St. Mary and Virginia Falls with Many Glacier

July 6, 2017 - Glacier National Park,, Montana, United States

We are loving this campground!  Finally we have had quiet nights of sleeping.  Most folks here are pretty serious about being in nature I think.  I suspect their days are as or more so, filled than ours and we’re all tired.  It really doesn’t get dark until almost 11:00 but I’m adjusting to going to bed in the light.  Bill said he heard some grunting or snorting in the night.  He figured it was a deer.  There were some ladies in the restroom this morning talking about a “strange sensation” in the middle of the night.  I have no idea.  I was out-like-a-light!On the trail to St. Mary Falls

This morning we decided to cross over the GTSR again to the trailhead for St. Mary Falls.  I hopped out of the car near some tunnels to grab a good picture from a window.  It was a beautiful morning and we were just getting started!  Just beyond St. Mary Falls was Virginia Falls.  I was hoping we’d be able to do that one as well.  We were at the trailhead at around 9:30 a.m.  There had been a fire on this side of St. Mary Lake in 2015 making this hike in the full sun, rather than in shade of pines as it had been in the not too distance past.  The fireweed was glorious!  The Trail to St. Marys FallsIt is definitely a trade-off when fire takes down part of the forest.  I went a bit crazy taking pictures here with the burned hulls of trees contrasting with the lavender of the fireweed, and glacial aqua of the lake.  Beautiful!


We arrived at St. Mary Falls very well satisfied with our trail choice.  After pausing for a few minutes we committed to continue on another half-mile to Virginia Falls.  A short distance up the trail the fire damage ceased.  Falls without peopleWe were walking uphill but in shade – hallelujah!  It was a steady climb to the falls but so worth the effort.  They were beautiful.  We first stopped at a viewing area slightly below where the falls for rest and photos.  Then we made the short climb to the top.  The icy-cold mist from the falls was so refreshing on this hot day!  We allowed ourselves time to recoup before making the 1.5 mile hike back to our car. At Virginia Falls


Next on our agenda was a trip to the Many Glacier area.  We had to exit and reenter the park to do this.  We stopped at Thronson’s General Store for ice and learned that quaint little place had been owned and operated by the same family since the 1920s.  As we approached the entrance to Many Glacier we stopped multiple times for cattle in the road.  This area is part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and apparently they have an open-graze arrangement with the park.


We had planned to do the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail around Swiftcurrent Lake to cap off our day. This trail was also without the interpretive brochures but we didn’t really care.  The trailhead to Grinnell Glacier Trail splits off this trail as well.  Signs were posted discouraging hikers from attempting that trail due to unstable snow bridges and dangerous conditions. Many Glacier Lodge


The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail was really a 2.6 mile stroll around the lake for us.  We were both content to take it slow and steady; enjoying the many views of Grinnell Point, Mount Gould, Mount Wilbur, the Garden Wall, and Mount Henkel.  One of the best features of this trail is that a hiker can easily detour through the Many Glacier Hotel (circa 1915) for ice cream or adult refreshments in the lounge.  The interior of this hotel was modeled after the alpine lodges of Switzerland.  We enjoyed a nice rest that included people-watching in the lounge.  This was a lovely trail but again I’m showing my age when I complain about the multi-colored plastic kayaks all over the lake.  It looks like folks are really enjoying themselves but the juxtaposition of colored plastic against this scenery just appears cheapening to me.  (“Get offa my lawn!”)Yellow Flowers Swiftcurrent Nature Trail


It took us over two hours to work our way back to our campsite.  We stopped at a grocery store outside the St. Mary entrance to stock up on more adult beverages and were reminded that this was a Blackfeet “no alcohol” holiday period.  We’d already discovered that earlier when stopping by a colorful looking saloon outside Many Glacier.  Instead we got an even better deal at the Rising Sun store inside that park that included my second bottle of huckleberry hard cider.  Tasty!


Bill made another beautiful fire.  Our newest neighbor, Nicholas (of Nicholas and Stephanie) stopped by to swap stories for the day.  It was a perfect evening.  I headed to bed pre-quiet hours and did not care.



On the trail to St. Mary Falls
The Trail to St. Marys Falls
on the trail
Looking toward the falls
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