Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tips on Navigating Glacier National Park

tips on navigation Glacier National park Hiking Kids family NPS summer vacation travel wanderlust
Welcome back my Beauties!
As you know we do a family hiking trip every summer.
It generally takes me about a year to get my thoughts together on the past trip before I can put it into a post.
Adding to that was taking care of my Mom as soon as we got home from this trip and then losing her shortly after.
But things are starting to settle back into a sort of normal and we are packing for our next hiking trip to Utah,
so I thought now would finally be a good time to post some tips on Navigating Glacier National Park.
You may remember the year before that I did a post on 
national park shuttle service island explorer hiking kids summer vacation travel wanderlus
This post is a sponsored post or  uses affiliate links to help you find the products I trust and love
We have been a hiking family since my oldest was just a baby when we spent year after year at Rocky Mountain National Park and many of the other Local Colorado hiking trails. 
As the kids have gotten older and have they now have the strength and stamina our hiking trips have gotten bigger and better.
Instead of the bit of grumbling they used to do at the thought of hiking in the mornings and asking why we couldn't just "go to a mall" like other families; they have now started asking
"where do we get to go this year"
In the struggle of parenting it's a nice little "WIN" in my mind :)
So now onto my TIPS on Navigating Glacier National Park.
glacier national park going the sun road bussing shuttle service family hiking trip summer vacation
Tip #1.......
If they have a shuttle system; USE the shuttle system.
This is a big pet peeve of mine in the national parks.
If you truly love the parks and want to preserve the BEAUTY of the park, use the shuttle.
Now I get it; people are impatient.
They don't want to WAIT for the bus, and the time it takes to pick everyone up.
I really do GET IT...I am one the most impatient people EVER.
BUT,  I LOVE my national parks, and I know a bit of WAITING isn't gonna kill me.
It helps preserve something that I love.
I can't tell you how heartbreaking it is to watch cars and big ole diesel trucks driving a two hour drive up to the top of the mountain with minimal parking only to have to DRIVE back down and waste all that gas to PARK down at the base and take the shuttle up. 

Now I know I am on my soap box, but this smiling face is WHO I want to save the parks for. 
I want him and all my children to be able to bring their kids to these parks and have them still be here. 
A tiny bit of inconvenience can save the park for years to come.
Plus when you are DOG tired from hiking all day, knowing you can sleep on the bus on the way back down is so awesome.
riding the shuttle going the sun road glacier national park montana kids family hiking summer vacation trip
I mean, I look over on the bus and I get to capture this moment with my husband and daughter after hiking all day.
I wouldn't have gotten that if he was making the 2 hour drive down the mountain. (mostly because I would have been nervously watching him navigate the treacherous cliff edges and narrow roads)
Instead we leave it to the awesome bus drivers who are mostly School bus drivers and retired Logging truckers.
Both of whom navigate these roads EVERY SINGLE DAY!
danger all area beyond this sign closed due to bear danger signs navigating glacier national park family hiking trip
Tip #2....

and Tip #3....BEAR SPRAY! 

We got to Glacier 1 week after a man had been killed by a bear.
I am not doing this to scare you, but you NEED a healthy FEAR of the bears.
This is their HOME and they will protect it.
While we were hiking to hidden lake we watched an adult FATHER and his son, step over this sign in front of the ranger and continue up into the active BEAR area.
I looked at the ranger and he just said, I told them not to, the sign is there, If they don't have the brains to obey, then there is nothing I can do. 
There is so much BEAUTY in the park to see without having to put your CHILD in direct danger.
We had Bear spray but luckily never needed it.
One of the things about bears is that if they HEAR you generally they will go the other direction.
We had our 4 kids with us who have no problem being LOUD and singing the whole time on the trail. 
Most likely any bear around us would have been plugging their ears and running the opposite direction. 
But we did run into another family on the shuttle (you get to meet lots of people who enjoy the same place as you on the shuttle as well) who actually ran into a bear on the trail. 
For some reason there kids were being quiet and they didn't have bear spray. (you can RENT it in the park..something I think they finally decided would have been a good idea after the fact) 
They stood on the trail and stood absolutely still letting the bear know they were not a threat. They said the bear "barked" at them a couple times and walked away.
Like I said before, I am not telling you this to scare you, it's so you will be proactive and know how to avoid being in this situation so you can enjoy the beauty around you.

molting mountain goats glacier national park hidden lake trail montana family hiking trip summer vacation

big horn sheep glacier national park montana family hiking trip summer vacation kids wanderlust wildlife nature outdoors
You can see Plenty of wildlife right smack dab in front of you WITHOUT putting yourself in danger.
The mountain goats and Big Horn sheep were out in full force while we were there. We had to wait about 25 minutes on the trail while we waited for this herd to move along.
(Like I said before, patience and knowing that this is THEIR home is key in the national parks) 
I got so many amazing pictures while I was waiting I kind of wanted to thank them for taking their sweet sweet time on the only path on Highline trail.
Once they moved on we could continue on with our Highline Hike trail.
highline trail, glacier national park montana family vacation hiking trip kids outdoors mountains wildlife beauty
Tip #4 Proper Gear.
the saddle highline trail glacier national park family hiking trip outdoors mountains beauty nature
Hiking in Montana can be easy and it can be hard. You have elevation changes, landscape changes and weather changes.
Having the proper gear is one way to make sure you ENJOY your hikes.
As you can see from these two pictures there is two different types of terrain.
We went from Rocky to Snow packed a couple different times. 
Having good hiking boots or shoes is key.
I can't tell you how many people I saw trying to navigate the snow pack in Cowboy boots or a pair of chaco sandals with no socks.
The man in the cowboy boots couldn't stay upright and the girl in the chaco sandals couldn't continue on with most of her hike because her feet were freezing in the snow. 
I myself have tried quite a few over the years and my favorite is the  Salomon Ellipse hiking shoe
It has lasted me 3 hiking seasons in 3 different kinds of terrain.
salomon ellipse hiking shoe womens affiliate

My husband loves his Merrells and they have lasted him just as many if not more.

Mens merrells hiking shoe

I have one daughter who has to have a hiking boot because she has weak ankles but all the rest wear some brand of hiking shoe as well.
For the money they have served us well.
One of the things no one really tells you that I tell new hikers is you kick your TOES.....A lot!!
You are walking around and bam...rock sticking up you smack your toe. If you had a regular tennis shoe on you run the risk of hurting your toes badly or worse breaking a toe. 
So even if you can find a cheap hiking shoe, I suggest that over a tennis shoe; or cowboy boots LOL!
Also you will need LAYERS.
For this hike on Hidden Lake we started out at the base in t-shirts but by the time we reached the trail head and higher elevation we had to pull out sweatshirts and jackets.
You don't need some fancy name brand and easily layering clothing is fine. You will want a sort of a WIND BREAKER for the WIND...hence the name. Because they are easy to pack up and take up little space when you get warm and need to remove them. 
Hats for the sun since again you are at a higher elevation and its easier to get sun burn.
and LOTS and LOTS of water.
We have a water pack for each person.
Again it doesn't have to be expensive.
My husband and I both have camelbacks that we have had forever but the kids just have some random ones that I find on sale over the year. 
You can get these High Sierra hydration packs at Costco normally under 20 bucks.

One of the biggest dangers in hiking isn't bears; its dehydration.
People forget to drink water all the time!
I don't know how many families we have run into where the kid is crying and screaming at some small summit and they can't figure out what is wrong and we ask them if they have been drinking any water and they say NO.
Despite the fact that sweating isn’t as obvious in the winter or in dry climates, hydration can be more important in the colder months than the warmer months. Cold, dry air strips the water from our bodies faster than warm humid air, necessitating the consumption of more water during a winter hike. Keep your tightly-sealed water bottle inside your coat to help keep the water from freezing.
Dehydration Symptoms
One of the earliest symptoms of dehydration is one that is the most often overlooked: a headache. If ignored, the victim is subject to temperature related illnesses such as heat stroke and hypothermia. Dehydration can cause hikers to become confused and disoriented. 

Tip #5....
Take breaks. :)
Having kids hiking with you means you move a little slower, and that their little legs have to keep up.
So when you reach a nice resting spot, give them a break (or in this case your husband)
After a few hours of ascent it's nice to find a nice rock to lounge on.
Some of my fondest memories I have are stopping to have lunch or a snack on the trail.
(please bag your trash and bring it down with you to properly dispose of it, no one wants to see a dorito bag laying in their beautiful pictures) 
We tend to be a purpose driven society and hiking can help you realize that sometimes the journey is the destination.
We had plans to make it to the full summit on this hike, but with 3 hours under our belts and knowing that we had another 2.5 hours to get back down (you go faster downhill) :)
We decided not to push the kids any further than the saddle. 
I may have missed my chance a few more beautiful pictures but believe me I got PLENTY on all our hikes.
snowball fight highline trail glacier national park montana kids family summer vacation hiking trip mountains beauty nature outdoors
And the last Tip I am going to leave you with today;
Tip #6
Here you can see the kids having a snowball fight on the highline trail. 
It's the middle of the summer and they loved being able to have a good ole fashioned snowball fight out in the mountains.
Now I hope I didn't sound to harsh in the beginning, but I LOVE my National Parks and hate the thought of them not being around for my grandkids and future generations.
So with that I will just leave you with some BEAUTIFUL pictures to show you WHY I love the national parks so much and especially Glacier National Park.
avalanche lake hike trail of cedars glacier national park montana family hiking trip outdoors mountains nature beauty
Hiking the Trail of Cedars to Avalanche Lake
Glacier National Park
owing the rope line on highline trail glacier national park montana family hiking trip outdoors mountains nature beauty
Heading back from Highline Trail.
Hidden Lake viewing point Glacier national park logans pass montana hiking family Roadtrip vacation outdoors nature beauty mountains
Enjoying the overlook of Hidden Lake trail
(We had to change our hiking plans the next day because of bear activity and this trail was closed)
Avalanche Gorge (Trail of the Cedars) - Glacier Park, Montana HIKING KIDS FAMILY VACATION
Avalanche Gorge (Trail of the Cedars)

WATERFALL on the hikes to st marys falls and virginia falls glacier national park hiking vacation kids family summer montana mountains beauty nature outdoors

Enjoying the many waterfalls on our way to Virginia Falls and St. Marys Falls and Baring Falls.
I have a billion gazillion pictures so I won't fill this post up with any more.
BUT, we head to Utah in a few weeks and if you want to see the pictures as they happen you can follow me on 


I hope you enjoyed this photo heavy post. 
It has been on my mind a lot lately to write it up.
Finding the time has been difficult, but I know that even if no one reads it, I have it forever in digital form to look back at 
and remember all the fun we had as a family on our hiking trips.
I hope it has inspired you to go out and 
make your day BEAUTIFUL!