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Published: July 18th 2011
At the end of our Crypt Lake hike, a fellow hiker came down with his hiking poles and after talking with him we realized that they could be quite helpful. As we discovered, they allow you to use your arms to take some of the strain off your legs. This is useful both in ascent and in descent, sparing muscles going up and knees coming down. So we bought collapsible hiking poles before attempting our next hike. Today's goal: Grinnell Glacier. We had done this hike many years ago with the kids, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had seen, so we wanted to repeat the experience. On our previous experience, Clint was ten and Ashley eleven. When we finished the hike, a woman was sitting alone in the boat back to the hotel, and we struck up a conversation. She said she had done the 11 mile hike by herself because her husband and sone had to turn back because her son was only eleven. Clint told her "I'm only ten and I did it". Great response.
Instead of taking the boat to the beginning of the trail, we drove to the trailhead and started
up. This is not a trivial hike, although not as brutal as Crypt Lake. It is an 11 mile round-trip with a 1700' ascent. It culminates in a glacial-fed lake, and on our previous visit there were bighorn sheep wandering around the area of the lake. Along the way the trail provides wonderful vistas of the streams and lakes that form the "string of jewels", the string of lakes that descend the valley below Grinnell and Salamander glaciers. Each of the lakes, as they get lower and lower in the valley, gets bluer and bluer as more glacial particulate is progressively lost. To see the full effect, you have to get to the top and look down the length of the valley. Unfortunately, that was not to be. This year was an unusual one for this area of the country. In general, many of the areas through which we are traveling had about twice their normal snowfall. As a result, openings of roads and trails is delayed. The last two miles or so of the Grinnell Glacier Trail is closed because of the heavy snow on the upper end. We were forced to stop after about 3.5 miles, and I
estimate a climb of over 800-900'. This means that in the two big hikes we covered some 13-14 miles and some 2000' or more of ascent. Given our ages and decrepit condition, not bad.
Still, we got high enough that we were able to get good views of the glaciers and the multiple waterfalls carrying the runoff as they begin the melt of the summer. Unfortunately, that is going to be vanishing sight. Global warming is nowhere more visible than here. There are photos showing the glaciers over the last century or so, and they are all shrinking, usually dramatically. It is estimated that Grinnell will be no more after 2030'. I wish Jim Inhofe and his global warming deniers would come and look.
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