Monday, July 25, 2011

Glacier National Park - Day 1

On Friday morning we got up early to take on our drive to Whitefish, Montana for our visit to Glacier National Park – it took 12 hours!  Of all the places we were to visit on our summer trip, this is the one place Scott didn’t want to have to be driving to in the dark, thus our early start.  We were about two hours away from our hotel, and Scott started spotting deer grazing along the side of the road.  Within a five-mile span, we counted about 30 of them - most of them were alone.  Fortunately, Scott was driving; he has eagle eyes when it comes to spotting critters on or near the road.  We have prayed for travel mercies daily, but this time I asked Ashlee to say one specific to keeping the deer out of our path.  We arrived safely at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake around 11:00 pm, unloaded, and hit the hay!  Here are some fun pics from along the way

Taking advantage of the long car ride to do summer reading for school

This is Ashlee's 6th book to read since starting our trip!

Ace Hardware sign

This huge nest was perched atop what looked like a phone pole.
We didn’t set any records for getting up early the next morning, but we didn’t sleep in too late either.  After our all day visit to Victoria, Canada the day before, my body was still aching all over… from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes, but we only had two days to spend at Glacier and we weren’t about to spend them sleeping.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect - clear with sunny skies, and the temperature was not too hot, not too cold.  We set off for our 40-minute drive to get to the entrance of the park and the visitor center, which was our first stop.

At the visitor center, we talked to a ranger, told him we wanted to do the hike to Grinnel Glacier (a 10-mile roundtrip, all day hike), and we asked him his recommendation.  He informed us that the trail to Grinnel Glacier was “officially” open… BUT it was covered with 10 FEET OF SNOW!  Scott and Ashlee were bummed!  Emilee was jumping for joy.  I had mixed emotions… I really wanted to see the glacier and do the trail, but my body was rebelling on me.  So armed with pre-trip planning info and our trail guide and park map, we finished up at the visitor center and loaded back into the van.  We decided we’d hit the “Going to the Sun Road” today as well as taking a couple of the smaller hikes we found along the way, and then we’d get up early the next morning and hit a longer hike.  “Going to the Sun Road” is a 52-mile loop, up one side of the mountains and down the other side, with views to knock your socks off.  I was driving, so I think we pulled into almost every single available to snap some pictures.  It is called “Going to the Sun” because at times as you are going up the mountain, you look like you are going right off!  It is a winding, cliff-hugging road with so many spectacular views.

Our view at the first pullout along Going to the Sun Road

We spotted more deer snacking alongside a creek.

 This waterfall was flowing under the roadway
and through the bridge.

We got about halfway around the loop up to the Logan’s Pass Visitor Center and stopped off.  There was snow everywhere.  They’d had their record snowfall this year, especially for so late in the season.  It was July 16th, for heaven’s sake, and there was still several feet of snow on the ground.  One of the rangers said that there was so much snow that it had actually covered the visitor’s center.  This was also the trailhead to Hidden Lake, so we hopped out.  In front of us was the visitor center and trailhead.  Behind us was a huge mountain with mountain goats.  I still can’t figure out how they got up there.  You had to zoom in on the camera to really see them up there. Right in front of the visitor center was also the Continental Divide – an imaginary line that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean and, along the northernmost reaches of the Divide, those river systems that drain into the Arctic Ocean.

Check out that snow bank!

 That white dot you see in the middle of this picture
is actually a mountain goat.
How in the world did he get up there?
Here is a bigger picture of the mountain the goat is on.

After checking out the visitor center and grabbing our jackets, snacks, and water, we hit the trail.  The trail was totally covered in snow.  In fact, you couldn’t even see the trail.  It was marked with poles that the rangers had stuck down into the snow to show hikers which way to go.  We were slipping and sliding all over the place!  It was one of the most fun hikes we had done so far.  And when we got close to the top, we spotted a mountain goat close to the trail!  My favorite view on the trail was the little pond close to the end of the trail – it was absolutely gorgeous!

The trailhead for Hidden Lake - covered in several feet of snow

Our view along the trail

A pond near the top of the trail

This was my favorite view along the trail.

The mountain goat was about 30 feet away from us.
We walked a little further to the end, at least this was as far as we were going, and came to a viewpoint where we could see a glacier in the distance as well as Hidden Lake – it was totally covered in ice.  We sat at the top for a while and just enjoyed the view while eating our granola bars, and then we headed back down.  I think we slid down more than we walked down.  I don’t know how we managed to do it, but Scott and I didn’t fall in the snow.   I came very close to falling a couple of times, but I made it to the bottom without a wet butt!

Another view from the top

This is a picture of the glacier toward the top right of the photo

The glacier is the two peaks in the middle.

Looking  out toward the glacier

Scott & Ashlee - slippin' and a slidin'
Emilee said for every step she took forward, she slid two backwards.
We walked on out to the parking lot and there was a mountain goat roaming around on the sidewalk.  Then he made a leap up onto the snow bank as if he was posing just for the cameras.  As we drove out of the parking lot, we spotted a few more mountain goats roaming around some DOT trucks.  A couple of them were trying to get underneath the trucks.  We had read in one of the park’s brochures that the mountain goats lick the antifreeze from vehicles because they need salt in their diet.  They were licking the underside of the trucks!  Hilarious!

Yummy... antifreeze!

Here are some more pictures of our drive on the Going to the Sun Road.  I think one of the favorite spots along the road is called “The Weeping Wall.”  It’s where the rocks overhang the road just a bit and water from melting snow pours off of the rocks onto the roadway.  If you drive close to the edge of the road, you can drive under the “waterfall”.  I was driving, Scott was armed with the camera in the passenger seat, window down, and he got a good soakin’!  It was great!  And he was laughing just as hard as the girls and I were.  Too much fun!

On our way back down the road, we stopped off at a short trail to see a couple of waterfalls.  Once again, we were a bit concerned about bears – there were lots of warnings at Glacier about bears.  They tell you that the best thing you can do is not sneak up on a bear (as if I would do that on purpose!).   So we’re supposed to make noise as we go… talk loud, etc.  We need not have worried.  Emilee took that advice as a personal mission.  The child jabbered for the entire two-mile hike.  She was leading the way, and none of us could even hear what she was saying or what she was talking about.  I don’t know how she even took a breath… I never heard her stop talking.  No surprised bears on this hike!  We got almost to the end of the trail, of which the last half-mile was uphill, and I was starting to struggle a bit.  Scott and Ashlee typically finish a trail way ahead of Emilee and me, but Scott wanted us to all stay together on this one since were pretty much alone on this trail.  So I was trying to keep up as best as I could.  We then spotted an area along the trail that was covered in little white feathers, lots and lots and lots of little white feathers.  Something had gotten a hold of something!  And those feathers had not been there on the way down the trail.  Needless to say, that was all the motivation I needed to put a little pep in my step.  I had no problem keeping up with them after that!

YIKES! Feathers everywhere!
When we got to the car, my body was done!  Don’t know what happened, but it hit, and it hit hard.  The body aches I had been experiencing for the past couple of days, the ones that I just assumed were from walking and hiking and being on my feet constantly, were hitting with a vengeance.  I had wanted to do one more short trail on our way out, but Scott said we were heading back to put me in the bed.  We stopped off for some cold/flu medicine on our way back to the hotel, and I collapsed when we got back.  Then I just prayed that nobody else would get sick.  It was an incredibly rough night.

The next morning, Scott got up and took the girls back to Glacier and made me stay at the hotel in the bed.  I don’t think I could have made it if I had wanted to, but it was so hard to miss out on what they were doing.  After being on the road together for six weeks, I missed having them around.  However, I got some much-needed rest!  I physically felt much better the next day, but the cough then set in and, as of this writing a week later, the cough is just now fading.  Fortunately, after losing my voice for a couple of days, I sound much worse than I feel now, and I only lost one day of fun!  And even better, thanks to our prayers, nobody else got whatever it was that I had!  Stay tuned for Ashlee's post on their day at Glacier with Daddy!

Here are a few more of my favorite pics of our 1st day at Glacier National Park... definitely my favorite national park so far!

No comments:

Post a Comment