Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Glacier Paradise

Gail writes:
Glacier National Park is certainly a breathtaking place. The views of the mountains from our campsite across Lake McDonald are lovely, and the water is bracingly cold. Yesterday we took the shuttle up to Logan Pass. The Park Service is really encouraging use of the shuttle, since Going To The Sun Road is undergoing construction and they’re trying to minimize traffic. The shuttle driver was knowledgeable and provided good commentary on the way up. I’m sure the road is stunningly beautiful (Armin & the boys told me so), but I spent most of the ride studiously examining the seat in front of me and the rocks on the mountainside. I sneaked a few peeks at the sheer drops on the roadside and had to shut my eyes.

I was glad when we reached the top and had our feet on solid ground. We did a 3-mile hike that was one of our most challenging because of the snowy conditions. The boys absolutely LOVED the fact that it was the end of July and they could throw snowballs at each other. We slipped and slid on the snowfields and were rewarded by a close-up look at a mother and baby pair of mountain goats. They were not more than 5 feet away from us, calmly munching on grass. The father goat tried to join them, but the mother gave him a stern warning to keep his distance. We hiked past them to the Hidden Lake overlook, where we enjoyed the spectacular views. On the way back, we saw the goats again. This time they were lying on the snowpack, licking at the snow. A crowd had gathered to watch and take pictures, and everyone was very amused.

The shuttle trip down was a bit slow, and we finally got back to our campsite at around 5. We made a tasty dinner and then headed out to the amphitheater for the evening program. Usually it’s a ranger talk, but this time we were in for something different. It was a one-woman play by an actress from Boston who portrayed early settler Josephine Doody, a working girl who certainly had some wild times in the late 1800s-early 1900s. She spent some time addicted to opium before she got straight and became a bootlegger. The play was very entertaining, and I learned a lot about the struggles of life on the frontier.

Armin set out after the program for his midnight bike ride. I was glad when he came home safe and sound at 2:30 this morning!

We had a leisurely morning before we set out to find a hike that a ranger had recommended. It started at a little-visited area of the park, near the town of Polebridge. The ranger had told us that there’s a good bakery in Polebridge, so I was excited. The town is miniscule—barely more than a wide place in the road. But it boasts the Polebridge Mercantile, a store/bakery that’s been on site for nearly 100 years. We enjoyed huckleberry bearclaws, brownies, and cinnamon rolls, all of which were made from scratch and very tasty. Next door to the store was a saloon/restaurant. The menu even featured a quinoa salad and vegan burrito! There was a poster for an upcoming show at the outdoor stage, and another poster at the store invited folks to meet on the porch for an ongoing discussion of Plato’s works. What a trip! I wanted to hang out there all day, eating pastry, people-watching, and maybe enjoying some quinoa salad.

We tore ourselves away and headed out to find our hike. We couldn’t find the one we wanted, but then found another trailhead and had a short (2.4 mile) meadow hike that was just full of butterflies.

We’ve made reservations for a whitewater raft ride tomorrow. I’m really stretching the edges of my comfort zone for this activity, but everyone else is up for it. I’m sure the guides will make sure that everyone is safe and sound—you’ll get the full report tomorrow.

As our time in Glacier dwindles, we’re starting to make plans for the drive home. We’d budgeted 10 days to get back to Ithaca, but I think we’re going to push it and get home sooner. The boys are itching to see Poe and their friends, so they’re willing to have some long driving days. We’ll leave here on Sunday and aim to be home on Friday. We’ll be road-weary but glad to see our yellow and red house.

1 comment:

  1. These pictures are mindblowing! And that ice is melting I'd guess...
    Looking forward to seeing you all, safe and happy travels! Wow whatta trip! Jer