Loving the View from Apgar Lookout

On our first full day in Glacier National Park, of course we tackled a challenging hike. Apgar Lookout trail is the first trail within the West Glacier entrance to the Park. Traveling by car, you drive almost two and a half miles from the turnoff before reaching the trailhead. The trail itself starts deceptively easy through beautiful meadows and forests. However, it soon becomes a challenging 3.3 mile assent of about 1850 feet, much of it through an area deforested by a fire in 2003. Many, many new five to seven foot pine trees jockey for their chance to dominate the forest, but provide no protection from the hot afternoon sun. On the positive side, the lack of dense forest cover has allowed a splendid array of colorful wildflowers to thrive. After traversing several switchbacks with many stops for these flatlanders to catch their breath and rehydrate, the lookout point (which we were repeatedly told by hikers on their way down was just 30 minutes farther) was well worth the effort. Below in the valley lies Lake McDonald – a nine mile long, one and a half mile wide beautiful blue body of water with forests carpeting the steep surrounding mountain sides down to the water’s edge. A turquoise cast to the water comes from the fine particulates the glaciers pick up as they pass through the mountains. As the snow melts each spring, the runoff carries the particulates to the streams and lakes; the sediment is so fine it is suspended in the water and reflects light in a manner that produces the turquoise color. This trek to and from Apgar Lookout is about a four-hour challenge, but rich in color with a breathtaking view of Lake McDonald.

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