August 4, 2017. August is Glacier Month at BCS because, well, what’s Better and Cheaper than finding a cool spot in a national park in August? What’s Slower than a glacier? What’s cooler than seeing seven glaciers in a single hike in Glacier National Park?
So make your plans, or just make believe with this big, detailed Google Map I made for you. Click the little blue-and-white Google Earth icon and do it in 3D. Zoom in and fly over Siyeh Pass. Look up at the Sexton Glacier. Down to the Siyeh Glacier. And back across the valley to the Red Eagle, Logan, Blackfoot and Jackson Glaciers. And check out the Piegan Glacier when you come around the bend.
If you walk the complete loop, it’s 12.5 miles. About four miles along the Siyeh Pass Trail and up about 3,300′ to the breathtaking views. They’re worth breathing hard up some pretty steep switchbacks on the final stretch to the Pass. This first ninety minutes to two hours will burn upwards of 800 calories.
Then you’ll work your Way back down the other side. Around Going-To-The-Sun Mountain and down through vast meadows completely covered with wildflowers. The views are still breathtaking but the trail’s a breeze. A 1,600′ descent along 4.5 miles to the intersection with the Siyeh Bend Trail.
Now it’s time for the day’s Big Decision: make a hard right and head a half-mile down to the road to catch a ride on the Park Service shuttle? Or stay on your feet for four more miles to complete the loop and visit the very beautiful St. Mary’s Falls and Virginia Falls on the Way? FYI, you burned another 800 calories on your way to the decision point. You’re at 1,600 and counting.
Go for the loop and make a day of it. A 2,400-calorie burn day. You’ll cross Going-To-The-Sun Road right at the spectacular Jackson Glacier Overlook. The classic Glacier view.
Then down through more meadow and forest. Mostly fir and maple trees. More flowers. And the Falls. Not huge. But very beautiful. Blue, blue water and red, red rocks. Dip your toes in if really want to, but beware. It’s freezing. Well, a degree or two above the temperature of ice. Last stop for this water was a glacier.
Today’s Way is intended as an inspirational. If you’re in shape to do this hike, get out there and do it while the glaciers are still there. If you’re not – get in shape so you can. You’ve got until 2020 or 2030. That’s when the geologists and climatologists say the massive glaciers will disappear, completely. Really. Click to see U.S. Geological Survey photos taken from 1938 to 2009. They document the gradual disappearance of the Grinnell Glacier, now just 30% of its former self.
You’ve got 12.5 miles under your belt. Which you can probably tighten up a notch or two because you just burned 2,400 calories during your seven hours of glacier sightseeing. When it’s time to replace some of those burned calories, the Park Cafe is the place. Just outside the St. Mary’s (East) Gate to the Park. Their pies are famous. They should be. Strawberry rhubarb or blueberry if they’re not sold out. Savory: the Gypsy Burrito or the Veggie Quesadilla.
$25 gets a carload of you into the Park for a week. For all the health benefits of exercise. The added health benefits of being in green, natural environment. And a free shot of Vitamin D. In a spectacular Slower setting: took two million years to carve this landscape.
Click to see every step of the Way on the big Google Map I made for you