As I’m driving back to the main entrance of the park, I have a major craving for a juicy burger and cold beer, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I get out of the car, take off my hiking shoes and socks in exchange for flip flops (best feeling ever), which is when I realize my foot is getting pretty swollen and it hurts like hell. I start walking (limping) to the restaurant but catch a whiff of a foul odor that didn’t take long to understand it’s coming from me; so I walk back to the car to lather on some deodorant, before heading to the restaurant.
The weather is a perfect 75 and sunny with clear skies, so I opt for a table outside and enjoy a very much needed Bison burger, heap of fries and an ice cold beer from Big Sky Brewing. I’m moving very slowly but I literally have nowhere to be, so I continue to relax, people watch, and take in the view of Lake McDonald. As I’m scanning the people, I see another backpacker who is with a friend and I can tell they just got done with their trek. We make eye contact and I’m assuming he could tell I was in the same spot, as he gives me an unspoken nod, which I return.
During the last two days on the trail, a thought that randomly popped in my mind more times than I care to admit, is that I really want an ice cream cone. I have a huge sweet tooth so it’s nothing out of the ordinary but, 'dammit, I earned it,' I thought as I get up from my table and proceed to head to the ice cream shop next door. Throughout Montana and Wyoming there is ‘huckleberry’ EVERYWHERE. Food, drinks, hot sauce, syrup, and just about anything else you could imagine, they have a huckleberry variation. 'The huckleberry salesman must be killing it around here,' I jokingly thought to myself as I stand in line. No surprise, there is a huckleberry ice cream flavor, so I feel it’s only right to order that. Very satisfied with the choice.
I still have quite a bit of daylight left and although my legs are barely functioning, I really want to see another classic Glacier Park view, so I make the decision to drive to Avalanche Lake, which I read about prior to the trip. As I’m driving to the trailhead, I make a quick stop at the famous, Lake McDonald Lodge. Built in 1913 and modeled after a large-scale Swiss chalet, this beautiful lodge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 (thanks Wikipedia.) As I limp down to the water, I get some looks from the well put-together tourists, who are probably thinking that this guy is clearly not staying at this high class establishment.
I notice there are some storm clouds forming but I think it makes for a pretty cool backdrop, and when you combine that with a huge ten-mile long lake and awesome looking peaks, it reminds me of Jurassic Park. I may or may not have hummed the theme song out loud as I pulled out my camera to capture the scene.