The Highline Trail

One of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park is the Highline Trail. You access the trailhead from the Logan Pass Visitor Center area. The trail is 15.2 miles long and gains over 1,900 feet of elevation, so it is pretty strenuous if you hike the whole trail. If you want to shorten the hike, you can hike to Haystack Pass (3.6 miles) and back (about 7 miles round trip.)

Near the first part of the trail you reach the ledge on the Garden Wall that hangs high above the Going to the Sun Road. If you have a fear of heights, this part may be tough. The ledge is only 4-6 feet wide and drops off about 100 feet on one side. There is a cable attached to the wall that you can hold on to. We saw some little kids that were very scared on this part.

After this part, the views start to get amazing. If you do not get on the Highline Trail early, prepare to see crowds. The Logan Pass parking lot gets packed too. It fills by 10am most mornings in July and August! We saw less than 10 people on the trail in the morning and had to let many people pass us on the way back. That tends to slow you down, so plan plenty of time.

We had two mountain goats blocking the trail at one point! A ranger came along and had to shake a plastic bag at them to move them off of the trail. It was not wide enough to get by them otherwise. One day soon, Craig and I hope to hike the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet built in 1914.  

 

 

Death in Yellowstone (and Other National Parks)

The past few weeks several very sad but avoidable accidents have happened at Yellowstone National Park. In May, a lady taking a picture of an Eagle stepped into the road and got hit by a car. On Tuesday, a pair of siblings from Oregon walked 225 yards off the boardwalks in Norris Geyser Basin and one slipped and fell into a hot spring. The water temperatures in Norris are the hottest in the park and range from 199 to 449 degrees. The day before, a 13 year old was being carried by his father as they walked off the designated trail in the Upper Geyser Basin. They slipped and got burned in a hot spring. Many signs are posted at the geyser basins warning visitors to stay on the boardwalks and marked paths. Information packets in different languages are also handed out when you enter the parks.

Rangers and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk have said that park visitation is already up 60% this year. It is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with cheaper gas, social media interest and unrest overseas, people want to travel to the parks. 

There have been a lot of “crazy tourist” news stories already coming from the parks. I am sure you read or heard about the two tourists putting a Bison calf in their car to save it because they thought it was cold. Or High On Life, a group of Canadian tourists with a clothing line that blatantly ignored several National Park rules and then posted the pictures of themselves doing it to Instagram and Facebook. They have warrants issued for their arrests, but made it back to Canada. Then you have the woman petting a Bison– a wild animal that weighs over a ton and can move at 40mph. Park warnings say to keep 100 yards from Bears and Wolves and 25 yards from Bison and Elk. This woman also made news by approaching an Elk too closely.

In Glacier National Park a young man just died jumping into a pool of water in Running Eagle Falls. A climber died in Zion in March and last year there was an awful accident in Keyhole Canyon.  The last time Craig and I visited Yellowstone in 2014, a young girl fell at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone the day we were there. Last year, a park employee made news when a bear attacked him while he was out alone running or walking without bear spray. On Monday a man fell while taking pictures in Acadia National  Park.

Throughout history accidents have happened in our wild places. Some are avoidable and some are due to weather and nature. I for one am glad there are still so many wild places left in this country and I hope they stay that way. Some great books to read before your trips are Death in Yellowstone, Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite and Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. There are also a few other parks with books like these. They will give you a new found respect for the parks and the people that have to try and rescue visitors that make often fatal mistakes.


If you are visiting any National Parks during the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, do some research before you go, read the information and warnings at the parks, respect the animals in their home and respect the fragile ecosystems.  If you plan to hike, carry water and bear spray or join a Ranger led hike. Too many are carving and spray painting rocks, leaving trash everywhere and not following warnings. Please do not ruin it for those of us that love and respect these places. Go and have an amazing time and be an ambassador for our parks!

Natural Places Nearby

Once you have a plan for the future it can be hard to wait. Craig and I have to be patient and save a little more money before we feel comfortable heading out on the road. That is why we gave ourselves until next fall. This also gives us more time to plan things out and search for a nice truck and RV. While we are saving and planning, we are spending as much time as we can in the open spaces and land near us.

We like to bird watch, so we have been going to several of the Mass Audubon Sanctuaries near us. Like the National Park Service, they are celebrating 100 years this year. We love to walk the paths in the woods and near the marshes. Every time we visit, we see something new. Yesterday two deer were bedding down right next to where we were walking. A hawk was being chased away by several birds and we also saw three snakes.  I have been posting pictures to our Instagram feed.

We have also been volunteering at the Essex County Greenbelt and the Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees are celebrating 125 years this year. It is nice to learn more about the wildlife around us, work and hike our trails and give some of our time back to the community. We enjoy being part of the events and are finding we are spending less money on other outings. We got to take a wilderness first aid class and plan on taking a longer one in the fall or next spring.  

We are also walking 3-10 miles every time we get out there. This makes a big difference when we hike on our trips. We are able to walk all day and enjoy our time in the National Parks. One more month until our big Glacier/Yellowstone/Grand Teton summer trip. We are really looking forward to it!

 

 

National Park Classes

If you are looking to learn more about the National Parks when you visit, you may want to attend one of the Association or Institute classes. I was scrolling through some of the new classes and hikes today and they look amazing! Here are links to The Yellowstone Association, The Yosemite Conservancy, The Glacier Institute, The Zion Association, and The Grand Canyon Association. Check out their classes and talks and let me know about any other park classes you see. Craig and I are going to be keeping an eye on their job pages as well. I would love to work in one of the park bookstores or as a guide.