Crown of the Continent
In the northern part of Montana hugging the Canadian border lies Glacier National Park. The park actually has a Canadian counterpart, and together they form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park — a Northern Rockies gem. I have wanted to hike here for years under encouragement of my friend Hayley whose parents live in nearby Kalispell. Hayley’s engagement party was the perfect excuse to start an extended stay in the area.
I visited various parts of the park, some more touristy than others, and while everyone should (and will) visit the Going to the Sun Road, I was directed to the East side of the park by Hayley’s mom (and Glacier Park expert) Velinda for the prize hikes in the park. The longest and most beautiful hike I did was a double header totaling a breathtaking 16 miles. The trail I took — Iceberg lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel — takes the hiker along Glacial valleys, lakes, alpine meadows, and wildlife habitat home to Grizzly bears, Moose, Bald Eagles, Black Bear, Rocky Mountain Goats, Bighorn sheep, you name it. I did the hike in brand new shoes, resulting in my feet being out of commission for two weeks due to heavy blistering on my heels, making me wish I ‘had’ worn my Vibram five Fingers instead…
One of my more precious memories was paddling with the SUP board on Lake St. Mary following two Bald Eagles around, and later watching a large Black bear feed on some shrubs. Surrounded by this majestic landscape and wildlife it is hard not feel humbled and fortunate. There’s a gorgeous French film from the eighties with fantastic cinematography that was filmed in this area: L’Ours, or “The Bear”. Check it out. “The Crown of The Continent” moniker comes from the fact that Glacier feeds three major North American watersheds: The Columbia, The Missouri/Mississippi, and the Saskatchewan thereby contributing water to The Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Hudson Bay.