Friday, October 7, 2016

Glacier Park's Iceberg Lake - The Hike of my Dreams

Glacier Park, Wild, Challenging, Drop-dead Gorgeous, land of my dreams.   Since I have been to Glacier before, I had a list of uncompleted hikes and unfulfilled destinations.  My first trip was marred by poor weather as it rained steadily every day.  Years later, I came with young children so hikes were limited by hikes accommodating short legs and views from visitor centers.   I could feel the anticipation build as we drove to the Many Glaciers Campground to set up a base camp which contained several possible hikes and adventures...

The nearby Swift Current lake also provided a sheltered pristine kayak destination with a nearby boat launch for exploring by kayak.

 Yes, we would love it here!!

Room with a view

After a visit with  ranger I selected Iceberg Lake as the hike I most wanted to complete. A challenging 10 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 1,100.  Though much longer than any previous hike this year (prior distance a mere 3 mile round trip hike), the reward of seeing a lake with icebergs floating was tantalizing and provided the incentive to push my comfort zones to view new horizons. 

I still had serious doubts about my ability to complete the hike but knew it was a worthy destination.  As my desired hike leaves from the visitor center parking lot, we were positioned to hike directly from camp and had developed a strategic plan,  turning in early for the hike.

       Ready for the hike - Bring it on!!     

I was fully prepared to take all day for the hike with as many breaks as needed for the hike as well as a few other tricks to complete this hike.  I was told that the most difficult part of the hike was the first 3/4 mile as it has steps and continued gain in elevation....yep it was hard but after that it was mostly a steady gain with beautiful views which provided much needed distraction.  

 I prefer the gentle incline...

While I have not been known for bird photos....once in a while I am privileged to snap a treasured photo.

An elusive Ptarmigan Grouse

Everywhere I look is a canvas ready for painting, or a bouquet waiting to be picked.

I stop countless times hoping to capture the brilliance of each wildflower, that photos can not repeat.


At moments I feel like we are all alone in God's great wonderland.  At other times, I feel transported to a busy intersection where I am the geriatric crossing guard with swarms of hikers passing by.

I am grateful for the moments of rest then pressing steadily toward my goal.

Our arrival at Iceberg Lake brought congratulations from those who passed us along the trail.  
  We Made It!  
We were now 2 miles farther than my longest hike this year and half way as far as we would need to go today.

In planning for this hike, I attached a inflatable backpacking pad to my day pack.  I spent nearly an hour resting before the hike back down the mountains.  I can't imagine a more beautiful view!

My fascination with the colors and variety of the Montana rocks is present everywhere I look.  And it is surely is evident here on the face of the mountains and also where the glaciers have carved out the glacier bowls and the piles of displaced rocks.

With each cloud that goes overhead casting variations of light, the colors change.  The above picture was taken with my phone and does not have any edits.   It was mesmerizing.... 

Tiny but Mighty

Iceberg surfing

One last look, and it is time to head back down.

From glacier, to lake, to creek, to waterfall 

 I have always preferred to hike a looped trail, but I am amazed that my perspective of the return is so different.  Same path,  but my sights are set on in a different direction. 

Oh my God....we have to go all that way DOWN. 

Finally we are down.

When I had the MRI done this last winter the Doctors told me the the spinal injury would continue to
progress and  limit the activity that I could engage in.  It has resulted in a change in my attitude.  
Each challenge I face I look at the demands that will be required , and ask myself, 

If not now, when.....

This day, I am elated....

Six and a half hours, 10 miles, 1,100 feet elevation gain.
Memories to last a lifetime.



  1. Wow,your photos of the hike are gorgeous! Thanks for taking us along!

  2. I am totally impressed, both with the pictures and with the fact that you did it!

    1. I love that all my blogger friends are responding to this blog as It was very special to me....hope that one day you will be able to do all the things on your dream list too.

  3. OH Karen, what a feet for you. And OH MY the beauty in it all. I found myself with my face just about into the screen and at the edge of my chair. Yes memories of a life time. Thank you so much for sharing this with us

    1. Glad you enjoyed it too. It felt to me like it was me against the hike, but more that I was IN the hike and a part of experiencing Glacier. I never thought that with my back problems I would be able to accomplish this level of hike.

  4. What a great accomplishment! We didn't make it to that trail when we were in Glacier, but now I want to go back.

    1. It was a great accomplishment for me, one I wasn't sure I could ever do. I too want to go back...everyday. I could do this hike over and over for it was more than the view, it was a powerful experience!

  5. Oh Glacier so gorgeous. My time there got cut totally short because I broke my ankle and couldn’t do anything. So this is a great post. We were on the west side and hoped to go to the East but we never made it. Exploring by kayak, music to my ears. Beautiful photos and so many flowers so late in the year. Iceberg lake is simply gorgeous but so sad that the ice burgs are in the water and melting, unless this is the kind of ice that comes back every year. The blue color is just heartbreaking. Smart idea about the pad. I actually love an in/out trail and when there is a loop I feel cheated that I can’t walk the other way back. It all looks so different. Your glorious pictures are magnificent from both directions. CONGRATULATIONS! If not now, when - indeed! Actually for us all.

    1. I remembered about your broken ankle and that it cut short your time in Glacier. I certainly hope that you will one day have the opportunity to hike Glacier. You would seriously love this hike. I could never finished this hike without the pad and all the stop and rest time.

  6. Yes, congrats! I did the hike 10 years ago and loved it. You had more icebergs in the lake than I saw. Beautiful pics!

    1. It will certainly be a hike that I will always remember!

  7. Good for you! That's a serious achievement!

    1. It is certainly one that I will always remember, grateful that I was able to finish it!!

  8. Karen, a resounding round of applause for you! This is fantastic! So proud for you, as I know you love hiking as much as I do! Your pictures are stunning! I hope you will print a couple of them and hang them on your wall as a reminder of what you can achieve when the mind and body are in synch! Very impressive, my friend!

    1. It was a great hike, making a perfect day that I will always cherish. What a great idea to print off some pics to remember the day!

  9. Bravo! And thanks for taking me along! I was struggling with bronchitis and asthma while I was in Glacier, so didn't do much hiking there. I am grateful that your writing and photos allowed me to get up in there.
    Clancy McKenna

  10. Your posts about Glacier are inspiring, you are doing a great job with the hiking.
    I have always wanted to go to Glacier NP and hope to get there sometime soon.