September 5, 2011 – Birthday Monday dawned bright and clear – and warm, as it turns out. We began the day with a nice breakfast – the same omelet as yesterday, plus a “Glacier omelet” with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, black beans and cheddar cheese, along with some great Montana wheat toast and coffee. Proper fortification is essential when beginning a two hour trail ride. Unfortunately, our (or at least my) legs were not up to gracefully and properly getting onto a rather tall horse named Flop. The poor thing seemed used to people tugging on his saddle inappropriately, as well as having problems out of the saddle after the ride.
Nevertheless, the Cracker Flats trail ride was a lot of fun. We saw some elk from a distance, and had great views of the surrounding mountains. Tony’s horse, Stone, happened to like to eat many of the plants along the trail; Tony was fairly successful in training his horse, and they had an (uneasy) truce by the end of the ride.
After the trail ride we drove back to Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge to refill our water bottles, paused to watch a bear eating berries on the distant hillside, and then drove back to Many Glacier Lodge to hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail. Highlights of the trail included walking by the Josephine Lakes, having a bird’s-eye view of turquoise-colored Grinnell Lake, seeing one of the few remaining glaciers in the park, and watching three male big horned sheep grazing by the glacier. On the way back we spotted some common mergansers and common goldeneye in Swiftcurrent Lake. Both these birds were new sightings for us.
Dinner was a reprise of the buffalo bratwurst, and a hummus/veggie/feta sandwich; we also enjoyed another huckleberry cream soda and huckleberry-vanilla swirl ice cream.
Tonight ,our lodging is at the Apgar Motor Lodge on the other side of the park; we drove through Going to the Sun Road at sunset, and may have seen Harlequin Ducks in MacDonald Creek. We chased after them, but the poor light levels made identification difficult – hopefully we spot some more during the day!