Pacific Northwest - Day 10 - Glacier Natl. Park - Huckleberry Mountain

Glacier National Park Travel Blog

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Bear grass on our trail

Our last day in beautiful Glacier National Park. Despite the "threats" of the Weather Channel, the weather came out nice and sunny again! Our idea for today was making a hike at higher elevation in a less tourist-crowded part of the park, north of the Apgar area. We had selected the hike to the 2010-meter (6593-ft) high summit of Huckleberry Mountain and its lookout. This would be the highest and longest (19 km / 12 miles) hike, with the biggest elevation gain (800 meters / 2624 ft). Later we learnt that it would also become the snowiest hike of the vacation.

Before going into the park, Stephan, who had celebrated his birthday a few days ago, feasted me on a great slice of huckleberry (relative of the blueberry) pie and a delicious huckleberry milkshake (for a bet he lost about four years ago).

Your reporter struggling with the snow on the trail (photo courtesy Stephan van Gessel)

Since snow is such an issue in the park we stopped at the Apgar Ranger Station to check if our hike would be OK from a snow and bear point of view. The ranger on duty assured us we would be fine. So we headed out and our great Toyota took us to the trail head at a 1200 meter (3937 ft) elevation. Unlike the previous hikes where we encountered hundreds of cars on the parking we only saw two other cars.

The hike started in a nice forest with lots of pretty bear grass, rather easy almost horizontally. But then it picked up a pretty steep slope which it kept in an almost perfectly constant incline for almost 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Taking us up almost 650 meters (2130 ft). The first span of the hike was still in the dense forest with many curves. The bear threat is realistic, Stephan brought a nice whistle, which saved us endless hand clapping like we used to do in bear-populated Alaskan areas.

Stunning views from the summit
 We scared them away, while writing this blog I learnt that this hike is rated one of America's 10 most dangerous hikes because of the heavy (grizzly) bear presence, especially in spring! (See here)

At an altitude of 1850 meters (6070 ft) we had to switch over from the mountain's south face to its north face. Almost immediately we found ourselves in huge snow fields that inconveniently covered our trail. Fortunately the trails did level out, so, instead of fighting gravitation it was now fighting the H2O crystals. We both wondered why the ranger had said there was no snow on the trail...

The views from the Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout were spectacular. So good that we could see heavy clouds and a rain front approaching. One missed us, the other caught up with us during our descent. Not too long fortunately. In the end we were still attacked by the "wildlife". About 1 km (0.6 miles) before getting back to the car huge amounts of persistent mosquitoes attacked us relentlessly and without giving up.

More pictures below.

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Bear grass on our trail
Bear grass on our trail
Your reporter struggling with the …
Your reporter struggling with the…
Stunning views from the summit
Stunning views from the summit
Delicious Huckleberry Pie and Shak…
Delicious Huckleberry Pie and Sha…
Delicious Huckleberry Pie and Shak…
Delicious Huckleberry Pie and Sha…
Bear grass on our trail
Bear grass on our trail
Flowers on our trail
Flowers on our trail
The trail with snow in the backgro…
The trail with snow in the backgr…
This is where we cam from
This is where we cam from
Moving from the south face to the …
Moving from the south face to the…
This is our trail
This is our "trail"
Stephan on the trail, or better,…
Stephan on the "trail", or better…
Your reporter struggling with the …
Your reporter struggling with the…
Your reporter struggling with the …
Your reporter struggling with the…
Flowers rule on places where snow …
Flowers rule on places where snow…
The trail is back from under the s…
The trail is back from under the …
The look out at the summit
The look out at the summit
The look out at the summit
The look out at the summit
Stunning views from the summit
Stunning views from the summit
A Glacier version of a nursery lo…
A Glacier version of a "nursery l…
On our way back, again one kilomet…
On our way back, again one kilome…
Stunning views from the trail
Stunning views from the trail
This is where we cam from
This is where we cam from
Stunning views from the trail
Stunning views from the trail
Stunning views from the trail
Stunning views from the trail
GPS height profile for this hike
GPS height profile for this hike
GPS profile for this hike (rendere…
GPS profile for this hike (render…
457,535 km (284,299 miles) traveled
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Glacier National Park
photo by: mrgishi