It was six in the morning when I woke up in my cozy little lodge room. I quietly dressed so that I didn’t wake my sleeping travel companion. I went outside to check out the view and noticed it had begun to rain. I sat down and checked my phone for any messages and enjoyed the view of the surrounding mountains. As I sat there a beautiful rainbow appeared over one of the mountains. I sat thinking of the promise of the rainbow and all that it meant. I continued to linger and the rainbow was joined by another. To my enjoyment two beautiful rainbows appeared and I decide to wake my travel buddy. She came out and took in the wonderful scenery. We decided to get dressed and eat at the restaurant at the lodge. The night before we ate a wonderful dinner at the lodge and hoped breakfast would be just as good.
We made it to the restaurant just as it opened and we were seated. Our waiter came over and he was the same waiter from the previous day. This poor lad had to close and then open the next day; I felt sorry him, he had to be exhausted. I ordered the scrambler meal while my travel companion ordered eggs, toast, and sausage. The waiter asked of our plans so we replied, “we are headed to Many Glacier”. I had marked several places I wanted to venture to and my friend asked him what he recommended. All his recommendations were on our list. I was doing a mental check list, check, check, got it, we are good to go. I was even more amped to “get my hike on”.
We headed back to the room and grabbed our backpacks. My pack held all the necessities, cameras, lenses, water, and bear spray. We grabbed our rain jackets and we jumped in the small rental and headed out to Many Glacier. It wasn’t a long drive and the views were very dry on the way but the closer we got to Many Glacier the more lush and green everything became. We stopped on the way at the pretty hotel located at the train station. We ventured inside the train station to see where it was heading, Illinois, no thanks and walked out to the historic hotel. I asked my friend if this was where her friend’s son worked. She replied, “yes, we are at the Lodge where he works, lets see if he is here.” We headed over and sure enough he was there. She asked him for recommendations and he asked what we had planned. I told him where I wanted to go and he said those were the best places. Once again I confirmed my research was thorough and we were going to see all the sights the area had to offer.
We headed to our first stop Apikuni Falls, that was an adventure, but for another time. We continued on to Many Glacier Hotel where we took a boat across the lake to go hike around Swift Current and Josephine Lakes and then try to get up towards Grinnell Glacier. The boat ride over was quite a story.
First you board the boat then it takes you across one lake. The boat ride going across was rainy but we had packed our rain jackets and hoped the skies would clear. By the time we made it to the first stop the rain ended. The ride over was somewhat chilly and we both were wearing shorts. We unloaded the boat and then we headed across a trail that would take us to another boat loading spot. As we hiked across the short trail a small shaggy grizzly ran across our path about 20 feet in front of our group. We then made it to the boat and we loaded up. Everyone was on board and we were about to leave. There was a family sitting in front of us, no one immediately to our left and we had a young couple behind us. The rest of the boat was pretty full and people were in their seats getting their cameras out and ready for our short trip across this small lake.
I too decided that I should take out my working camera and lens (I had broken my telephoto lens earlier that same day.) So I reached under the wooden bench to pull up my backpack when all a sudden I heard a hissing sound. I looked at my bag then across the aisle from me then at my leg. My leg was covered with this brownish red gel like liquid. People behind be started gagging and I had realized my bear spray had hit the seat as I pulled my backpack up and it had gone off. I told the young workers and luckily we were still docked. They cleared the boat and said, “this happens all the time.” I felt terrible, I WAS THAT person. You know the irresponsible one that makes a huge mistake that could have been disastrous.
Luckily the spray only got my leg and the floor across from me where luckily no one was sitting. I watched as all the people were cleared off with coughing spells and fits. My eyes started filling with tears as I contemplated what I had done. A worker asked where the clip was and I explained that I dislodged it that morning when we had an encounter. I told him I had dropped the clip in the moment and hadn’t looked for it. I know, pack in pack out, but I had honestly forgotten all about the clip.
The workers mopped up the boat and asked how my leg was. I said, “it burns”. They gave me some blue cleaning liquid to try to get the bear spray residue off. I don’t know if it was Dawn soap but I think it was. I then rinsed my leg as best as I could in the icy water. We then loaded back on the boat and I apologized profusely to the passengers and thankfully they were very kind.
We continued across the lake and went to see a couple of water falls then attempted to hike to Grinnell Glacier. It began sleeting and snowing on us and the winds gusted by us. We trekked on sometimes crouching down as to keep from being blown off the narrow and slippery path. Our bare legs became numb and tingly and we zipped our jackets up tighter. We crawled one at time up the steep red and green colored rocks. We crossed small streams that ran down the path as we hiked up through them trying to maintain our footings. We ended up getting to the point where we could see Salamander Glacier and Grinnel Glacier just under its head. We decided with the sleet and snow and our chilly legs that we would head back down.
We made it back down to the dock and drained our water logged hiking shoes and wrung our our icy cold socks. Some people asked if we had gone on the loop trail to see the falls and we said we hadn’t. They said you don’t have time to get there now but you can make it to the swinging bridge and be back before the boat comes. We hurriedly hiked to the bridge and got some nice pictures of the rivers rocks in the water and then quickly headed back.
This had been quite the busy day and I was ready to sit back and relax on the boat. While on the boat the captain pointed out a mother grizzly and two cubs running across the top of the mountain as we approached Many Glacier Lodge. Then I pointed out a fisherman with a moose behind him. People on the boat told me that I have a knack for finding and spotting wildlife. They thanked me for pointing it out. I hoped that this would help them forget the bear spay incident. I was very happy to have spotted the moose. The fisherman saw all of us taking his picture and turned in shock to see the moose behind him.
We unloaded the boat thankful for the experience. I went to the hotel bathroom to try to get more of the spray off my leg and tried to make the burning stop. We then grabbed some dry clothes from our car and changed and got a delicious cup of hot chocolate! What a day! I know I will always remember the day as I’m sure those other passengers will as well, hopefully more fondly and without the guilt I have.