The Last Mile

Ascend to Grinell Part Two


As we leave Grinnell Lake behind, clouds start to get thicker and wind stronger. The cold wind from the glacier is now starting to become obvious and signs of a storm are all over the place. The problem with these mountains is that they create their own weather. They are also so tall that you cannot see what is behind them. It could be sun, or it could be a storm. We can only climb and at this point we have been doing this for two hours straight and Emma has been sleeping for most of them.


From the Far to Near: Lake Shelburne, Lake Josephine, Lake Grinnell. We started at Josephine
Rest Stop
Rest Stop for Food and Drink
Alpine garden
Alpine Garden

This was the last stop before the pep talk to Mary. At this point she wanted to stay here. From here, you cannot yet see Grinnell Glacier but you have a pretty good view of Salamander.

What you don’t see here is the Terminal Moraine that stands as the last test Grinnell gives all those that wish to access the glacial lake and hanging valley that is home to these three glaciers. Having done a lot of research before this hike, I thought about that moraine all the way up here.

I thought about how it had been forming from Grinnell digging rocks around for about 300 years around the time the Europeans got around to visiting this continent. I though about how tall it really was from the photos…but it was much taller than I though once I saw it. If asked to climb it today, I would do it in just a few minutes. But after 3 hours of 40+ lbs of Emma and stuff on my back, and 6000 feet of altitude, and some cold and rain, I was really feeling the exhaustion. But we kept going…


The Three Gems at the End of World


It was worth it. Sure, we could have had 80 degrees and sun like the hikers on the day before had. We could have had a bit less weight on our backs, and we could have had some nice coffee shop at the top. But in many ways we appreciated the rough and pure nature of the place.  We got to see it like it was meant to and not the way most people wish it was.


It is not sunny or warm, or calm or full of palm trees. The water alone will kill you if you go in too deep. This is not a place for people and that is why it still exists in its natural state. The fact we are even here is exactly why it will not be here for long: people are not meant to be here if the world could sustain a place like this for long. This is why we came here for. Before it is gone.



The scale of the place is hard to grab on a camera. Each wall is about 1000 to 2000 feet tall and are a good half or more miles away. The waterfalls are 1000 feet tall and the glacier itself still quite far to the point that we couldn’t get near it and still make the return boat time.


Part One – Ascend to Grinell

Part Three – The Descend

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