On our 3rd and 4th days at West Glacier we enjoyed a mix of daytime hiking and afternoon swimming & paddling on Lake McDonald.
Day 3: Avalanche Lake Trail
A bunch of us from our group did the Avalanche Lake Trail hike, a 4.5 mile out and back, the next day. The beginning of the trail meandered through the woods along Avalanche Creek. The water was high which created a lot of watery offshoots along the way. The many downed trees acted as little dams or jetties as the water continued to flow along the creek.
Before long the trail had opened up from the dense forest to reveal beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The kids found some great downed trees to play on while the adults soaked in the views and snapped some photos.
We all stopped to have lunch at Avalanche Lake before turning back again. From our lunch spot on the lake we could see 5 beautiful icy waterfalls cascading down the snow topped mountains. I can see why they named it Avalanche Lake. The lake is in a perfect bowl surrounded by a skirt of towering mountain tops. It was lovely!
Overall all the kids did a good job hiking. Considering there were 7 kids total it was pretty good. Singing, telling stories and being around friends kept down the whining. In addition to the girls’ ten cents per mile that we pay them when we hike they also get a ten cent no whining bonus. Both of our girls got that bonus without doubt. They loved hiking with friends!
That evening Justin worked really hard and got all 5 paddle boards blown up and out on the water. It was a bit of a rush getting them out and giving the kiddos a chance to play on them before it was time to head back to camp to make dinner but the kiddos did love it and that made Justin happy.
Since our phones didn’t work reliably at Glacier, Justin gave each family crew a mesh transponder so we could all semi-communicate despite all being in different camping loops in the park. This being said, Justin and friends had quite a run around that evening communicating about plans for the following day. All in all it took Justin about 3 hours to be the communicator between all the groups; a fun little night adventure.
Day 4: Mt. Brown Lookout Trail
On the forth day Justin, two of his college buddies and my good friend (the wife of one of the college friends) woke early and hiked the 10 mile Lake Trail to Mount Brown Lookout. It was a straight up and straight down type of a trail! It was a 4250 feet elevation gain in 5 miles. Justin said the mosquitos were crazy bad on the burnt forest trail which was 2/3rd of the way up. It didn’t sound like the best hike but the payoff was at the top for sure.
At the top they found Mountain Goats frolicking in the snow! They first spotted them prancing down the mountainside off in the distance doing binkies like our bunnies. If you have never experienced an animal doing a binki it is like a spastic jump with a little happy twist at the height of the jump. It is super cute! The Mountain Goats came right down to them. The goats were all around the lookout tower up top and didn’t seem to be fazed by the human hikers in the slightest. They even seemed to be posing for some of the pictures. Justin said they were very curious and had funny long legs.
Meanwhile while most of the adults were hiking, another good friend, her sister and I were in charge of the kiddo crew. The kids loved the time together to play and work on their Jr. Ranger books together. It had a very ‘one room schoolhouse’ feel when all the kids were working on their books, the youngest not writing yet and the oldest being 10 years old. So sweet!
That evening Justin and our friends paddled all the paddle boards out on Lake McDonald again. This time, instead of going by the boathouse by the camp loops we all went into Apgar Village, also on Lake McDonald, to paddle. Some folks got take out from the restaurants there but since there were no safe gluten free options we made our dinner in Azul, our van. We got some drinks to go instead and paddled around.
Justin and I as well as some friends paddled all the boards back to the campground, about 2 miles, while the rest of the crew took the kiddos back via van. It us about an hour to paddle back from Apgar Village to Fish Creek Campground with windy conditions. Not bad! The view was lovely and it was nice to have a little getaway with Justin.