Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail is one of the best long day hikes in the entire National Park System. I have hiked at least part of the trail each of the three times I have visited the park. The trail provides top-of-the-world scenery and plenty of opportunities to encounter wildlife.
One such example occurred my first time on the trail. I was only a mile or two into the long hike to Granite Park Chalet, which totals almost sixteen miles round-trip. I rounded a turn on the trail as it curved its way around the mountain and saw a bighorn sheep walking along the trail. This was a full-grown ram, which meant it was a male that likely weighed in around 300 pounds. It was following the trail in the same direction as me, toward the chalet. It was evident that animals prefer trails just as people do.
At first I stopped and took a couple of photos, and then I slowly proceeded after it. The ram was stout and muscular. It was a magnificent, graceful animal that looked completely content and comfortable in its environment. As it slowly and calmly walked along the path it noticed me, but didn’t seem to mind my presence. I trailed about twenty feet behind it on the narrow trail waiting to see what it would do next. I felt safe due to its completely nonthreatening behavior. After a few minutes it walked about ten feet above the trail, up and onto a small patch of pink wildflowers. I cautiously and quietly walked below it on the trail. Its eyes followed me the whole way. Once I was a short distance beyond the ram I took my camera back out. I swear that just as I raised the camera to my eye the ram posed for me.