The Glaciated Mountains

Warning: Mild cursing

Day 1:

Tom is a god damned idiot. That’s my conclusion. I’m an idiot!

The first day of my four months wander that will eventually take me to the rain forest of SE Alaska, and I don’t have…………rain pants. I know, laugh at me all you want.

I don’t know if I’d live long enough to joke about the silly things I did or rather, I’ll do if I keep on messing up like this. Well, at least I didn’t die on day 1. That’s a plus!

Let’s see, where should I begin?

I guess I should describe Apgar Lookout Trail, the first hike of my journey! The Apgar Lookout Trail is about 2-3 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park (GNP). There’s a 1/2-mile distance from the entrance to a small dirt road that leads to Glacier Institute. On one side of that road is the Glacier Institute and on the other, a horse stable and two gravel roads. Head toward the horse stable and take the left road. In about 1.5 miles, cross a small bridge atop a river junction. Stop right there and take a look at the great phenomenon right bellow your feet. Crystal clear water merges with silty brown. You don’t see that everywhere. Another 0.5 miles and the trail head should be visible from the small parking lot.


The trail itself is only 7.1 miles round trip at 1845 ft gain in elevation and averages 520 ft. elevation gain/mile. There’s a 5 miles distance to get to and from the trail. Keep that in mind friends, especially if you are a car-less vagabond. Also, remember that mountain weather can change very rapidly without any warnings. SO ALWAYS PACK RAIN GEAR!!!

The Apgar Lookout Trail is a strenuous trail. Therefore, it is relatively empty. That means solitude, something I crave intensely.  Hence the decision of hiking there.

Trekking steadily up the mountain toward the lookout, I turned a corner that oversees a valley. Two things struck me immediately: The magnificent view that stretches as far as the eyes can see, and a big, stormy cloud that’s heading in my direction.

Whether or not I’ll get caught in the rain is unclear, so I rushed toward the top……or tried to. Unfortunately, I haven’t hiked anywhere with an elevation for years; that’s not to mention the difference in air density from the flat plains of Minnesota to the rugged mountains of Montana. One thing is clear. However, there’s no way I’m giving up before I get to the top. Back to trekking it is! I’m sure it’ll all be worth it even if I get wet. Regardless, I love the rain.

I’m struggling a bit. It is a tough hike, but I shouldn’t struggle so much. Three months went into preparation yet I’m still out of shape. I guess I’m a bit arrogant. I’ve always considered myself to be rather fit and healthy. Therefore, I didn’t exercise as hard as I should. That will be a lesson for the future. Never assume that I’m fit enough just to show up and wing it in nature. That’ll never work in my favor. Instead, respect nature and always prepare as carefully as possible……hey look, a couple of people….jogging up the mountain as if it’s flat. Wow, they’re fit. That’s it; that’s my new aspiration. To jog up mountains as if they’re flat!

Almost there…………c’mon Tom, you can do it……….almost……….. the lookout is insight now!!!…..home stretch…….Yes! I’ve made it to the top

……………………… (Silence) ……………………….

Woah, the view is breathtaking up here. Lake McDonald stretches across the valley to the glaciated mountains! How beautiful. Scorch marks left behind by the Robert fire are unmistakable from up here. Vast expanse of forest burned. I wonder how many poor animals died from that terrifying heat. A moment of silence for all the suffering souls everywhere.Apgar-1

……………………… (Silence)  ……………………….

Weather seems bipolar up here. Just this morning there weren’t even any clouds. 20 minutes ago it was sunny and windless. Now the wind’s blowing furiously and rain’s falling.

Time to head back down. There’s no way I’ll make it back to camp dry. I have no rain gear with me remember? Even if I have my rain gear, I’ll still be wet from the waist down. That’s ok, though. I’ve always loved rain. The wind does seem a bit intense though.

AHAH! There’s the trail head. I made it! The first hike of my journey and I’ve made it out alive! What an enjoyable excursion. Tough, but enjoyable. I’m elated even though I’m wet, cold, and tired. I’ve hiked over 12 miles today, a big chunk of it uphill. There’s still three miles to go before I get back to camp……….what the hell, let’s hitchhike instead. Oh hey! The couple that jogged up the hill. My new inspirations to get in shape! Thank you guys for the ride back to Apgar campground. I appreciate it greatly.

After an exhausting first day, I’m finally back at camp! I am soaking wet, hungry and tired, but I feel great. It feels great to ramble about, exploring and enjoying the great out of doors. I’ll reward myself with instant mash potatoes and summer sausage. I’ve earned it.


Today’s just the first day, however. Who knows how many more rainy days are ahead, who knows what kind of challenges there will be, I do know that I enjoy every second amidst nature, breathing fresh air and rambling around. Let’s just bring proper gear next time!

I’m tired, but happy!


2 thoughts on “The Glaciated Mountains

  1. Great post! It’s so easy to underestimate information we cull online or in books – at least until we’ve experienced the volatility of nature first-hand. I’ve visited GNP for the last two years in a row (the first time was just a sip – the second was to “do it right”). Last year, I neglected to prepare for rain and cold. Man, I shivered my ass off in JULY! I’m from the South and read it would be cool – but I never dreamt I’d be blowing steam from my mouth in the height of summer. So this year, I packed hoodies and rain gear – good thing, too! About 1/5 of the way back down from Iceberg Lake, it started raining. Crisis averted – that hike is too long to do it soaking wet. It still whooped my ass, though – how does one prepare for mountain hiking without mountain hiking? And to the dude that ran by me on the way up and on the way back down (before I’d ever made it to the lake) – kudos to you. But also know I’m shaking my fist at you for pointing out just how much of a struggle it was for me!

    But it’s all worth it. Every single step. Soggy from the rain or not. It’s all part of the adventure – part of the story.


    1. Thank you! I know exactly what you mean.Your experience pretty much sums up mountain hiking right there. The Iceberg Lake Trail is quite a beautiful and tough hike I’ve heard. That’s one of the hike I’ll definitely do when I get back to Glacier.

      You’re right, every step of the adventure is a part of the story. Savour every bit of it!

      Thank you for dropping by again! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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