By Sammi Johnson
Oh Mt. Oberlin, you’re awesome!
Or, as an online Summit Post entry says, Mount Oberlin is a “friendly” Glacier National Park peak.
And I agree. It’s an awesome first-time summit hike in Glacier, accessible with great views.
It’s already wildly popular, and to me and my husband, it’s the perfect peak for our kids.
This summer was our second attempt to summit Oberlin with our now 4- and 6-year-old kids.
There were no expectations — honestly, just getting out of the parking lot was a win. We got a super-early start and packed breakfast to make in the Logan Pass parking lot. We loaded them into the car, still asleep in their sleeping bags, and buckled everybody up. They woke up to instant oatmeal and a nice sunrise.
We also teamed up with another family with a 5-year-old, knowing that a little positive peer pressure never hurt anyone. They also brought great entertainment — flying a two-handled kite at the saddle with the wind whipping east provided many laughs.
The peer pressure worked. At one point, Savannah decided she was done hiking, so we settled in for a trail nap, watching the rest of the group inch toward the summit. That was fine by me — we could wait for the group to summit and return. She finally couldn’t stand it any longer and decided we, too, should probably hustle and join them. So she easily trotted up to them, with me grinning in the background trying to keep up.
It was incredible seeing the kids’ little legs and feet navigate each step with eyes searching out the next cairn. It became a game in and of itself, and slowly but surely, without too much excitement, we reached the summit. No tears, no crying, just little bodies filled with genuine excitement and a big sense of accomplishment and the urge to go back down. We were grinning ear to ear. Clinging to their little hands the last 100 feet or so of the hike and at the summit, we were nervous, but confident. To show them, with relative ease, how amazing this place is was euphoric.
As always, a huge parenting win comes with a huge slap of reality. Only two weeks after this hike, my girlfriend and I took the kids to St. Mary Falls, an easy couple miler … which should’ve meant zero problems when compared to what we hiked in Oberlin. Yet, Maddox complained and yelled like a goat the entire time. This “yelling like a goat” is a new thing he does. I highly recommend a YouTube search of “goat yelling like a man” to get the full picture of what he sounds like when he wails/cries. I baited him up and down the dusty trail with Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids. One week we’re summiting; the next we’re never hiking ever again.
A constant revolving door of uncertainty. As everything always is.
Oberlin Trip Report Stats
8,180 feet in elevation, Northwest of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park
Ages of kids: 3 and 5
Game: Eluding lava to get them out of the parking lot
Destination: Saddle before the summit push; weather moved in
Sights: A wolverine and mountain goats
Weight: Lots of kid-carrying
Injury report: An ankle wound on my daughter. Savannah slipped during the creek crossing, sliced her ankle, and has a scar to date, probably for life. I might have been to blame for this, as I was holding her hand and slipped, too. Anyway…
Ages of kids: 4 and 6
Game: How many rocks can we climb?
Sights: Another wolverine, more mountain goats, and hoart marmots
Weight: Little-to-no kid-carrying, but husband Ty did carry both at the same time, for a little bit
Injury report: No wounds or tears, just me in a knee brace
Sammi is a mother, wife, business owner and marketing director at the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell. Contact her at email@example.com.