Hiking the Glacier Crest Trail
On a Friday afternoon, we walked into the tourist information center of Glacier National Park. The lady behind the counter, asked us whether we wanted a light, moderate or extreme hike. 'Well, we are used to hiking long distances, so what can you recommend?' She explained that the Glacier Crest Trail would be the perfect trail. There has been no bear sightings for a number of days, so it is a relatively safe hike. Moreover, the views are one of the best in the park, according to her.
The next day, we parked our RV and walked towards the trail head. A local guy, about to start the Great Glacier Trail-hike, explained that this hike would provide beautiful views and seeing the mouth of the glacier would just be awesome. 'By the way, which hike are you going to do?' he asked. 'The Glacier Crest Trail'. 'Oh, wow... I am not able to go there anymore because of my knees. But that one is absolutely breathtaking. It is probably the best hike in this park!' Hmm..., we didn't knew if we were happy hearing that or not.
Seconds later, we started our hike. The first meters were easy: a flat path lead us through the forest. After crossing a stream, the path started to climb.
First steady, but soon it was a pretty steep climb. When we passed the tree line, the path leveled out for a second but continued even more steep. Yet, without a clear path, as we had to negotiate a large boulder field. While scrambling over some huge boulders, we knew we were getting close to the top. The last meters, the path levels out again so that you already get the opportunity to enjoy the views.
You have clear sight on the glacier (which you can actually touch). When we arrived at the top, we could see the Illecillewaet Glacier in the east, the Asulkan Glacier in the west and the valley in the middle, surrounded by various 2.500 meter high mountains. What a great view. By the way, we say we arrived at the top but actually, the summit of the mountain is way further, but cannot be accesses without proper climbing equipment.
As there is no other path up this mountain, we had to follow the same route as we came up. Normally, descending is much faster than ascending. However, in this case, with the huge boulder field we had to cross, descending took nearly as much time as ascending. But once we had crossed the boulder field, we were able to make some good speed. In total, we hiked for about six hours. When we arrived at our RV, we first lay down to give our feet some well deserved rest. However, we still had to drive back to our campsite near Revelstoke, a ride of about one hour.