East Glacier to Two Medicine Ranger Station
I stared out of the window. The landscape that slowly moved by was stunning. Would I really be hiking here for the next days and weeks?
The Empire Builder Train was approaching East Glacier. I had boarded the train in Seattle to get across the country. Once again I was a big fan of Amtrak – the US railway company – and their outstanding service. It was all about the experience, customers were kings and surprisingly no one tried to press my last Dollar out of me. Foods and Drinks on the train were good and reasonably priced. An older guy from Trails on Rails (or something like that) started explaining the scenery right away as the train went through the Cascades in the early evening. I even got to see the PCT town of Skykomish! During the night hours I tried to catch some sleep which is still hard in the very comfortable and spacey coach seats.
In the early morning I woke up to sunrays shining through the train windows and got some first impressions of Montana. I had slept through all of Idaho! Well…
The train slowly made its way towards the Rocky Mountains. Whitefish, West Glacier and finally East Glacier were Stopps along the way. I hopped of in East Glacier. After checking out the public bathroom in the very small and old style station I made my way over to the local grocery. Rick, another visitor and immediate fan of my travels pointed me in the right direction.
At the grocery I searched for a one liter Smart water bottle but they had none. Nevertheless I interviewed the guy behind the counter about trail conditions and so on. He made some encouraging remarks and I thanked him for the information. I bought my water bottle at the gas station further down the road. It was about time for a late breakfast and so I popped into the Two Medicine Grill, a small local restaurant with ridiculous waiting times! How hard could it be to scramble some eggs?! I watched the time fly by and my available hiking hours vanish. To the next campground and Ranger station were I would get further permits, I had to hike around 11 miles. It was basically one big up to 7500 ft and then down again.
Fueled from the in every way late breakfast I left the small hamlet of East Glacier behind. Motivated I set one foot in front of the other and entered Grizzly country for the first time in my life. A sign showed some bear spray and I realized I didn’t buy any. I have to admit that happened on purpose, kind of. Somehow I do not like weapons, not even against bears.
Did I feel uncomfortable? Not at all. I met three local guys on horses and one adviced me to be careful “there’s bears out there”. Entering the forest I was wondering why he hadn’t mentioned the mosquitos out here. The little blood suckers gave me a hard time right from the start! I met a couple of hikers hiking in the opposite direction but other that that I was all by myself climbing up Bold Hill and even further up towards the top of today’s climb. Breathing hard I realized that I had spend another week off trail. I needed to get back in shape!
The landscape around me was already scenic and reminded me a lot of the Sierra. Maybe more like a mixture of the Sierra and the Cascades. The landscape here in the Rockies looks more wild. Short before I met the second hiker of the day I had turned into full rain gear (because it started to rain) and introduced myself with a loud voice to the universe as the “blue nun”. You are supposed to be noisy in Grizzly country. Turns out I always say crazy things when other people show up!
I climbed up on a ridge – up and up- and finally saw some company in the distance. Some famous Buckhorn Sheep were around! How cool is that!
They didn’t even back away from a hard breathing blue nun! I climbed up higher and what I thought would be more sheep (I have bad eyes) turned out to be a group of day hikers. They had come up from the trailhead at Two Medicine to get to the viewpoint. I skipped the view point and hiked some distance behind them. Just around the corner the first Mountain views appeared and it was just breath takingly beautiful!
I stayed behind the group and enjoyed every second from our hike towards Two Medicine. The mountain scenery reminded me a lot of the tour I had done around Mont Blanc last summer. It was just a little wilder out here!
Arriving at the Ranger Station it of course just closed. Well, I will have to see the Ranger tomorrow at 7am then. The campground was self check in but I stumbled over the price of 20 Dollars per night. I asked a girl nearby and she just invited me to her campsite. Of course I said yes and that’s how I got to know Bailey and Kendra. They are a blast and they are basically the reason why I made it to my tent well after hikers midnight.
Tomorrow we want to watch the sunrise above the nearby lake. And hopefully I get around tomorrow and can explain to you what I am actually doing in Glacier National Park.