Scalplock Lookout 2017

Finding high points in Glacier National Park in early spring (especially with a high snow pack like 2017!) can be difficult. Scalplock Lookout is one of the great options to do this. It has a south facing slope and doesn’t get too high, so snow melts out earlier. Longing for a day in Glacier, we snuck up there this Saturday.

It has been a wet spring for us up here in Montana. With a high snowpack and a lot of rain, finding days to get out for hikes haven’t been easy. Even when you do get a decent day, much of the high country is still in the snow… and that’s where my heart lies. Thankfully, we got a break between two rainy days and snuck up to a nice spring hike that gets some elevation… Scalplock Lookout.

The first thing we noticed as we started out on the trail, other than the mud, was the lush forest peppered with loads of flowers. Particularly with Beargrass. While every year produces flowering plants, each individual plant doesn’t flower every year. This year, it seems like every plant is flowering. It is incredible! All along the trail, they stick up like lampposts and delight the eyes.

We crossed over the raging Ole Creek on the mat bridge and soon started gaining elevation. My quibble with this hike is the same quibble with other forested hikes that climb. The views are limited through the trees. One great thing about this hike is that the forest is pleasant and is great for flowers and birds which didn’t disappoint today. Tanagers, grosbeaks, thrushes, sparrows, and warblers were filling the air with their sweet songs.

The little pocket views of the gorgeous Middle Fork drainage had clouds obscuring the tops of the mountain ranges. After the switchbacks up to the last section, my favorite, we got more views, albeit more muted than I’ve seen in the past due to the aforementioned clouds. Along the ridgeline of the final approach, the clouds created a mystical environment which was lovely and we stepped over two or three little snow patches. It’s great to see the receding snow so we can get into the high country!

At the top, the clouds obscured the “forever” views that I love up there, but we still got ample views. It was chilly while we ate our lunches. The clouds gradually receded while we were up there. They didn’t clear by any stretch of the imagination, but the longer we lingered, the better the views. Hermit Thrushes and Columbian Ground Squirrels scampered among the new growth and we finished up eating and packed up.

We took a few last photos and started heading down. It felt amazing to get back into my backyard park and get some elevation in the mountains that I love. The flowers. My goodness the flowers. I love it all. Thank you Scalplock Lookout for the taste of things to come in Glacier National Park!

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