LENGTH 5-6 miles
DIFFICULTY Easy with some elevation up to Avalanche Lake
DATE July 4, 2017
MAIN FEATURES Trail winds through towering Cedars and evergreen forest along waterfalls and rushing river to turquoise blue Avalanche Lake. Be sure to walk to the end of the trail for the best view.
Woke up before everyone again and ordered 18 Huckleberry Muffins from the bakery downstairs to make up for HUCKLEGATE 2017! Everyone got packed up and on the road early again today, and the plan is to hit Avalance Lake before the 4th of July crowd shows up. Parking can be a real challenge in the park even without the holiday, so if you are in a smaller group, the shuttle is a great option. We lucked out and found a couple of spots and were able to get on the trail by 9:30.
The trail starts flat and on a boardwalk. I love finding trails that are accessible to all abilities and this was definitely one. The Trail of the Cedars section is a flat, easy, scenic loop that is also nice and shady.
We left the loop to go up to Avalanche Lake. The trail starts with a pretty good incline and we were surprised by a few of the hills since the reviews said it was a flat hike (must not have read that part). It reminded me of the Superior Hiking Trail and Afton State Park in many spots. Roots, rocks, hills…
We saw at least 3 piles of fresh Bear scat on the trail before we came around the corner to the Avalanche River Creek outlet. The Scouts jumped onto the log jam to explore around, and we noticed a crowd was forming and people were looking across the lake.
A big Black Bear was slowly poking along the shoreline, munching on something, taking his time…being a perfect spectacle for us 4th of July tourists! We watched until he left, unfortunately I didn’t take a single photo…I was busy getting a closer look in my binoculars. After the bear sighting, we took lots of photos on the shoreline and watched the melted water pour from high up the mountains down into the lake.
A smaller group of us headed down to finish the trail to the very end. The trail was thickly wooded and full of thimbleberry leaves growing over our path, much like Isle Royale.
At times the water was a clear turquoise blue and looked completely magical. Other times, it was emerald green or blue gray. We put our feet in the lake, and I dunked my head in one more glacial lake to cool off. Our return hike took us though the final loop of the Trail of the Cedars, with towering Black Cottonwood, Hemlock and huge Cedar Trees…and LOTS of people!
We were glad we got to the trail when we did and were back to the vans by lunch. We scrapped our original plan to hike up to Apgar Lookout and instead spent time at Avalanche creek skipping rocks and enjoying the afternoon together.
I brought the ashes from out Campfire Ash ceremony and we held a brief mid day fire at the picnic fire ring. The Campfire Ash ceremony is one of my favorite traditions of Scouting. I got my set of Ashes at Scoutmaster training in 2012, but the first time we held a Campfire Ash Ceremony together as a troop was at our Glacier High adventure Trip in Apgar Group Camp 4 years ago. We have brought them to every Long Term Scout Camp and High Adventure trek since (even to Isle Royale and Seabase!).
Ashes taken from a campfire are sprinkled into the flames of the new campfire. Next morning, when the ashes are cold, they are stirred, collected, and the dates and places of all the campfires are recorded and passed on. This ceremony is a very special one and should be used only at meaningful occassions. It stresses our commitment to International Friendship of Scouting.
After our tiny fire, we had a group reflection and it was so great to hear how much everyone has enjoyed the trip so far.
After the hour drive back and a big Spaghetti dinner, a few of us headed back to Two Medicine to hike the Paradise Point trail at sunset. There were bear activity signs posted, so we kept our bear spray handy and made a lot of noise! Met a guy from Minnesota walking on the trail all by himself, so we invited him to join our noisy bunch! It was a great ‘after dinner hike’ and a chance to squeeze in one more amazing view of this place. I’m already sad thinking about going home…
If you have been following along, thank you for reading!
Next post: GLACIERS and how I scored my new favorite sunglasses!