Another early day on the road for the campers. Feeling compelled to get to the trail early and take advantage of the cool mornings was the objective. Our nights have been late, so the challenge is this: the sun doesn't set until after 10:00pm and then we have been staying up way past that time. We are no longer young pups and all of us like a full night's sleep. And, we are in Glacier, we are all driven and we love a good challenge-so off we go.
Our hike today is to Snyder Lake. And, here is our Trail Description:
The hike to Snyder Lake begins from the Sperry Trailhead, located across the street from the Lake McDonald Lodge. In a very short distance, after passing the horse path, the trail becomes known as the Gunsight Pass Trail.
Almost immediately the trail begins climbing, passing through an old growth forest of red cedar, western larch and hemlock in the lower elevations, to a dense spruce-fir forest as it ascends higher. We had already climbed more than 900 feet before reaching the Mt. Brown Trail junction, roughly 1.6 miles from the trailhead. Hikers and horses share this heavily used segment of the trail as they head up to the Sperry Chalet and other points in the area. You pass through fields of wildflowers, and cross some streams which are running off from the heavy winter snows.
After gaining another 1,000 feet over the course of the next 2.5 miles, the trail tops out at nearly 5,250 feet before making a short descent down to the lake.
Snyder Lake lies in a basin surrounded by Mt. Brown towards the north and Edwards Mountain towards the south. Little Matterhorn, towards the northeast, is the mountain that we could see directly ahead of us as we arrived at the foot of the lake. Beautiful. The waterfalls cascading down the cliff walls surrounding the lake were amazing.
The lake and the creek are both named after George Snyder, who built a framed hotel in 1895 on the present day site of the Lake McDonald Lodge. During that same year Snyder built a road from the new railroad depot at Belton (now West Glacier) to the small village of Apgar. The road would allow him to transport the 40-foot steamboat that he had just purchased to Lake McDonald. The road would also allow visitors arriving by railroad to travel to Apgar, board his steamboat, and then sail the eight miles up the lake to his hotel, known as the "Glacier Hotel".
(A doe we met coming towards us on the trail)
After hiking through a very dense forest of trees and healthy brush we came out to this view. We kept thinking the whole way up the trail we might see a bear-it was a good feeding area for bears. Up to this point no bears were seen-stay tuned.
This was our lunch spot. Once we reached the lake we went all the way around the lake (after receiving a tip from a couple we met on their way down). We had lunch on the rocks, listening to the waterfalls from high atop the surrounding mountains. It was lovely, peaceful and still no bears.
We were hiking as a group of 6 and one of our fellow campers decided, after reaching the lake, to start heading back down and wait for us at a rock clearing. She reached the rock clearing without one of the radios we were carrying (big no-no for any groups hiking together) and saw a bear. It was above her on the rock clearing, and it was a black bear. She had just passed a group having lunch so she carefully backed up, met up with the group and waited together for the rest of us. A good lesson to never be without a group or way to communicate with your group.
On our way down the trail we met "Buck" – we called him our trail guide. He just walked along the trail, eating his way down. I bet he was in front of us for 25 minutes so he would walk and then stop and eat, so we would walk and stop, walk and stop. He was way more interested in all the food sources than us. Snyder Lake Trail is something I would recommend for a day hike. And, if you get to Glacier and can do an overnight on the mountain check out Sperry Chalet. On our list for the next visit.
Later that night after arriving back at camp, we started dinner with the rain pouring down. Tonight was Cathy and Foster's dinner and it was yummy. Here is menu for this night:
- Gazapacho (Homemade)
- Salad with Steak and a beautiful Sherry Vinegar dressing
This was an amazing dinner, given it was pouring rain outside and we all hunkered down in our Airstream. It was the first time we had a dinner party for 6 inside. It was actually really cozy and all the team kicked in and we cleaned up in a flash.