This morning we found ourselves back in Many Glacier, this time parked across the street from a campground at the trailhead for Iceberg Lake. After parking we laced up the boots and shouldered packs with provisions for another walk in the park, do to the popularity of the trailhead we were forced to walk a road a quarter mile to the actual signed trailhead where we picked up the true trail.
Right off the bat we began our climb over man made steps of rock below the open sun and the rising morning heat. We took our time during the climb to conserve energy, and eventually reached a point where the trail eased up a bit and began a course west, high above the Wilbur Creek drainage in the direction of its source. The views from the trail increased with every step and before long we were treated with a magnificent panoramic view including the Ptarmigan Wall, Swiftcurrent Mountain, Mount Wilbur, Mount Grinnell, and Allen Mountain. We rambled along in good conversation as the trail swung to the north entering a dense forest. We felt good and were making good time. Being stuck in the trees I was able to relax a bit and get into a groove from the lack of photo ops along the way, and the shade was a welcome relief from the sun’s heat. Eventually we could make out the faint sound of falling water and before long found ourselves near the top of Ptarmigan Falls. We figured this was the perfect place to take our first break, and at 2.7 miles back we were already more than halfway to Iceberg Lake. After finding some shade we dropped our packs for a quick snack and a drink.
I made my way over to the cool waters just below the bridge over Ptarmigan Creek to cool my face and bandanna. The ground squirrels were quick to find us, always scrounging for any morsel that falls their way, or for that matter an opportunity to be fed by hand. They were quite entertaining to watch as they darted here and there testing their limit for how close they could get to us, often scrambling right onto our packs to get a bite. Though harmless, my wife struggled with this a bit which I most definitely found amusing. We lingered here taking in the narrow forested canyon, unfortunately an unobstructed view of the falls is impossible but one can stand at the head of the falls and lean out a bit to get an idea of the drop, just don’t lean too far, I watched a man stumble here. After our break we were back on the boots heading down the forested path.
Before long the trees began to thin and eventually views down the trail began to open up displaying a magnificent cirque that included the Ptarmigan Wall, Iceberg Peak, and Mount Wilbur. The sun was hot but the gentle grade made the going easy. We rambled on taking in the ever expanding views as they continued to open up especially back down Iceberg Creek toward the Many Glacier area. We soon reached a creek crossing on a sturdy bridge and entered an open forest where a couple of friendly hikers shared their binoculars to show us a moose who was grazing in a hanging meadow below the steep Ptarmigan Wall, what a find! After thanking the hikers we went our separate ways and shortly after reached a spectacular view of an emerald tarn surrounded by lush meadows, rocky outcroppings, and a magnificent display of wildflowers. We took our time here taking in the views, I could see why a moose would call this place home, what better place on God’s green earth! Beyond the tarn we climbed a little to a saddle before catching our first view of Iceberg Lake, an unbelievable site.
I took some time to photograph the lake through the trees before we made our way down to the shore. Robin and I found a nice place to enjoy lunch away from the other hikers. Iceberg Lake is nestled in a cirque of towering spires of rock that seem to reach the heavens. God has done his handy work here as the setting is truly stunning, I could have spent the rest of my life on that rock taking in that view. Few places come to mind that I have seen with my own eye that could rival the beauty of Iceberg Lake. The suns rays danced on the turquoise waters as we watched the icebergs roam along the the surface of the high mountain lake. We ate lunch, talked, smiled and laughed, it was nice being husband and wife again. As much as we love and missed our children Jameson and Kylie, it was nice to reconnect. It is a welcome break when the only task of the day was to put one foot in front of the other. After lunch we decided to explore a little more around the lake before leaving, I could tell Robin was really enjoying herself as she explored the nooks and crannies along the lake shore. Finally it was time for us to go and back on the trail we made good time getting out.
The Reynolds Creek fire in the St. Mary area was having a bit of a blowup since we had begun our hike as we could now make out a giant plume of smoke coming up over the ridge behind Many Glacier. We stopped one last time at Ptarmigan Falls before making the final jaunt out. Back in civilization we were able to find a couple of beers and a bench with a mountain view at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, and after a couple of cheers and conversation with some folks from England, Australia, and Holland we were on our way back to camp. Iceberg Lake is an amazing experience, we hiked about 9.5 miles and over 1,800 feet in elevation gain. For more pictures click the link. Iceberg Lake Hike