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13-Jun-10 – GNP – Day 2

As is the norm for me, the first night camping yields poor sleep. I got up around 0700 and prepped breakfast: oatmeal, banana and apple. I waited for Brian to wake up before starting in on making the coffee as I had not used a percolator before. Yeah, yeah. I know. Stone cold simple to use. Now I know. Hearty breakfast and we were off. First stop, find the camp store.

Turns out, a 15 yard trail out of the back of our site was the park road. The camp store was about 10 yards up that road. It doesn’t get more convenient than that. We borrowed a wheelbarrow and hauled a bunch of firewood back to the site. The camp store is part of the motor lodge and had a small camping gear section, minimal groceries and of course, tons of GNP paraphernalia (hats, shirts, bags, knick knacks, jackets, etc.)

As the morning was slipping away and we had things to do, we hopped in the Terrain and left the park in search of The Tubes. See, today was Brian’s daughter’s birthday and a video chat had to be made. We, however, didn’t realize the challenge involved. After asking around, we found that the place that the Park employees used for Internet was a small lodge about 20 miles away. We set out for Duck Lake Lodge with laptop at the ready. After a number of miles down a dirt road, Duck Lack Lodge presented itself. It was reminiscent of a cleaner version of a five room Lake Talquin fish camp. The people were super friendly, but alas, their Internet was down. For those that are going to give me grief, yes, I did root their router; they were off the grid. Luckily the proprietor let Brian use their house phone to make a collect call home and he was able to talk to Sammie for a few minutes while she opened his gift to her.

We had decided to stay at Many Glacier, rather than pick new campgrounds each night, as it was a centrally located area and had all the amenities that we needed (phones, store, and lodge). The only thing that was lacking were showers. Turns out that we were there before ‘high season’, but the coin operated showers were slated to open on Tuesday the 15th. They would certainly be welcome.

Mother Nature was not looking kindly on us for the next few days. Rain was forecast from Tuesday through Thursday. We decided that we would move from our current campsite to the one next door as it offered better drainage. Must have been a funny sight. Two guys un-staking their tents and carrying them, assembled, over bushes and such from one site to another.

Once the ‘migration’ was done, we went to the ranger station and met who was to become our information guru over the next few days: Ken West. While Ken doesn’t have a cheery, outgoing, customer service type of personality, he is a wealth of knowledge and we relied on his words for our movements heavily. Ken told us about the Grinnell Glacier Trail and we were sold. Back at the campsite we ate tuna sandwiches, watched a mom and girl setup camp across from us, packed our daypacks, strapped on bear spray and left for the trail.

Grinnell Glacier trail was about a 10 mile, round trip, trail with the routing that we took. We took it as far as possible; unfortunately the last mile of the trail required crampons and ice axes, neither of which we had. There were two approach trails to get to our trail – the first wound around Swiftcurrent Lake, the second ran along the bank of Lake Josephine. Both were pretty as the lakes are nestled inside 3000ft (relative) peaks. Along the second trail we heard people that were walking along a parallel trail yelling at a bear to try to get it to vacate the trail and let them pass. Next we heard them yelling that the bear was following them (let me clarify – it as not following in a threatening manner – just idling along). Finally the trail was clear and we all continued. The Grinnell trail departed the level trails of the lakes and rose about 1200 feet in the last 2.5 miles. Pictures of the views along the trail pale in comparison to the memories of the hike.

At the end of the navigable trail, we had a snack of granola bars amongst a small herd (8 or so) of big horned sheep and of course, the ever present, unabashed squirrels. The return hike was uneventful. We chose a different route for part of it that took us into dense woods on the south side of Lake Josephine. We both were obviously getting weary along the way back and were thrilled to finally spot the parking lot.

Once back in the campground we wandered next door to visit. We made friends of two ladies in our neighboring site and chatted a bit about what we all wanted to do in the park. Tina and Zuko were from NYC (Brooklyn) and both appeared fit and athletic. During our stay they engaged in hiking, like us, as well as kayaking on the almost frozen waters, unlike us. They shared their beers and we swapped stories of camping and life.

Back at our campsite, we decided to celebrate our hike by cooking a couple of NY strip steaks over the fire. Accompanied by potatoes, carrots and onions all wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals, the mediocre steaks tasted great thanks to our appetite after the day’s events.

After dinner we introduced ourselves to some newcomers in the site across the street from ours. Nina and Jelina were a mother-daughter team. Nina is a middle school math teacher who also does ESOL. Jelina is her eight year old daughter who specializes in being well mannered and thoughtful. They are camping their way from Phoenix, AZ to Redmond, OR and then back via a different route; a big loop. What a great experience for them to have. My memories of my camping trip through Alaska still ring fresh and I hope these will do the same for Jelina. The ladies hung around our site for an hour or two and chatted before calling it a night.

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