"Going to the Sun" 1,000 miles north...

So, we're back in SW Colorado after our "Almost to Canada Road Trip"....

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Jon took that pic... 

Okay, disclaimer... Jon took a lot of the pics in Glacier National Park cause Jon can climb higher than me...he's a mountain goat and is just warming up after a three mile trek and I'm ready to put my feet up. So we usually find a "family friendly hike" for us to hike together, meaning a 3rd graders could do it, then I sit down somewhere, have a chat with other park visitors, peruse something historic like an old lodge, museum, vintage motor inn/general store to find a snack or possibly sketch on the trail and then send him up the mountain to burn off some energy with the bear spray and strict instructions to stay with other people and away from, well the bears, ( he doesn't really listen to me, if you're wondering)

But before we got to those glorious views in Montana, we had some miles to travel and our first stop was Salt Lake City to hit In and Out Burger, yeah there is one there, and to also get some necessities...

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Which included a stop at the coolest bookstore ever...The King's English,  in the coolest neighborhood of Arts and Craft bungalows ever, called Sugar House, where I got a book On Color, yes the history of Color divided in to ROY G BIV chapters! Later book review on that...( I'll post link here)

Also stopped at the REI in Salt Lake. On the list....a smaller Maduka Yoga Travel Mat than the Manduka Pro I use at home, best Yoga Mat ever! Also on the list, bear spray...yes two cans, cause I reasoned what were we going to do, ask the bear to wait a sec so whoever Had the bear spray could give it to the one who was being attacked by a bear? Yes, I carried it everywhere with me in the Park, not in my hand, but on the outside of my backpack.

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Jon did point out, that I might not want to "season" the mat with coarse salt like Manduka suggested, since, yeah, Grizzlies might think I was a burrito.

So, after a late afternoon stop in Salt Lake, we drove a bit more north, staying over in Pocatello, Idaho where I actually got attacked by ants in the parking lot loading the truck, gave quite a show to the early risers in the breakfast room of the Motel 8, doing a dance and throwing off my shoes and socks..but they were biting me! Then it was five hours up the road to Helena, Montana...

Cathedral of Saint Helena

Cathedral of Saint Helena

which I always wanted to see and was nothing like what I had formed in my mind, thanks mostly to the scenes in Legends of the Fall where Brad Pitt comes to Helena to find his love that married his brother...., yeah...that was not filmed anywhere near Helena! ... (blog post to follow on that)

Back to our final destination and since you have to get your act together a year in advance for camping reservations in Glacier and that is NEVER HAPPENING in this family, we left early from Helena and had three hours to get to the east side of Glacier, the St. Mary's entrance where thanks to the Park's amazing Twitter feed we knew the best bet for the first come first served, limited camping spots would be the Rising Sun campground, which I think we lucked out and was the best hands down place to camp, reservation or not, apart from having Park Rangers chasing a big black bear through the campground shooting it in the butt with rubber bullets, but that was kind of interesting. Below is not the naughty bear in the campground, but one across the road the night before...  

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Disclaimer #2 here...I have never done more planning and organizing going on a road trip in my life. Way back, when we traveled with babies, children, then teenagers....we sort of just winged it? We stuffed them and all of our stuff in the truck and went... Now that it is just the two of us, I have turned into a organizing feen. I figured out his and her zones in the back of the cab, and how to pack our stuff in plastic bins on the back seat, a food cooler in the center for easy snacking, each side of the backseat floor and cubby holes in the doors were equally divided for our books,  laptop bags, and electronic gear. I bought several zippered and Velcro-ed travel bags for the first time ever that could hang off the headrests. Had a mobile kitchen ready to go to utilize the tailgate of the truck...And recently I bought a real paper bound organizer, so planned out our route, our itinerary once in the Park with it and studied all the great info on the GNP site like charts of when and what campgrounds were filling up and when the traffic was heavy at popular places. 

Yeah, so you can either stuff two children in the backseat of a truck and head down the road or you can go glam roadtripping? Let me rephrase..I can either travel with two children or glam road trip, but I'd road trip with my girls any day organized or not and go back to Glacier again and hopefully into Canada next time!

Goose Island Overlook...(yeah, Jon took that one too)

Goose Island Overlook...(yeah, Jon took that one too)

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He took our "selfies" as well, cause his arms are longer, I mean really long!

So #3 disclaimer..I don't like "preaching....okay a little bit" but it is predicted that all the glaciers in GNP will be gone in my life time and no amount of "gag orders" from idiots in Washington will change that. As caretakers of this earth, there is No Excuse for This! Yes, glacier's move and melt, but climate change is real and we are causing a lot of it, not all of it, but a lot of it BECAUSE...Crap in....Crap out! You dump crap into the the air, the land, the water, the ocean, what should you expect is going to happen?

Jackson Glacier Overlook with winter snow on top of it...

Jackson Glacier Overlook with winter snow on top of it...

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Okay....I'm done....maybe? Probably not. Where was I?

Of all my planning, most importantly, I kept track of the Going To The Sun Road ...

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 which is a beautiful drive over the Continental Divide and is the only road from the East to the West side of the Park. So, before that road opens in the early summer there is no way to get across to the other side without having to drive out of the Park, go south and then north and back in again. The Park Service did not finish snowplowing "Going to the Sun"  until two days before we left, @ June 24th, 2018. I actually startled Jon at about 11 o'clock when I checked the GNP twitter feed and squealed with joy. The park website will give you the dates the pass open in previous years ranging from mid June to late July, usually.

So check all the info the internet has to offer. Note, we did buy a book on Glacier in Salt Lake, but after Jon noticed it misidentified a buck deer for a bull elk, we didn't have a lot of faith in it, but do bring some good paper maps of the park and details of the trails cause once you get into the park... there is No AT&T service, Verizon is slightly better but 4G is on life support. Actually my phone thought I was in Canada, and would let me know "International Rates Would Apply"...

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Living unplugged for a few days would be a great thing to adsorb the sites of Glacier and "smell the wildflowers".... except for the fact that back in Colorado, it was fire season, and Daughter #2 and Grandpa were taking care of the Homestead and the animals and we felt like we needed to check in at least once a day. There are hot spots at some visitor centers and lodges, nothing you would want to pull up a camp chair and sip a cappuccino to do some internet surfing at, for all the rest of us trying to check messages we might beat you up, and the connection dies after about ten minutes, but at least you can verify if there are any fires, literal for us, since there were two active wildfires in SW Colorado when we left.  

The Rising Sun campground does have an old pay phone at the entrance that was our back up back up plan to check in and we did get to the campground early enough to grab a nice campsite and do our drive twice around the circle of campsites and then hurry back to the one we liked, actually I liked, thing we do. Once we got settled, had our food secure in our own bear box, cemented to the ground near the campsite, and with the day in front of us, we drove up to the top of the "Going To The Sun Road" where behind the Logan Visitor Center is the Hidden Lake Trail that in the end of June looked like this...  

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There is a boardwalk between those tall poles and like three feet of slushy snow on each side. Kind of reminds me of the Klondike Gold Rush were men, women and children had to climb through the Chilkoot Pass to get to the gold!

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I got as far as where I took that picture but of course, Jon got higher, going straight up to the rocks and dirt, instead of the slick ice covered trail...

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and took some pics of his "cousins"...

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Another good and more mellow way to see the park up close, is to take a boat tour...which we did our first evening at the less visited Rising Sun dock on St. Mary's lake...

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on one of the oldest wooden boats in the park, the Little Chief circa. @ 1933...

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I think the squared off peak to the right... is the "Going to the Sun Peak"  which  like many Western landmarks could have been named from an Native American legend or by a drunk fur trapper, I'm taking liberties, read the link wiki article...

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But here is a close up view of Goose Island and the pics are a mash up of both Jon and I's...

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apparently the mountain goats like to lick the lichen from the rocks and get this, the anti freeze off the parking lots....so there is another example of the responsibility of limiting "crap in, crap out" we have towards the planet. The aqua green water is from the coldness and minerals found only in a glacier fed lake, so when the glacier are gone, so will that color of water.

Next day, we drove out of the St. Mary's entrance and up towards Canada to the Many Glacier's entrance...

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on a very bumpy ignored pot hold paved road and hiked around the lake near the Many Glacier Lodge, my kid friendly hike for the day, then we went on to the Swift Current Motor Lodge and Store , where Jon went up on the Ptarmigan Trail... 

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and saw a mamma grizzly, his words..."as big as a VW bug" and two babies from last year. He said a couple of hikers who came up behind him and a girl who were looking at the bears through his binoculars, turned around without a word to each other and made a "B" line back down the trail. He said he wasn't thinking of taking a pic when he first saw them, the bears, up close and when he did think of taking a pic they were too far away.

I sketched this...

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on the porch of the Swift Current General Store, hanging out near  a group of backpacking Catholic boys, their fatigues said so and their priest/ teacher, who was wearing the full monk robe and hiking boots. I kind of wanted to get a picture of that but didn't dare.

Over our time in Glacier, I not only saw a Catholic priest hiking in a robe but also a group of Buddist monks on the Hidden Lake Trail and behind them...a family of Amish hikers, yup Amish, hey, it's a National Park.  

We did eventually make our way over The Going to the Sun road, which includes the "weeping wall"...

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where we almost got our truck mirror knocked off, thank goodness it is made to fold inward, when a tiny car was taking up the middle of the road, apparently terrified by the drop off, which were steep, but yeah, nothing like some passes in Colorado...

We did get safely over the pass and found a campsite, then we took a respite right outside the West Glacier Entrance...

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a cute junction with a train depot were many travelers, courted by the railroads came to the park before there were roads and cars. We stayed for a bit in West Glacier for the modern convince of Wifi! Plus it had a huge Canadian info center where Jon apparently is planning a micro brewery road trip...

 

The West Side of Glacier is totally different then the East side, with a weird weather condition between the lakes and that side of the mountain range that allows an ancient cedar forest to thrive...

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And with much more "posh" accommodations  then the East side... 

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Situated along the banks of Lake McDonald is one of the lodges built by the Great Northern Railroad, ... How the railroads got tourists to come to National Parks in the west back then and had the US government basically in their back pockets is a fascinating blog post coming soon.

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Alas, we did not stay at the Lake McDonald Lodge, but at the very surreal Sprague Creek campground, surrounded by ancient cedars and also on the shores of Lake McDonald. Luckily we left early to make the drive over the Going to the Sun road because we were one of the last to get a site in this first come first serve and no trailers allowed campsites. 

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See that VW Bug...that is the size of that Mama Grizzly for comparison...

Campfire hash with deli roast beef, diced up baked potatoes, avacado and a runny egg is always a good thing.

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On the West side, our family friendly hike was through the Trail of the Cedars ... 

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Another blog coming on this as well...

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where you guessed it, eventually Jon kept hiking on and  I found a place to sit and sketch...

That is the underside of a cedar tree that fell over

That is the underside of a cedar tree that fell over

still not done with this one...post it when I am

still not done with this one...post it when I am

Kelly LewisComment