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Grinnell Glacier Hike

$425.00
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Grinnell Glacier

Personalized Educational Outings

A trail of astounding proportions, the Grinnell Glacier hikes through the Cataract Creek Valley, hugging the shoreline of sparkling lakes as it climbs through the strata of Precambrian Belt Rock. The ocher and brick-red hues contrast with the cerulean shimmer of Lower Grinnell Lake as you step through a terrace sprayed by waterfalls, slopes afire with the white-hot stalks of beargrass, and, hopefully, gaze upon a moose munching on sedge and willow in the marshy creek bottoms. Glaciers abound at the summit of the trail, a fraternity of icy expanse that belies the long-term effects of climate change on these and other glaciers throughout the park. In 1850, Glacier Park contained 150 glaciers--today there are only 25!! We’ll explore these disappearing giants, their glacial impressions scoured into rock, and the palette of colors that animate this strenuous but rewarding ascent.

Meeting Time:  7:00 AM

Finishing Time: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM (depending on pace of group)

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map)

Food: Please bring a sack lunch, trail snacks, and at least one liter of water.

Equipment: Be prepared for any kind of weather including snow. Bring rain gear, warm jacket or pullover, gloves, a hat, and comfortable hiking shoes. It can be cold, so plan on having lots of layers of warm clothes to add and shed as necessary. Binoculars are useful, but optional.

Physical Requirements:  Strenuous / Distance (roundtrip): 9.8 miles / Total elevation gain: 2,286 ft.

Transportation during course:  We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Weather: This outing will not be canceled due to weather.

Tentative Itinerary:

7:00 AM: Meet at Glacier Institute Field Camp   

7:00 AM -7:30 AM: After we make our introductions, we will have an overview of the day’s itinerary followed by a brief training in bear safety procedures, Leave No Trace Ethics, and trail etiquette. 

7:30 AM - 9:15 AM: Drive to the trailhead along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road (depending on road status) or Highway 2.

9:30 AM - 12:30 PM: We will start the day with a discussion on moose and bear ecology.  Moving out of the marshy bottoms we’ll begin our rise above the alpine lakes, distinguishing the physical and chemical processes creating the wide assortment of colors in the rocks and waters.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM: Lunch! Our hard work will be rewarded with amazing panoramic views of Grinnell and Gem Glaciers.  Over lunch, we will take a close look at climate change, and how it affects flora and fauna in Glacier National Park, and identify the dynamics wrought by the dramatic change in Grinnell Glacier over the past couple centuries and continuing today.

1:30 PM - 4:00 PM: On our descent, we’ll practice our plant identification skills and describe the various research methods used in the park to measure our last remaining glaciers.

4:00 PM - 5:45 PM: Return to the Glacier Institute Field Camp, stopping for any photo ops or wildlife sightings (where it is safe to do so).

5:45 PM - 6:00 PM: Course wrap-up, Q&A, course evaluations.