As of late I have been swamped with work; so much so that my head is spinning. I could not remember the last time I took a day off. Alas, I got a late night text from a friend Saturday inviting me for a Sunday hike, I could not refuse! Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes.
Around here you need to hike in groups. Yes, the terrain can be pretty horrific.
But it’s the bears you need to worry about. We not only have black and brown bears but we also have grizzlies! You always hike in groups of three or more.
Still, it’s no guarantee that the Grizz’s will leave you alone. Trust me, I have seen plenty.
Last summer we were hiking the east side of Glacier near Saint Mary’s lake. Now if you have never hiked Glacier, the St. Mary’s lake area is a “must see”. There is even a historic St. Mary Lodge and Resort with 115 rooms and rustic cabins. Their accommodations are amazing.The resort also has a large boat that floats up the river alongside the trail. A magnificent ride and journey for all ages.
Anyway, that day we had a huge silver tip Grizzly come charging down the trail. There was no way off the trail, a steep cliff on one side and a 500 or so foot drop to the river on the other.
Thank goodness we did not have much of a run before we found a clearing to get off the trail. And trust me, we ran like no tomorrow! Anyway, hiking with several people makes more noise with will generally keep the wildlife at a distance.
Mount Aeneas is located in the Jewel Basin. And Jewel Basin is well named for its jewel features; crystal clear waters, numerous rock formations, emerald colored lakes, and many basins that stretch for miles. Jewel Basin is home to 27 lakes, countless streams and an abundance of wildlife.
The hike to Mount Aeneas takes about 4 hours and is rated strenuous. But compared to Glacier National Park Standards this is an easy class 1/2 hike. FYI Glacier has many summits that are well over 7,500 feet. In fact, the highest mountain is 10,479 ft. (Mt. Cleveland).
Mount Aeneas is a class one/two hike on the trail to the summit. The last 1/2 mile is along the ridge top and offers spectacular views on both sides.
On a clear day it’s possible to see the numerous lakes and the intertwined river system that feeds Flathead Lake. You also have a great view of the jagged peaks of Glacier, the countless peaks of the Swan Range and the Mission Range that encompasses great historic beauty such as Belt Rock (sedimentary rocks formed 1.47 and 1.4 billion years ago). FYI Flathead Lake is the largest natural body of water west of the Mississippi.
Our hike went very well. The weather was perfect, around 80°. All three of us had not hiked all summer, so our pace was pretty much in unison. My friend Lisa brought her Chihuahua. Little Joey is a trooper. I must say, it has to be a challenge to hike with such small legs and a big body.
The only scary part of the hike is when we came across a mother goat and her baby. Joey decided to protect us by running towards the goats and bark loudly. Thankfully we caught him in time. Goats are not reluctant to attack and can cause a lot of damage. And with a mother and its baby, I doubt Joey would have survived if he had got any closer.
My fellow hiker told me of a similar instance where a friends terrier went after a goat. The dog was pretty marred with the skin ripped clear to the bones. The terrier survived but it took 3-4 months before the wound healed.
FYI – Dogs are not allowed in Glacier Park. Mount Aeneas is one of the few trails you can bring your dog. However, leashes are usually required. And since dogs are allowed on Mount Aeneas, it is popular hiking trail. But, even on a busy day, Mount Aeneas is still uncrowded. You will meet and greet people on the trail but you pretty much have complete privacy.
When to Hike Mount Aeneas
Peak season is generally in July and August during the weekends. High lakes may still carry ice and trails can be snow covered any earlier than July. During the winter, use of the Jewel Basin is limited.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention the vast wildflowers that were alongside the trail. We definitely timed the hike perfectly. With the recent rains in the mountains, everything was so green! And of course the cool showers stimulated an abundance of growth. Wildflowers were everywhere. e.g. Indian paintbrush, purple asters, drooping bluebells, alpine daisies and more
There were even both types of wild huckleberries (the small and large species). Although the larger huckleberries were not yet ripe, it was such a treat to stop and refresh our body with the tiny and delicious edibles.
Here are a few more pics of the spectacular sites.