Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Glacier National Park

We headed up to Glacier National Park after stocking up on groceries in Whitefish. We got a great spot in a first-come-first-serve campground called Sprague Creek on Lake McDonald. Glacier is an amazing park with wild scenery. Glaciers that were upwards of 2000 feet thick carved out these deep mountain valleys. Sadly global warming has reduced most of the glaciers to something more like the size of a football field on each mountain. The park is famous for its large grizzly bear population, the chance for an encounter and even more famous for the occasional brutal mauling/fatal encounter, so we were on full bear alert for the entire visit.

We spent the first day getting situated in the park and did a strenuous uphill hike in the afternoon to Snyder Lake. A nice alpine lake centered in an alpine bowl and rock slides and deep forest around it. The second day we drove the “Going to the Sun’ road during the morning. This road was literally carved out of the side of the mountain in the 30’s and is nothing short of spectacular. That afternoon we drove over to Many Glacier and did a small hike to Red Rock Falls. Another great hike with terrific scenery through a glacial valley however the most notable event on this one was our brief encounter with a Grizzly on the trail. The original trail we were going to do was closed for dangerous bear activity so we selected this shorter one which was headed in the opposite direction. Well, about 5 minutes into the trail I happened to turn around and see a medium sized Grizzly munching flowers about 25 yards up slope from us. He didn’t see us at first, then stood on his hind legs to smell the air. He sniffed, looking away from us, then turned toward us and started running down the slope. The bear spray safety came off, and we assumed position for an encounter. The position consisted of Sara and I tripping over each other and saying oh’shit, repeatedly. The bear was down the slope in 2 seconds and then ran into the woods never to be seen again. Okay, not that exciting, but he was close, and when he started running down the hill towards our direction, he would have been on us no time. We were making plenty of noise but the wind was blowing about 20 knots that day so he probably didn’t smell us or hear us because of the strong breeze. We turned after making sure he wasn’t following us and continued on.

The third day was another spectacular hike that left from Logan’s pass (middle of Going to the Sun road), this trail was called the Highline trail. The trail followed the Continental Divide along the mountain tops and along what is called the “garden wall”. The garden wall is basically a very narrow trail running along the slopes with alpine meadows, and steep cliffs. The drop offs to the left of the trail were in thousands of feet, not hundreds… not for people who are a afraid of heights. The hike was long, about 11 miles over varying terrain. The first 6 miles was awesome and we stopped at a mountain top chalet for lunch, then finished with a steep 5 mile downhill that took a big toll on our bodies.

Glacier is a great park with great scenery but isn’t nearly as accessible, nor does it have the many activities as Yellowstone. For hikers and campers, Glacier is awesome. For families, I think they would get bored. Check out our picture album by clicking here.

Today we awoke early and headed out to Spokane where we will stay the night. Tomorrow we are either heading to Washington wine country or Yakima, or Seattle… not sure, we’ll discuss over happy hour.


Kelly said...

'Fess up, now. That picture has GOT to be something you purchased in a gift shop. That is just too gorgeous to be real!!!!

Chris & Sara said...

Nope, our own camera... we were lucky because the smoke didn't fill in that day until about 1PM. Normally the range is obscured after 11AM with all the fires in the area.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so u took a picture of a post card with your camera?