Filed under: Family Camping, Family Day Trips, Nature & Wildlife, State & National Parks
Hiking Logan’s Pass
I have a fall birthday. I love the fall and the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors as my birthday nears. The air turns crisp and cooler and the heat and humidity of summer pass by. Most of the time, I really enjoy having a fall birthday.
The one time I do not, however, is when we go to celebrate my day. The kids are back in school and we are back to the grindstone full time. There never seems to be enough time to get away, even for a few hours. This is when I wish I had a summer birthday like my husband Terry who was born July 26th.
For two years in a row, we spent one of the best days of our marriage on his birthday. Both of those days were spent camping in Glacier National Park, which happens to be our favorite national park for obvious reasons—it is gorgeous! When I asked my husband what he wanted to do on “his day”, he came up with the idea of taking a hike on our favorite Glacier Park Trail, the trail to Logan’s Pass. It is something we must do every time we stay in the park, a tradition that quickly began with our first visit when our children were very young.
On this recent birthday, we leave our campsite in midmorning and head east on Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most picturesque roads I have ever driven on. (Though I have not yet ventured to Alaska, but that’s on my list as well). We park in the Visitor Center lot, use the restrooms (always a good idea, even with the kids getting older!) then head out the back of the center and begin to ascend. The first mile or so is a rather bland uphill trek with little scenery that is just getting you to the point where the best part of the trail begins. Once you get through this early part, it is worth the hike. The kids are delighted by the sassy little marmots playing hide and seek with them as we hike.
Soon we reach the top of this crest and the real beauty begins. Reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, there are mountains all around, the views broken up only with meadows filled with colorful wildflowers nodding to us as we pass. Curious mountain goats and rams amble past us or sidle up to us as we take a short break, looking for a treats. One sneaked up on Meghan as she was sitting quietly on a rock; she was quite startled when she turned her head and there he was! On one pass, we even had to walk through snow on July 26th. The kids thought that was a hoot!
Finally the sun is beginning to set and we start heading back down. Ryan, a rambunctious 14 year old, feels the need to run down the trail to try to be the first to reach the visitor’s center. His mother, not wanting him to get too far away as he is likely to do, runs along behind him. Suddenly we rounded a curve at a dead run and can now see the Visitor’s Center at the bottom of the trail below us, still about a mile away. Ryan stops dead and turns and looks at me, shouting, “Look Mom, we’re almost back!”
Two women, who must have been in their mid-60’s, were on their way up from the Center and struggling with the initial uphill part of the hike. Upon hearing Ryan’s comment, one of the women abruptly sat down on the nearest rock, putting her hand over her heart, and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! I think we’d better turn around!” We assured her the trail leveled out a bit and that it would be worth the hike, but I’m afraid Ryan’s comment, and the perspective that we were “almost back”, when she felt about done-in, was almost more than her heart could take. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful hike. And I am jealous every year in September as I get the kids off to school on my birthday, then head in to work, wishing I could be spending “my day” hiking Logan’s Pass. Read more about Montana camping and things to do in Montana.