the amphitheater of a rocky cliff is what really impressed me when I first saw it from miles off and guessed that was where I was headed. The whole hike had excellent views and I really enjoyed being able to set a fast pace because there weren’t steep hills to climb.
On my way back down I see they have closed off a branching trail because of “bear danger.” Uh-oh. I make it to the car and head out, but stop where many other cars have pulled over and discover that everyone is looking at a bear! A black bear right near the road. He doesn’t even seem to notice any of us, but just trudges off into the bushes. I feel much better after seeing a bear. I’m still frightened like I should be, but I’ve studied that bear safety brochure and if I see a bear on the trail, I know what to do.