Day 120. As most of my family and friends can tell you, my favorite place on earth is Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park. A hike-up-only lodge that sits atop the continental divide, looking out over beautiful Rocky Mountains and valleys. It’s a 7-mile hike from the famous Going to the Sun Road in Montana, and part of every trip itinerary I’ve taken there since I was 9 years old.
However, I must say. The AMC is challenging them for the title. This hut to hut system is simple incredible, and my day spent at Galehead Hut gave me plenty of time and resources to reflect on it. It rained all day, but in-between games with my nephews, I read up on the history of the huts and the evolution/enhancement to what we see today. I can honestly say these White Mountains are now my 2nd favorite place on earth.
Seeing as it was a Zero Day, I thought it may be fun to have my sister tell her story for these past two days. She agreed to document the Berman side of things in today’s post, so here it is (co-written with me for additional clarity):
I’m not going to lie. When I heard the forecast of thunderstorms with hail and 80 mph winds possible, I considered bailing on our plan and checking into the fancy looking Mt Washington lodge down the road. But Uncle Sharkbait, and the our new friend Steve on duty at the Highland Center, found a great solution win a Zero Day at Galehead. So we were ready to go and prepared the next morning.
Here’s what prepared looks like in the Berman household: Our oldest child (Jonah, 11) carried everyone’s rain gear. Our middle (Caleb, 9) had eight emergency packs of Ramen in case our vegetarian, kid friendly, no-nut meal request proved difficult for the hut staff. And also our daily Berman Family medicine … 3 boxes of Carr’s Table Water crackers. And our youngest (Zachary, 7) carried his morning coffee (I.e. three packs of chocolate milk). Then, to round it all out, my husband Kevin and I carried five people’s worth of clothing, food, toiletries, headlamps, sleeping bag liners, flip flops, water bottles, and Benadryl.
Despite perfect weather, gummy bears and full size candy bars, the going was slow. Or more accurately, straight up. We found our key motivators became ego and fear. Jonah decided he needed to beat Sharkbait to the lodge, because having his uncle hike thirteen miles faster than he hiked 5 was too “embarrassing.” Zachary had to go number two and the fear of pooping in the woods turned his legs into rocket boosters. I could barely keep up with them!
Doing our best oblivious Uncle Sharkbait impression, Jonah and I missed the trail sign and almost turned the wrong way near the end. Fortunately though, a nice couple with a dog set us straight and the kids ran on ahead to the Galehead hut. Zachary made it in time!
What a hut. You enter a bedroom with bunk beds stacked to the ceiling. Nothing says family like sleeping on the bottom bunk with your three children stacked on top of you. Jonah on the fourth level, 20 feet up. Kevin had snagged a bottom bunk too, but nicely gave it to an older couple for a third level bunk instead. Given the amount of peanut butter consumed up here, we thought it was a good insurance policy, as she turned out to be a pediatrician and was also staying both nights like us.
We felt like heroes staying at Galehead for the Zero day, as hikers rolled in soaked from head to toe, shivering all day, while we played endless games and drank bottomless cups of hot chocolate. I couldn’t resist mothering a group of Overland Camp teens, one of whom was wearing his puff jacket OVER his rain gear. I begged him to put it under. As a teenager finally away from his mother should do, he politely declined my advice.
Our day was idyllic. Playing games and reading with no phones, work, or screens to distract us. Luckily they had Settlers of Catan, a family favorite, and the sheep were able to return to Neimantown (an inside joke my kids love to shout when we play together). We enjoyed dinner with our new friends and even managed to eat the ACTUAL meal they served. Homemade bread, soup, lasagna, salad and peas. We hadn’t hiked today, but some very intense card games and bridge building (using Jenga pieces) had worked up our appetites.
As I sit here typing, Sharkbait is being massaged by Manuel and Meatloaf (Zach and Caleb’s trail names). Lights out is in five minutes and we still have to scale two flights of ladder to get to our beds. Still, I’m not complaining. The bathrooms are inside here and the rain is still coming down. Fingers crossed that the weather breaks before tomorrow. We have a bunch of contingencies, but hope we’ll be able to head to Zealand falls hut. It’s tempting to stay here another night. Being woken up by “croo” member Grace’s guitar playing is a great way to start any day!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)
- Start Mile: 1830.8
- Start Time: 0:00
- End Mile: 1830.8
- End Time: 0:00
- Miles Hiked: 0.0
- Miles to Go: 360.1
- Lodging: Galehead Hut