the 62-park traveler began with a simple goal: to visit every U.S. national Park. An avid hiker and botanist of public lands Emily Pennington collected tiny Van to travel and live, and set off. The parks as we know them change quickly and she wanted to see them before it was too late.
Pennington has committed to comply with CDC guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of himself and others. Visiting new Parks and adheres strictly to the best security practices.
In Buddhism, there is a practice of Non-attachment, which is called Nekhamma. It has never played such an important role in my life as on a glacier trip.
I expected six days full of classics: towering sedimentary peaks, grizzly observations, cascading veils of rapid waterfalls and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. But the truth is, nature had other plans for me.
My first broken heart was simple and easy to fix. The camp I had reserved months in advance, the one I set an alarm clock on at 6 a.m. and crawled out of my warm LA bed to book, which was perhaps the most difficult thing to book for this entire annual park project, was cancelled a month before my arrival due to a pandemic. No matter how many masks I put on and how many times I washed my hands in exactly 20 seconds, many glaciers don’t seem to be on the menu. The eastern entrance was closed for one year. I have researched other options.
The next broken heart really whipped me. Due to heavy snowfall, the park’s most famous landmark, the historic path to the sun, will not be plowed until my friend Brian and I arrive at the end of June. In fact, it would not even be open for a loop—its remarkable switch. I took a deep breath and began to consider other options.
Perhaps the most blatant insult was the weather. I planned to spend five nights and six days in Glacier, expecting rain (as any well-trained nerd usually does). Five of these days it rained, the air temperature reached forty to fifty degrees. Mind you, that was in June. I bit my lip and showed a smile, put on my heavy jacket and rebuilt the strategy for the whole week.
On our only sunny day, my partner and I struggled 14 miles to Chalet Sperry, one of the park’s two remaining 100-year-old mountain huts, and the 7050-foot Lincoln Pass. Our hearts rejoiced over the afternoon warmth and our feet trembled before almost 4000 feet of ascent, we dodged the marmots and took about a thousand pictures.
The rest of the trip we spent on creativity. I drove along the scenic road along the Flathead River and stopped at the Polbridge Mercantile and Bakery store, which was built in 1914. It was gas. A random selection of outdoor enthusiasts have gathered to indulge in the town’s famous pastries, especially the Huckleberry bear claws. I discovered a quieter, often forgotten corner of Glacier National Park overlooked in favor of Instagram selfies with towering peaks.
It almost didn’t matter that at the peak of our visit, for a night in the legendary Chalet Granit Park, it was cold, rainy and completely without a view. The park reminded me that nature is the boss, no matter how much my overachieving brain wanted to protest.
I became a master of incorrigibility, and I had a secret suspicion that my new Zen-like state would also spread to daily life, so that I could hover over all sorts of future disappointments and keep a smile on my face like in a glacier.
62 Parks Traveler Glacier Info
Size: 1,012,837 acres
Location: Northwestern Montana
Created In: 1910 (national park)
Best suited for: Hiking, mountaineering, scenic excursions, Camping by car, boating, excursions in huts, local history
When to go: The summer months of July and August have the warmest temperatures (44 to 84 degrees) and the largest masses. Autumn (21 to 60 degrees) is quieter and is ideal for serious tourists, while spring and winter freeze and offer little access due to the many closed park roads. (The listed temperatures were recorded in the Western Glacier.)
Where to stay: located on the Western entrance of the Park, The Mooseshroom (from $ 69) offers supernatural Glamping, complete with a hot shower and weekly s’mores specialties. Choose between car campsites and the rich amenities of Yurt rentals.
Where to eat: A Local on my camping Huckleberry bear called claw in half-bridge Mercantile the best food in Montana. You have not disappointed.
Mini-adventure: Drive along the famous road that leads to the sun, admire the view of the heavenly peak and admire the massive cascade of bird women waterfalls on this engineering marvel built in 1932. Stop at Logan Pass and stroll the Highline Trail for phenomenal summer flowers.
Mega Adventure: Spend the night in the chalet. The glacier is one of the few parks in the country with fully functional mountain huts built as early as 1913. The Sperry Chalet (from $ 237 per night) has a full hot food restaurant for those brave enough to go there with a backpack, while the Granite Park (from $ 115 per night) is more rustic, with a DIY kitchen.