Glacier National Park, Montana, Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments, Wildflowers

Glacier National Park, May 17, 2016, Part II

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Next we headed north to the east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road at St. Mary’s Lake. I wanted to do a bit more hiking but we had no water left in our bottles and every store in the little town there was closed. We drove up as far as we could to the point where you could see Jackson Glacier. It looked like a snowfield in the distance, which was a bit disappointing after some of the dramatic glaciers we saw in Alaska. I took photos of wildflowers everywhere that I could.

Near the bottom of the road a grizzly bear ran in front of the car ahead of us out of a meadow into a little stand of trees. I only got a glimpse because I was fumbling with my camera. Lesson learned – I mostly missed seeing the bear AND I didn’t get the shot. But still! A grizzly bear!

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^^^There it is. “Jackson Glacier is approximately the seventh largest of the remaining 25 glaciers in Glacier National Park…In 1850, there were an estimated 150 glaciers in the park. Glaciologists have stated that by the year 2030, many if not all of the glaciers in the park may disappear completely.”

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^^^This was a lovely little stream with several waterfalls and a good trail. Those are colorful rocks, not leaves.

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^^^The sedimentary layers in the Lewis Overthrust were fascinating.

In front of the East Glacier Depot

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^^^We returned the car, hung out at the historic depot, and got on the train with no problem. Taking clear photos from the train was not easy, so I don’t have many. I smuggled a few Montana beers with us which I ended up lugging around for most of the trip! We had dinner on the train and I got off for a few minutes at Whitefish, but after that we slept through the rest of Montana, Idaho, and the edge of eastern Washington.

Glacier National Park, hiking, Montana, Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments

Glacier National Park, May 17, 2016, Part I

We decided to explore the east side of the park on Tuesday, sticking fairly close to the East Glacier depot since we didn’t want a repeat of nearly missing the train. After a visit to the Spiral Spoon and Brownies next door, we headed to Two Medicine Lake.

On the way, we stopped for a small herd of horses in the highway.

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A young couple equipped with bear spray let us tag along with them on an easy trail to Running Eagle Falls. Part of the waterfall seemed to pour out from inside the cliff. We saw moose scat on the trail and later we saw a female moose back in the trees, as well as a big-horned ram running along the road.

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Then at Two Medicine Lake, there was a spot on the shore that must have had a special meaning for Native Americans.

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I wonder what the story was behind these two sites. I told Sandy that this was a place that I would like for my ashes to be scattered. I’d like to think that I might end up in a rocky stream headed for an ocean. Traveling after life.

Glacier National Park, Montana, Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments, Wonderfulness

Glacier National Park, May 16, 2016

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This was our 29th anniversary. We started by heading east to Browning, Montana, to see the Museum of the Plains Indian, operated by members of the Blackfeet Nation. It is a very unassuming building on the outside and we wondered if it was even open. I’m glad that it was, because the exhibits were excellent. I wish that I could have taken photos but it was not allowed. If you are interested in Native American clothing, needlework, art, and culture, I highly recommend it.

Then we decided to head over to the western side of the park, where the little town of West Glacier was pretty much closed. We were able to find some good food down the road at a bar called Packer’s Roost in Coram. The only park facility that was open was the visitor’s center on that side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, so I was able to buy my all-important magnets and get that coveted stamp for my National Parks Passport book. We found out that this road was closed through the highest part of the park due to massive amounts of snow. However, we were able to see some of the most beautiful parts of the park along the part that was still open.

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Even though I griped about us getting to the park a week early, it turned out that a week later they had a big storm with major flooding and we couldn’t have seen even these parts if we had waited, so the lesson is to shut up and enjoy what’s there to be enjoyed. And we did. Lake McDonald is famous for its clear waters, reflections of the mountains around it, a picturesque old lodge, which, of course, was not open…and oh my God, I could have just sat down on its shore for hours just playing with the rocks.

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There was some impressive whitewater coming down McDonald Creek. It would have been nice to hang a hammock and listen to the falls. The water was glacial green where it roared through narrow passes.

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Hard to believe all that empties into this:

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Lake MacDonald, Glacier National Park

Then, just when we felt like we were sated with beauty, the day ended with a rainbow.

Rainbow near East Glacier, Montana