I love blogging. It is the greatest procrastination tool ever invented. As I take a break before tackling the next item on the to-do list, I take a quick look at WordPress and read a few posts, reminding me that this diverse world of ours is made up of so many interesting folks. But, I digress, and I do need to get back to work, so shall we return to the topic at hand? — Iceberg Lake Trail.
We did not have time for a road trip this year, so as I view the lovely photos of hikes and stories about camping from blogs such as Travels with the Blonde Coyote, Canadian Hiking Photography, Backpacking Kids, Thirdeyemom, and Adventures in Kevin’s World, just to name a few, I reflect back on some of the great family vacation memories from over the years. This is why I love photos – they allow us to reflect back and remember some of the details the overcrowded, overworked brain may sometimes otherwise lose along the way.
A couple of summers ago, we camped at Many Glacier Campground on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. Lovely campground. I will be sure to write a future post about why this popular campground is worth exploring. Logically, I could have started at the beginning of our Glacier road trip, but the Iceberg Lake hike was one of my favorite memories from the Park, and since this is my blog, that is where the Glacier National Park trip story begins.
We decided to join one of the Park’s naturalists as he led a small group of visitors on the almost five-mile trek to Iceberg Lake (leaving us to wander back the return five miles on our own). Because it is one of the Park’s more popular trails, we were unlikely to find ourselves on the trail alone anyway.
The Park naturalist provided some interesting narrative and insights into the flora and fauna (or at least the signs of fauna – such as bear fur on a tree, which was all the closer I needed to be to a grizzly on the trail) as we hiked along at a leisurely pace, allowing plenty of time for me to grab some shots of the scenery. One of the flora the naturalist pointed out was the beargrass blooming throughout the Park. The website “Discovering Lewis & Clark” quotes Meriwether Lewis as writing in June 1806, “There is a great abundance of a species of bear-grass which grows on every part of these mountains. . . .It’s growth is luxouriant and continues green all winter but the horses will not eat it.” Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen of it during his journey, naming it beargrass, although no source I reviewed seemed to know the reason for the name.
We visited the Park at the end of June, and the wildflowers were abundant along all of the trails and roadsides!
As we progressed along the trail, the full “amphitheater” of Iceberg Lake came into view. Truly awesome. Pictures cannot fully convey the wonder and magnitude of the curved mountain.
In the valley far below the trail, we could see waterfalls created by the melting snow from the mountains high above.
Iceberg Lake is known for its floating icebergs throughout much of the summer. Because we were visiting early in Glacier’s summer season, at the end of June, the Lake had only just started to melt, so there were no icebergs but only some open water surrounded by snow-covered trails and shoreline.
We unpacked our bag lunches as we sat on the side of the lake. While we ate, we were delighted to see two groups of visitors making their way down the mountainside – mountain goats and bighorn sheep. With only the zoom on my point-and-shoot digital camera, I could not capture a quality shot of them. The nimble footing of the young mountain goats as they tumbled and played with each other on the steep embankment was so entertaining.
After our leisurely lunch stop, we headed back on the trail again and followed the recommendation of the naturalist to refill our water bottles with snow (digging down several inches), providing ice-cold refreshment for the return trip.
The return views were just as inspiring.
Particularly if you are hiking the Iceberg Lake Trail with a family, the naturalist-guided hike is very interesting and informative, without feeling too much like a “tour.” The National Park’s website for Glacier National Park provides a regular schedule of Ranger-led activities throughout the summer season. While the Iceberg Lake Trail hike does involve some elevation, it is gradual and nothing too strenuous. Pack a lunch to enjoy at the lakeshore, and make a day of it! (Just be sure to check the trail status reports for the day before you head out, and confirm the trail has not been closed due to grizzly activity!) It isn’t too early to begin planning next summer’s road trip!
Ciao! ~ Kat B.