Swiftcurrent Pass (Glacier National Park) 25-Aug-2013

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana

This was another of our sort’a bi-annual visits to this great park. This year we divided out time between Many Glacier Hotel on the east side and Lake McDonald Lodge on the west side, with the idea of doing some of the trails we’d missed before (or which had been closed due to bear activity). There were fires south near Missoula and the air was thick as we entered the park, but, thanks to a front that passed overnight, it was almost clear (there was still a faint red tinge in the air) by the next morning.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Sunrise on Grinnell Point and Swiftcurrent Lake

Today we had the go-ahead to hike up to Swiftcurrent Pass from Swiftcurrent Lake (13.2 miles roundtrip; 2,300 feet of elevation gain) – something we hadn’t been able to do in previous years because of foraging bears. But this year the bears were busy elsewhere so we were off early,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Mount Wilbur from the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

up the Swiftcurrent Valley,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Redrock Lake

and past Redrock Falls.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Redrock Falls

The trail is almost level until it reaches the head of the valley,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Along the Swiftcurrent Trail…
Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
And over the bridge

then it starts up the ridge to the right.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Bullhead Lake

We climbed several long switchbacks up into the sunlight,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Sunlight reaches the inner canyon

where, fortunately, The LovedOne has no fear of heights,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
On the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

given that this trail is a real cliff-clinger at the spot where she’s standing.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Where The LovedOne is standing (arrow)

But, from here, you do get a great view down the Swiftcurrent valley,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Swiftcurrent Valley

and of the Swiftcurrent Glacier below Mount Grinnell.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Swiftcurrent Glacier

From Swiftcurrent Pass,

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Wild hair at Swiftcurrent Pass

it’s possible to see west to Heavens Peak (8,987 feet) across the McDonald Creek Valley.

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Heavens Peak from Swiftcurrent Pass

It would have added two miles to the hike to go over and visit Glacier Park Chalet, so we opted to snack at the pass and head back from there – keeping the day a 13 miles or so. The hike back was enlivened by two moose who made us wait while they browsed their way across the trail at the head of the valley (didn’t see any bears this year).

Swiftcurrent Pass Glacier National Park Montana
Moose munch

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