Karma Came and Got Me – Hiking the Highline Trail, Glacier National Park

Sunday morning started out favorably as I woke up to find a blurry picture of myself on the front page of the Daily Interlake. We had attended the Mountain Man Rendezvous on Saturday in search of trapping and skinning demonstrations. None of those activities were to be found, but we did try our skills at axe throwing.


David was pretty skillful at axe throwing.


That’s when Brenda Ahearn of the Interlake was taking pictures of others and caught me in the background.


Blurry Marlene in the background.


David suggested it just goes to show you how small Kalispell really is because we’ve had our picture on the front page of the Sunday paper, three times.


He’s got a point but I personally think it is because we are always looking for something to do and happen to be at the right place at the right time.


Going Hiking

After looking at the paper and packing our gear, we managed to get out early and head to the Park. We got on the Sun Road and started driving to Logan Pass. In case you‘re unfamiliar, The Going to the Sun Road is a steep – two-way – narrow winding road up a mountain. Traveling east you drive along the edge of a cliff, and traveling west you drive very close to the rock wall.


The Going to the Sun Road. Do you see the mountain goats on the side of the road?


David was nonchalantly driving east when suddenly an oncoming vehicle crossed into our lane. As a passenger riding along the edge of a cliff, my heart began pounding when I saw this. David veered to the right to avoid a collision.


Would we meet our demise by plummeting over the edge of a cliff?


SCRAPE. David sideswiped the stone wall along the edge of the road. Our running board was damaged.


What was that guy thinking? Was he so scared to scratch up his mirror that he would sacrifice us all? I’ll never know. We kept going.


The Highline

It was chilly and breezy when we arrived at Logan Pass, but there was no lingering snow around the trail head to the Highline.


Five feet of snow three weeks ago at the trailhead, July 17, 2011.


No snow at the trailhead, August 7, 2011


It was a busy morning and trail activity was brisk. The Highline never fails to please and glacier lilies bloomed profusely along the trail.


David stands in a field of glacier lilies as he takes a picture.


We crossed snowfields and saw wildlife in the form of mountain goats and marmots.

A young mountain goat.


As we hiked, we contemplated how we would make the return trip and whether or not we would take the trail to the Grinnell Overlook.


Grinnell Glacier Overlook

After about 7 miles of hiking, we spotted the Granite Park Chalet.


Granite Park Chalet as seen from the trail.


We knew that shortly we would come to the junction for the overlook. When we did, we read the sign. It said the trail was .6 miles long. We stood and watched a few minutes as people worked their way to the top.

I asked a guy that was coming down, “How was it?”

“It’s the steepest trail you’ll ever take,“ he said.

The guy with him offered to show us his pictures in the event that we didn’t want to go.

We did want to go and began our ascent. Mallory and Eileen walked up ahead while David and I began trudging up the trail.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was going to be a struggle. My head started to throb, then a wave of nausea came over me. It was walk a bit, stop a bit – over and over again.

I kept telling myself that I was lighter than air. It didn’t work. About 3/4 of the way to the top, I whined to David that I felt “bad” and couldn’t make it.

We found a spot to remove our packs and sit down. Trail activity increased and we watched as other hikers huffed and puffed their way past us. All stopped to take a rest.


I’m not sure we captured just how steep the trail is.


One hiker burst out loud, “Why do mountains have to be so high?”

Some spoke to us while they rested and recovered. I told one of them that I was a quitter.

He exclaimed “no” and tried to encourage me to keep going.

I explained that karma had come and got me. David gave further details telling him that I had written a blog post about quitters. The hiker listened while his female companion sat in silence with her back towards us.

I think she was feeling poorly too. It was a hot, dry day and I suspect that many of us were dehydrated.


The notch in the Garden Wall. So close, yet so far away.



Mallory and Eileen were out of sight and over the notch. I finally asked another hiker to find them at the overlook and tell them that we weren’t coming up and that they should come down.


Mallory and Eileen come back down the trail.

Lunch at Granite Park Chalet

We continued our hike to the Granite Park Chalet for a snack before descending down to the Loop where we caught a bus back to Logan Pass, where we were parked.


Lunch at the Chalet


We hiked 12 ½ miles that day in beautiful surroundings, but I am still disappointed that I didn’t make it to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. I missed crossing the notch in the Garden Wall and standing on the Continental Divide to see some of the most spectacular views one can imagine.

David found a site by Phil Armitage that called the six tenths of a mile to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook a “…viciously steep climb of a thousand feet in less than a mile…”

I could not have said it better myself.

Will I attempt it again one day? Perhaps.

Till next time,



One thought on “Karma Came and Got Me – Hiking the Highline Trail, Glacier National Park

  1. How appropriate I just found this article! Yesterday, my family and I set out to hike Lazy Mountain in Palmer, Alaska. The trail goes straight up the mountain and climbs just 3045 feet in 2.5 miles. It had been raining a lot and we heard this made the trail very slippery, but we took the first sunny day and a break in our schedule to give it a go. My husband and I along with the 9 stairstep kids ranging in ages from 12 to 1 set out on the trail, which did prove to be steep and slick. I had a 20 pound baby on my back which I’m sure made it more difficult! I only slipped and fell in the mud once. We made it up about 1 mile (the longest mile ever, took 1 hour and 35 minutes); which rose 1,643 feet in that mile. At the first rest point, a picnic bench, we decided to go back down. I was feeling a blister coming on to my heel from the steepness of the hike and didn’t want to regret going further. So, we ran, slid (literally some of the little kids slid in the sloppy mud on their bottoms down the trail), fell one more time and made it down. Next time we attempt the summit of Lazy Mountain we’ll do it when it’s dry.

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