Did you know that it doesn’t get dark in Montana in the summer until after 10pm? Well I didn’t! Last night when we headed over to the restaurant in the condo complex it was after 5 (yes, we are early birds here as well) and the sun was still way high in the sky. It was also the warmest part of the day and the golf course was hopping. Since we are committed to hitting the trails before the busier times of day we are going to bed when it is still light out. A new experience for sure. Anyway, that’s the Montana tidbit of the day. On to today’s hike…
Sperry Trail and Snyder Lake
Today we did an 8.5 mile out and back hike to beautiful Snyder Lake in Glacier National Park. We are still somewhat limited in hiking options in the park as they are finishing plowing/clearing the Going to the Sun road, the central road which runs across the park from east to west. Because of this there are numerous trailheads that we can’t access yet. The good news is that we expect the road to be open by the weekend at which time we will have many more options.
We decided on the Sperry Trail to Snyder Lake even though it is longer than what I usually like to do. I thought it was time that I push it a little and try something new. Plus, being able to handle a longer hike opens up many more options out here. The weather this morning was clear and beautiful. It was 48 degrees when we started and about 68 degrees when we were done.
Like yesterday, we started out early and had the trail to the lake mostly to ourselves. The entire first half of the hike was uphill (4.25 miles!) but the elevation was achieved through many series of switchbacks on very well-groomed trails with soft pine needles underfoot. We hopped over lots of babbling brooks and at points the trail narrowed with tall foliage on either side. The sound of fast-running Sperry Creek accompanied us for the first few miles as we climbed. Again we clapped, chatted and sang the whole way, ever-vigilant about the bears. No sightings today (sigh of relief).
Eventually, mountains peeked out from behind the tall trees surrounding us promising some exciting scenery:
Shortly thereafter the trail opened up to reveal a hillside of rocks that appeared to have been left behind by avalanches (no idea if that’s the case). It made for a visually interesting contrast to all the green. Here’s a shot of me taking a short breather on the rocks:
As we went on, the mountains that we suspected surrounded Lake Snyder came more into view:
That’s David patiently waiting for me to stop taking pictures and get moving! After over four miles of trail we were both anxious for the big reveal. Again the view did not disappoint:
This mountain is known as “little Matterhorn”. You can see the resemblance to the big one, right? Here’s a close-up:
And another view of the lake:
The return trip was entirely downhill and we appreciated the help of gravity. Admittedly, our toes in our boots took a bit of a beating but it was pretty easy going. From this direction we saw some beautiful vistas of the sun reflecting off the snow-capped mountains:
Finally we did have a little company (of the non-ursine variety):
We followed this guy right out to the trailhead and watched him gallop across the road and disappear into the woods!
After some lunch and snoozing we are revived and ready to find some good local eats for dinner. A brief look into dining options in Columbia Falls (where we are staying) and nearby Whitefish Lake suggests that Montana has quite a bit to offer in terms of locally-sourced eating. And there are lots of gluten-free options. A pleasant surprise.