The Hike to Iceberg Lake

Ptarmigan Falls

We were just passed Ptarmigan Falls on our way back down when from behind me I heard, “Oh Crap!!” I thought Brian must have hurt himself so I asked “What’s wrong?” He said “I just remembered I have the keys to the RV!” Uh Oh! I thought, Jane and Holly are not going to be too happy when we get back. We had started the hike together that morning going as far as Ptarmigan Falls. At the falls we decided that the guys would continue on to Iceberg Lake, while the women returned to the campsite at their own leisurely pace. Nobody thought about the one and only key to unlock Willard when we parted ways. The rest of the hike we brainstormed ways that Jane and Holly would break in to the RV, we had visions of Jane boosting Holly through the front screen window, or failing that to recruit one of the small neighbor kids for that duty. Alternatively we figured they were just over at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn cooling off and using the free WiFi. It turned out that they did use the WiFi, but we found them in good spirits lounging in the shade outside the RV waiting for us.

Although the hike out to Iceberg Lake and back was a good 10.2 miles and our longest of the trip, it was definitely worth the effort. Iceberg lake is part of a cirque. What is a cirque you ask? It is a half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion. Think of a giant ice cream scoop digging out half a mountain and you get the idea. The image doesn’t really capture it, but gives you an idea.

Our trip to Iceberg Lake was entertaining due mostly to two little boys hiking ahead of us. Boundless energy and a total willingness to get wet at every opportunity. At one point we caught up with them at a small stream where one of them was dunking his sweaty little head into the rushing water. His father, of course, was egging him on and taking pictures of the thing. Instant brain freeze was all we could think about. A while later they caught up with us at Iceberg Lake, which really does have icebergs floating around. One of them was just close enough to shore to be really really tempting for these two. The shoes were off and they were hopping from rock to rock determined to get to the little iceberg and claim in for their kingdom. The water was cold, REALLY COLD, so they were not willing to wade in above their ankles or for more than just a few seconds. We left before they claimed the berg, but we were convinced it was just a matter of time before one of them got completely soaked! We did catch this picture of a young brit who had brought his swimtrunks along on the hike for the purpose of getting in the lake.

Slow Down You're Movin too Fast

Grinnell Lake and Glcier

“Slow Down!” Ok, this was not delivered in the sing-songy spirit of the Simon and Garfunkel hit by the same name. Despite the fact that I was only going 15 miles per hour, apparently it was uncomfortable to those in the back. I’m not surprised as it was not a great, no, not even a good road. It was a crappy road 12 miles long to get back to the Many Glacier campground. A place that I had heard in my head the entire trip as the “Mini-Glacier Campground” was imagining something on the order of a snow cone. Tonight was to be our first RV night “boondocking it” No electrical, no water, no sewer. We switched into full conservation mode. The worst thing was we were also in a no generator zone so we couldn’t even make coffee in the morning. It really wasn’t that bad as we just walked over the the store with our travel mugs and got some.

We started out yesterday with our rental car and headed back up to Logan’s pass. One day ago it was shrouded in clouds, fog, and rain. But today the skies were sunny with just a few puffy clouds to make things interesting. What a difference a day makes. The sunshine gives Glacier a whole different look. I can’t even say better because despite the overcast weather of the day before it was still really cool. But, once we got to Logan’s pass we were set to make the hike to hidden lake. A hike in the snow!! Its June 26 and we are hiking in the snow! Layers People! We started with a lot of layers and ended up with short sleeves!

Today was, by far, the nicest day of our trip so far, with clear skies and highs in the mid 70’s! We started out in shorts and short sleeves today. The plan was to make today an easy day, saving our energy for tomorrow’s hike to Iceberg Lake (or Ptarmigan Falls). Instead we did 7.2 miles around Swiftcurrent, Josephine and Grinnell lakes. The thing about hiking is that you always feel fine when you make the bad decision that takes you just a little bit further than your feet would like to go!


In keeping with the theme of this post, it is also clear that I am not a good person to lead the hikers. My stride is too long and my pace is too fast. “Slow Down!”

Tie Your RV Down

MacDonalds Lodge

As we got in the car to head over to the hot tub at the KOA in St. Mary’s Montana, I pointed to the rope tied to the rear view mirror of the RV and the picnic table. I said it looks like we tied the RV to the picnic table to keep it from blowing away! Ha, imagine a picnic table holding back a 32 foot Winnebago in a 25 mph wind!? But 20 - 25 mph winds are what you get in St. Marys, just east of the continental divide. We had a lot of wind all day yesterday and today as we drove from Banff to Glacier. This area is known for its wind and highway 22 even had signs with warning lights for RVs and trucks for days when the wind is gusting and dangerous! Thankfully it was not bad for us at the time we drove that stretch.

Now, we are in a KOA campground, a source of some discontent amongst the group. however it has a hot tub, pool, and laundry facilities. These are all good things after a week of traveling together. Plus they also rent cars that you can take on the road to the sun. This is good as our RV would never be allowed to attempt the journey. The roads are indeed very narrow, and the rocks overhang on one side and would definitely tear off parts of the RV!

This morning we got up and were on our way by about 8:00 on the “road to the sun”. The main problem was that the sun was not cooperating! When we got to Logan’s pass we could barely see in front of the car because we were right in the middle of the clouds. But, we kept on going and in the end we were rewarded, not with sunshine, but with “lord of the rings” mystical beauty. The above photo is from MacDonald’s Lodge. Although the national park is called glacier, it could more appropriately be called waterfall national park at this point!


After MacDonald’s Lodge we took the Avalanche Lake hike! Wow, was this pretty, even in the dripping rain the sites along the way and once we got to the lake were well worth the hike!

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake

After the hike we headed back the other direction on the road to the sun and by this time the clouds had lifted enough for us to really enjoy the scenery!

Glacier Valley

Of course no trip to Glacier, in June, would be complete without photos of the giant snowdrifts-cum-glaciers that we humans plow out of the way for the tourists!

Avalanche Lake

And finally, no trip to Glacier would be complete without a picture of Goose Island!

Avalanche Lake