Saturday, September 08, 2007

Glacier National Park, Road to the Sun

After five and half days of driving, I was beginning to wonder if Glacier would be worth it. After the first day here, I knew it was. The park is really spectacular. It is also clear I made the right decision to get here as quickly as I could, since the Going to the Sun Road, the main road across the park, will close for the winter on September 16. Most of the campgrounds close by September 15, although some at the lower elevations around the perimeter are open all winter. For more visual evidence that I got here just in time, take a look at the picture below. This is a picture of Red Eagle Mountain, taken from my campsite this morning. When I arrived, there was no snow on the mountain. This blanket of snow arrived on Friday afternoon and evening.

The park is formally called the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton park was established by Canada in the 1890s and Glacier was established by the USA in 1910. They were combined in 1932 and renamed to reflect our friendly and peaceful relationship. Unfortunately, today, I can’t visit the Canadian part of the park without a passport.

Going to the Sun Road must be the most scenic road in the country. I decided to focus these first few days on this road and short (up to 5 miles) trails from it. Below is Going to the Sun Mountain, one of the highlights of the road, of course.

Glacier Park, as you might guess, was formed by glaciers. These are retreating, but many still exist. Below is Jackson Glacier.

I hiked Hidden Lake trail and took these pictures of mountain goats and Hidden Lakes/Sperry Glacier from Hidden Lake Pass.

Then I spotted these Bighorn sheep near Logan’s Pass.

On day 2, I hiked a short section of the famous Highline Trail, shown below. I hope to take a longer hike on this trail later.

I also hiked the Avalanche trail. Below is a picture of Avalanche Lake where Avalanche Falls drops into the lake, and Avalanche Gorge, a narrow gorge cut by exit of the water from Avalanche Lake.

Finally on day 2, are pictures of McDonald Falls and McDonald Lodge. Glacier is unique in that there are many lodges build in Alpine style in the 1920s. I happened to catch McDonald Lodge with three 1937 Cords parked in back, along with typical classic tour coaches (Red on Left) still used in the park. This is all in the back, since there were no roads when the lodge was built. The front faces lake McDonald, where guests arrived by steam boat on Lake McDonald, after a train and stage coach ride to the other end of the lake.

On day 3, today, I took the picture (top) of Red Eagle mountain from my campsite, and the below picture of Red Eagle from Sun Point over lake St Mary.

Then I hiked to St Mary Falls and took this picture below before stopping again at Lake McDonald to take the picture of mountains and clouds over the lake.

Then, I beat it to Whitefish to try to catch the A&M/Fresno State game. Unfortunately, all the hotels in Whitefish were booked, so I talked the sweet young thing at the desk into letting me use the TV in the Lobby, since the game was already underway. The local papers showed the game would be on, but it was preempted by a Boise State game!

Never to be denied, I booted up WiFi from the parking lot and am listening to the game on the internet at Aggie Athletics while posting this report. I’ll find a hotel later and plan to head back to the park tomorrow after church.

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