It was a long day of driving. Let me tell you, driving through the state of Montana is extremely monotonous. Everything looked the same….for 6 hours. Just flat fields and expanse as far as the eye can see. Home on the range indeed. The gold on green was pretty but it was a rough drive west. One thing Ben and I noticed, almost every small town we drove by had an Asian restaurant/market. It was an interesting observation we made. As we approached Glacier National Park, the temperature dropped to 36°F and we had heard at a gas station that it snowed. Luckily, as we drove through the temperature rose about 15°, so it wasn’t too bad.
We first headed to the permit office to get our backpacking itinerary set. While we didn’t get the itinerary we hoped for, we definitely were able to put together a great plan B. First night at AKO (Akokala Lake), about 5.8 mile hike. Second and third nights at FLA (Flattop Mountain) and GRN (Granite Park).
After securing our stay for the night, we headed to Glacier International Airport to meet up with the last member of our adventuring party – Adam. At which point we went to get some food, at a brewery of course. Ben and I decided that whenever we go to a new city, we are going to visit a brewery since that seemed to have become a trend. So today we headed to Sacred Waters Brewing Co.
The establishment had a great atmosphere and aesthetic, and we ended up staying for a couple beers and some food. While I was not immensely impressed by their coffee stout, their kombucha was delicious and I really enjoyed their Beautiful Disaster Double IPA. Attached to the brewery (since they only served drinks) was Fork in the River. They had some really interesting menu items and it was 50% off wings. I ordered the roasted shishito peppers, and I really enjoyed them. After we ate and drank our fill, we headed to our dwelling for the night.
Because we had to be up early in order to secure our itinerary for the 9th and 10th, we chose to (instead of backpacking) stay at some nearby forest land. We were told at the backpacking office, that there were a bunch of in-roads that you could just pull into and as long as it was free you could camp there for free. Since it was only 5-10min from the backpacking office, we chose that option. Because Ben and I have Granite Park Chateau reservations and Adam did not, I was very concerned about making sure he had a place to stay at the backpacking site near the chateau. Ben really came through, and woke up early and just headed out to get in line at the backpacking office while Adam and I were sleeping. He said when he got there at 7:32 there was a line of like 20 some people. The office opens at 8 AM. It took him 2 hours to get our permit. He managed to secure the path we wanted though; I am extremely grateful for his tenacity.
We found a pretty awesome place for camp, and we made the most of it. It was a lot of fun. It’s really hard to describe the experience of building the fire and just hanging out around it drinking and eating. I took some pictures, but it just didn’t do the whole experience justice. I think Adam put it best, “This is just absolute freedom.” There are no park rangers telling us when to be quiet, or that we couldn’t build a fire, there were simply signs posted to please extinguish your fire and keep your food in your car so that wild animals wouldn’t be attracted. The skies cleared up, and despite the waning half moon we saw the milky way and innumerable stars. We walked over to the entrance where there was a huge clearing and took some pictures and did some star gazing. The whole night was really something. Magical.
Despite it being below freezing while we slept and pretty cold when we woke up, we are all pumped for our first night of actual backpacking. Updates will continue in 3 days.