Our last stop with the Sheffields was Glacier National Park.
The main attraction at this park is the “Going to the Sun Road.” It’s a narrow, 52-mile stretch of hairpin twists and turns, little to no guardrails, followed by sheer cliff drop-offs. Being the man of the group, Benjy felt it was his responsibility to do the driving, but he was very vocal about his displeasure of this self-appointed duty. I didn’t blame him for his apprehension. The road did look treacherous and the van he would be driving was only 1 inch short of the legal size limit.
Jen wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, however. It was, after all, the highlight of our experience at this park. So Jen and Benjy went round and round for 2 days. I sat back quietly and listened, because after nearly 22 years of marriage to this man, I knew all the grumbling was just a process he needed to get through before accepting his fate. Jen found the ritual a bit exasperating.
So, we set out early in the morning and inched our way up the mountain. The traffic behind us stretched for miles, but those unfortunate souls to our rear were invisible to us. Finally, we made it to the top.
Our reward was gorgeous views
and much cooler weather.
We also saw some mountain goats..
and a plump marmot.
After all the belly-aching Benjy admitted that he had made much a-do about nothing over the drive, but we were all grateful that he conquered the “Road to the Sun.”
The next item on our agenda was to hike the world famous Highline Loop. The hike is on the top ten lists of the best hikes in the U.S. We couldn’t pass that up! As we were driving to the trailhead a huge grizzly bear crossed the road right in front of our van. We screeched to a halt and the bear darted into the field next to the road. As the official photographers of the group, Jen and I jumped out of the van and cautiously followed the bear. We just had to get some shots of this guy!
I wanted to creep closer to get better pictures, but Benjy held me back.
We were grateful for the opportunity to see him!
Onward to the trailhead. According to the map, the hike was 5 miles long, right within our comfort zone…or so we thought.
The views were stunningly beautiful.
I could see why the hike was ranked one of the top 10 hikes in the U.S.
But, three hours in and we still had not reached the Grinnell Glacier. Hikers going the opposite direction kept encouraging us and telling us, “it’s not much further.” I was getting grouchy, tired and hungry. So much so that Benjy decided I needed to hike the rest of the way by myself. He and the others went on ahead while I groused at the rear.
And then there was this…
I literally gasped when I saw the view and then smiled. The Grinnell Glacier. At that moment, all was better.
We took off our shoes and stuck our tiptoes into the FRIGID water; we relaxed and took in the scenery, crisp air and brilliant sunshine.
For awhile we forgot all about how tired and hungry we were.
But then it was time to go and we realized we had made a terrible miscalculation. The hike wasn’t 5 miles round trip, but 5 miles ONE WAY. We still had to hike another 5 miles to get down the mountain. And that’s when the full on belly-aching started. We had no more water and no food, but we also had no choice. Downwards we stumbled.
At one point, Benny refused to go any further. Reagan took one for the team and carried him piggy back. Finally we made it back to civilization. We were pooped, but it was a great ending to our trip.