The Scenic Circle
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
To realize the spot as best we may, let us pause on the bridge among those casting for trout below the upper fall and glance around. To our left rises Allen Mountain, rugged, irregular, forest-clothed half-way up its forty-five hundred feet of elevation above the valley floor. Beyond it a long gigantic wall sets in at right angles, blue, shining, serrated, supporting, apparently on the lake edge, an enormous gable end of gray limestone banded with black diorite, a veritable personality comparable with Yosemite's most famous rocks. This is Mount Gould. Next is the Grinnell Glacier, hanging glistening in the air, dripping water-falls, backgrounded by the gnawed top of the venerable Garden Wall. Then comes in turn the majestic mass of Mount Grinnell, four miles long, culminating at the lakeside in an enormous parti-colored pyramid more impressive from the hotel than even Rockwell is from Two Medicine chalets. Then, upon its right, appears a wall which is the unnamed continuation of the Garden Wall, and, plastered against the side of Swift-current Mountain, three small hanging glaciers, seeming in the distance like two long parallel snow-banks. Then Mount Wilbur, another giant pyramid, gray, towering, massively carved, grandly proportioned, kingly in bearing ! Again upon its right emerges still another continuation, also unnamed, of the Garden Wall, this section loftiest of all and bitten deeply by the ages. A part of it is instantly recognized from the hotel window as part of the sky-line surrounding famous Iceberg Lake. Its right is lost behind the nearer slopes of red Mount Henkel, which swings back upon our right, bringing the eye nearly to its starting-point. A glance out behind between mountains, upon the limitless lake-dotted plain, completes the scenic circle.
McDermott Lake, by which I here mean the Swift-current enclosure as seen from the Many Glacier Hotel, is illustrative of all of Glacier. There are wilder spots, by far, some which frighten; there are places of nobler beauty, though as I write I know I shall deny it the next time I stand on McDermott's shores; there are supreme places which at first glance seem to have no kinship with any other place on earth. Nevertheless, McDermott contains all of Glacier's elements, all her charm, and practically all her combinations. It is the place of places to study Glacier. It is also a place to dream away idle weeks.
So he who cannot ride or walk the trails may still see and understand Glacier in her majesty. Besides the places I have mentioned he may see, from the Cut Bank Chalet, a characteristic forested valley of great beauty, and at Lewis's hotel on Lake McDonald the finest spot accessible upon the broad west side, the playground, as the east side is the show-place, of hundreds of future thousands.
So many are the short horseback trips from Many Glacier Hotel to places of significance and beauty that it is hard for the timid to withstand the temptation of the trail. Four miles will reach Grinnell Lake at the foot of its glacier, six miles will penetrate the Cracker Lake Gorge at the perpendicular base of Mount Siyeh, eight miles will disclose the astonishing spectacle of Iceberg Lake, and nine miles will cross the Swiftcurrent Pass to the Granite Park Chalet.