LENGTH 4-5 mi
DIFFICULTY Easy to overlook without snow, but extremely steep down to the lake. Moderate to Difficult with snow.
DATE July 2, 2017
MAIN FEATURES Panoramic views across mountains, glacial lakes and snow fields, mountain goats.
One of the benefits of adventuring with Scouts is that the Senior Patrol Leader and ASPL decide each night what time we will start the next day’s adventure. They got everyone up at 6am and in the vans by 7! We pack our breakfast, lunch, snacks and gear for each day in the before we go, and everyone has been great about being on time. We put out a GORP station every morning with about 30 things to choose from. Everyone brought a couple of ingredients to share so there is variety that all can enjoy. I seem to be mowing down all of the peanut M&Ms. Super impressed with the teamwork of this group. I couldn’t ask for a better group of Scouts and Adults.
Drove up to St Mary’s entrance to the park and it was already getting busy with the upcoming holiday weekend at 8am. The Going to the Sun Road has only been clear of snow for 5 days and the Logan Pass visitor center opened a couple of days ago.
We had everyone bring hiking boots, warm layers, and extra socks. IT WAS SUNNY AND HOT! Most of those layers stayed in the car and we were off to hike up the pass in 3-5ft of snow! I am told that this trail is normally easy and is up a boardwalk without snow.
“What is that? A small mountain lake?” I took lots of pictures having no idea what was in store for us, we were already higher up than Scenic Point.
Huffed and puffed some more to the next level. Clements Mountain and Mt Oberlain towering over us, so close and so far at the same time…mountains have a way of doing that, humbling all things below. Meanwhile, Skiers and snowboarders were hiking up and skiing down! At what I thought was the end of our hike, the scouts asked if I wanted to continue 3 more miles to Hidden Lake! “We can go down there? Heck yeah!!”
I quick got down to my running shorts and a tank top and ran through the snow to catch them. Half of our group headed back down to Logan Pass Visitor Center and the other half, down the steep trail to the lake.
The second half of the hike made the first look like a cake walk. With this section being mostly exposed trails through melting snow, I was glad to have my trekking poles, but really wish I’d had my yak tracks. My new Hiking boots have NO TRACTION and I slid a little ways down the mountain in my shorts. I was surprised at how hard it was to get back onto trail, good opportunity to practice a self-arrest…and poke my way back up with my poles. Snow burn on my rump and wet shorts. Glad it was hot out!
Continued on through the bear grass that was just beginning to grow and not blooming yet, unlike the incredible display we had seen at Scenic Point yesterday. Glacier lilies EVERYWHERE, Bearhat Mountain, Mt. Reynolds, Heavy Runner Mountain and unbelievable views of Hidden Lake were ahead of us.
“Are we really going all the way down there?” I kept thinking?
Right around the time my shorts had dried out, I slipped again! This time I slid further and had to have some help getting back up. All of this was pretty entertaining until I lost my footing again, sliding further into some sharp scree. I quit screwing around after that.
Finally got back up to the trail, and my shorts were dry just in time for the merciless decent into Hidden Lake. We stopped once more to absorb its beauty and soak in its perfect mirror reflection of Bearhat Mountain before we would hike to it’s shore.
Down we went, almost biffed it again in the last snowy section and re-routed to dry ground. The scouts had already been there for a while, and had taken the snow hill as a a quick ride/slide down! They hike like wild mountain goats! When we finally got down there, we met a ranger that told us that we were there at a really good time. Hidden Lake had just opened and they would be closing the trail soon due to Bear activity as soon as the fish started coming to the lake.
This lower section was covered in glacier lilies and wooded with scraggly pine trees, a perfect place for lunch. We stayed down there for about an hour, watching icebergs float by while the scouts skipped rocks. Sidenote: skipping rocks was BY FAR the favorite pastime for our scouts on this and the Isle Royale trip (unless there is Wifi). It’s so good to see them enjoying an activity as ancient as skipping a flat rock on water.
One of our adults jumped in and SWAM QUICKLY, even pulling off a couple of butterfly strokes, impressing everyone! I went in to my calves and it was the coldest water I’ve ever been in. Colder than Lake Superior of McDonald Creek and instantly painful!
The incline back up was a little nuts at mid day, but we slowly plugged through it. Slow and steady wins the race: one mile 770ft climb, straight up. The Scouts went ahead but stayed in sight and gave us checkpoints. It pains them to hike as slow as us. Ha! The hike back was more technical because the snow was melting! Super slippery and I wasn’t interested in another sled ride in running shorts. After the 3rd or 4th snow field, we met a bold Hoary Marmot (aka Mountain Monkey) that clearly associated food with humans. It came so close, people were scooping up their children and leaving the area. I couldn’t help but think of the screaming marmot video again.
Later we saw mountain goats and hoards of tourists! We got in and out at just the right time and I was happy to leave the crowds. Get to this trail early to beat the masses and find a parking spot, it’s one of the most popular hikes in the park. People also usually stop at the first overlook, so if you can get down to Hidden Lake, definitely hike the extra 3 miles, it was my favorite view of the whole week!
Ended the evening with a double scoop of Huckleberry Ice Cream, listening to the entire Led Zeppelin Mothership album in my hammock outside of the Hostel by myself. After hitting it hard on the trail (some body parts more than others-ouch!) and months of planning, it was so nice to enjoy an hour to myself. I’ve said it before, but we have the best Scouts and Adults on this trip and I am grateful to be a part of it!
Next post, RAFTING and “HUCKLEGATE 2017”! In case you missed it, you can read about the start of our trip here