Archive for May, 2009

First Day In Glacier

May 30, 2009 10:46 pm

Day 12 – First Day In Glacier

Today was our first full day in Glacier National Park.  We woke up this morning to another spectacular day!  Who would have figured that Glacier National Park in Montana would be warmer than the Grand Canyon?  No one would believe it, but it was 70+ degrees out today and amazingly sunny. 

This morning we took a bit of a leisurely time getting ready, taking time to eat our daily bagels, cleaning up the campsite and getting everything packed up.  For some reason every time we pack the car up, it seems to get slightly harder to fit everything in.  I’m really not sure why this is though, we haven’t been stocking up on souvenirs and we’ve been chewing through plenty of our food every day.  Never the less, we managed to get everything packed in and ready to go before too long. 

From the campsite, we headed over to the Apgar Trailhead.  We had hoped to drive through the mountains, however the famous “Going-to-the-Sun” road was still closed throughout the duration of our visit.  This road is closed every winter due to excessive amounts of snow, and at this time, at the end of May, they are still trying to dig out the road from all the snow and avalanches. 

We also stopped by the visitors center on our way over there to inquire about visiting the east side of the park and what camping would be available on that side of the park.  More on this later.

Apgar

Apgar

The Apgar Lookout Trail climbs up a small mountain on the far end of lake McDonald  which pours out of the Rocky Mountains of Glacier.  This trail promised to provide spectacular views out across the lake and up at the mountains.  On the way to trailhead, we were approached by a friendly park ranger who informed us that the access road to the trailhead was closed just ahead (about 2 miles from the start of the trail) due to flooding.  However, she informed us that we could easily park where it was closed and walk in the additional distance with only a minor wade across a flooded section of road.  We decided to do the hike anyway, with the additional four miles tacked on. 

The initial bit to the trailhead was quite easy, walking along a gravel road.  As informed, we had to pull off our shoes and socks a short way into the hike and wade through about 6-8 inches of water flooding around the side of a bridge over a small river. 

Road to the Trailhead

Road to the Trailhead

Once we reached the trailhead, we started a steady, but increasingly steep incline up the side of the mountain.  The trail progressed up the side of the mountain overlooking the town outside the park yielding increasingly spectacular views the higher we went.  On the way up, we progressed through mostly burned out forest, the remnant of a huge forest fire in 2003.  This made the trail very hot with the sun beating down on us, but also gave us great views with just about every step.

View on the Way Up

View on the Way Up

Once we arrived at the top, we were greeted with our first view looking east out over the mountains.  This view was completely breathtaking.  As has been the trend with this blog, the pictures can only start to do it justice

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

We took this opportunity to eat some lunch and enjoy the view.  We also took the chance to call some of our families and have them look at the webcam on top of the mountain looking out over the same view we were enjoying.  We also struck a casual pose in front of the camera and had family members snag a copy of the photo (to be posted here later). 

Webcam at the top

Webcam at the top

We then turned around for the trip back down.  Again, we were treated to great views all the way down.

The Trail Down

The Trail Down

At the end of our hike down, we especially enjoyed the chance to take our shoes off and wade across the flooded road again.  Taking the time to soak our feet and cool them off.

Once back in the car, we decided to head up as much of the Going-To-The-Sun Road as we could.  On the way up, we passed dump truck after dump truck bringing rocks and debris down off the mountain.  Again, we were treated to spectacular views across the lake. 

View across the lake looking at where we hiked.

View across the lake looking at where we hiked.

After this short scenic drive we decided to head over to the eastern side of the park to explore the St. Mary portion of the park.  The drive around to the other side of the park took about 2 hours but was completely amazing.  As we approached the east side of the park, we could see where the prairie ran smack into the mountains. 

Prairie meeting Mountains

Prairie meeting Mountains

In Glacier National Park, water drains not just to the Atlantic, but also to the Pacific AND Hudson Bay.   In fact, there is one peak, where a drop of water dropped on the exact top, can find itself split into three smaller drops, one going to each of these great bodies of water.  Quite Crazy. 

West Glacier

West Glacier

Once we reached this side of the park, we found the campground we had been told would be opening today to still be closed.  Once again we started to get a bit nervous.  We doubled back and headed towards the St. Mary campground instead.  This campground was supposed to open May 22nd, however we quickly discovered that they were still operating in “primitive” mode.  This meant they were open, but the restrooms were not open (thankfully one pit toilet was open) and the water was not turned on.  This was not too big of a problem for us as we had a water purifier with us.  We settled in for the evening and enjoyed a spectacular sunset.

Campsite

Campsite

Sunset at St. Mary Campground

Sunset at St. Mary Campground

Journey to Glacier

10:28 pm

Day 11 – Journey to Glacier.

Sunset at Yellowstone

Sunset at Yellowstone

 

Today we left Yellowstone National Park and drove to Glacier National Park. Although we were sad to leave the wildlife, we were still greeted by a herd of buffalo blocking the road on the way out. The trip was about eight hours – we traveled to the Apgar Campground beside Lake McDonald.

Just a quick update on the trip. Total miles to date: 4521. Total amazing views: Too many to count. Total days without a shower: 5.

On the way, we were treated to some amazing views leaving Yellowstone… we also passed an area where we think some people saw a bear, but it was gone by the time we arrived. The actual journey itself was rather uneventful… other than a few notable exceptions.

Buffalo!

Buffalo!

 

The single largest exception was lunch. We stopped at Famous Dave’s at Ben’s suggestion. Although we were first a little intimidated by the prices (it was a higher end restaurant for us poor college boys) we decided to buy the special combo ribs plate for $30 dollars.

The waiter brought a MASSIVE set of ribs with French fries… they were so big that the meal had to arrive on a plate over two feet in diameter. (actually, it was an inverted trashcan lid which was kind of cool) The ribs alone weighed at least five pounds… French fries also weighed two pounds. These ribs were not from just a skinny demented type of cow either… no, these were full rib tips with huge slabs of meat hanging off the side. We fought the good fight for a little over an hour before we gave up trying to eat it all. (We still had about two pounds left for a future day.) Combined with the sauces provided, this was a glorious meal that will be remembered for years to come.

Lots of Wings

Lots of Wings

 

Anyways, besides that lunch (which was amazing btw) our trip was quiet. We stole some internet from the parking lot of resturant. We also picked up some groceries and got to listen to the Montana accent (which was Matt and Ben’s favorite so far).

Once we arrived at Glacier we were pleasantly surprised to find the camping area pretty much empty with plenty of choice spots available. We were able to get a nice little spot not too far from the lake next to some campers from Mississippi (which was one of the license plates that we needed). After setting up camp we decided to go watch the sunset at the lake.

Sunset over the Lake

Sunset over the Lake

 

 Hope you guys are doing great! – The Lost Boys