I should start this post by saying I have taken many a wander in the woods in my life, but really only been on a few hikes. The difference in my mind is when you need to “pack up”. Since Deb has been hiking her entire adult life, I really wanted to try it with her and Steve and she picked an “easy” hike to start. Be really careful here. Everyone’s rating system is very relative and what’s easy for some, not so easy for beginners. Plus of course your physical state comes into play so for a couple of out-of-shape smokers the bar for easy is pretty low. Also for me the content of the hike is important. I have no interest in hiking for the sake of hiking. I am trying to get to the thing I want to see and hiking is a necessary evil to get there. This may change as we get more experience, or maybe not I only went diving to see the fish, but when your reading this I wanted you to understand the perspective I am coming from.
First I wanted to share what we put in our pack. Most things in my pack came from discussions with Linda, but I have thrown a few extra things in for my comfort. Ask 20 people what to put in a pack and you’ll get 20 different opinions, so my overall thought here is put what you can comfortably carry and what gives you peace of mind. So I carry a “pee pack” which has a Ziploc bag, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and emergency feminine products. I have at least two power bars, waterproof matches, a compass, water purifying pills, and a mosquito head net. Also a first aid kit I made up that includes antiseptic, band aids, an ace bandage, ibuprofen, and cortisone cream. All of these things are probably overkill to some, but they weigh next to nothing and give me peace of mind. I’ve added two items that are a little bulkier that I am still on the fence about but for now we carry a cold compress and a fingertip wire saw. Here’s how I look at it. What would I need if someone was injured and we had to stay in a location for a while until help came. Is it likely? Absolutely not, but the extra pound or two is worth the peace of mind. The big weight items are lunch, bottles of water, and the camera with extra lens. I drink one 8oz bottle of water per two miles, so we definitely are going to need to get camel backs (back packs that have a water pouch in them) for longer trips. I have carried this pack once and Lee has carried it on another. We split the waters between us and whoever isn’t carrying the pack carries the camera. We absolutely haven’t figured all this out yet, but know we need better packs if we are going to do longer hikes.
So now that I have set the stage on with the hike. Avalanche Lake Trail is on the west side of Glacier and one of the most popular hikes. It starts out as the Trail of Cedars loop trail, which has a beautiful boardwalk and is wheelchair accessible. So you really get two trails for the price of one and if you don’t like to hike the Trail of the Cedars is definitely worth doing in and of itself.
As you are going along the Trail of the Cedars loop you will see a sign for Avalanche Lake Trail. This is a 4 mile round trip hike that I found moderately difficult because the trail was rough (roots and stones) and there were some points where the incline was on the steep side for me. BUT, you can go up the trail less than 1/4 mile and see this wonderful gorge. This part of the hike most people can do and there is no reason you can’t see the gorge and then turn around and go back to the Trail of the Cedars.
If you are able, you can keep going and hike to the Avalanche lake. The whole middle section of that trail is deep woods, which was interesting, but not interesting enough to take my mind off the hiking (just being honest here), but the end…well the end was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. When we got to the end I thought this is like childbirth. Painful, but so worth it at the end. So since I can’t possible explain what we saw in words, I am going to take you on a picture tour of the hike. These are in order so you can see it as I saw it.
This is where it got funny. We thought we might be able to make it through the woods and see the falls, so we picked a path and started in. By the way, this is not recommended as bears could absolutely have been in the dense woods. Lee actually took the lead though and we all sang songs to frighten the bears away. My favorite was when Steve, Deb, and I sang ACDC’s “You Shook me all Night Long.” Must have worked as we saw no animals, but unfortunately we couldn’t make our way all the way to the other side and finally turned back.
It was a beautiful ending to a tough hike and I definitely recommend it if you think you can do it. I am very grateful to Deb planning this and being so understanding about our pace. Also, to see something like that, off the beaten trail…well words cannot describe the blessing of that moment.
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