Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glacier National Park – Part 8

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Our destinations for today’s hike were St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls.


Virginia Falls seen from the trail at the beginning of the hike.

The trailhead is along the Going-to-the-Sun Road near the head of St Mary Lake. The first part of the hike descends through a dense forest to the St. Mary River.


Yes, there are BEARS in the area and yes we do carry our bear spray!


The trail levels off as you reach St Mary River and St Mary Falls


The falls are quite striking. Each segment is about 20 feet high.



The water at the foot of the falls.


Once it leaves St Mary Falls the trail starts up hill through the forest and along the cascade that is Virginia Creek.



Finally the trail reaches Virginia Falls, which is 80 to 100 feet tall.



We saw flora


and fauna


We also saw an American Dipper and Swainson’s Thrush, but I was unable to get a picture of either of them.

More pictures of our hike are on the slideshow

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Glacier National Park – Part 7


Our destination for today’s hike Grinnell Lake

For July 20th we picked the hike to Grinnell Lake in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park as our hike of the day. This hike begins at the Many Glacier Hotel.


Like all of the Grand Hotels in the western national parks Many Glacier Hotel was built by a railroad. The Great Northern Railroad had the hotel built between 1914 and 1917 by several hundred men in a Swiss Style on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake.

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The interior of the Many Glacier Hotel.

The hike to Grinnell Lake begins with two boat trips. One across Swiftcurrent Lake and the second one after a quarter mile “portage” across Josephine Lake.

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The scenery is magnificent during the entire trip.


Loading the boat for our trip across Josephine Lake.

Once across the two lakes our hike followed the heavily forested slop seen at the far left of the above picture.


Bear Grass in bloom along the trail.


Suspension bridge across a creek on the way to Grinnell Lake.


First view of the cascade and falls dropping into Grinnell Lake. The water comes from the Grinnell Glacier that unfortunately can not be seen from the valley floor.


Grinnell Lake has that beautiful turquoise green of the sky reflecting off of the very fine glacial dust that is suspended in the water of rivers and lakes fed by glaciers.

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Closer views of Grinnell Falls

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There is a trail to Grinnell Glacier somewhere on this slope!

After lunch at this beautiful site we started back to catch our boats.


The boat returning for us on Josephine Lake


The boat returning for us across Swiftcurrent Lake.

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A view of Many Glacier Hotel from lake level.

As you can tell from the pictures we had wonderful weather all day.

There are still more picture on the slideshow

Glacier National Park – Part 6


Wild Goose Island St Mary Lake Glacier National Park

On July 19th we did a hike from Sun Point to Baring Falls. The whole hike was along St. Mary Lake, on the east side of Glacier National Park. It was mid-70s and very windy.



We stopped along the way at a few of the pullouts to take pictures.


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We had lunch at the Sun Point Picnic area overlooking a small part of St. Mary Lake. The glacially carved lake is 10 miles long and 300 feet deep!


From Sun Point you can look east toward the foot of the lake


and west toward the head of the lake.


Flowers along the trail to Baring Falls.


Baring Falls

Many more pictures on the slideshow

Glacier National Park – Part 5

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Sunrise view out our back window

July 18th was a travel day for us around Glacier National Park, since there is no way to drive any RV through the Park. We had a beautiful 100 mile drive to St. Mary, Montana (east entrance to Glacier National Park). There are many more trails and access points on the east side of the Park. We followed Highway 2 which skirts the south boundary of the park for most of the way and crossed the Continental Divide. Along this stretch of road we had a black bear cross in front of us. In three trips to Glacier NP this is the first bear we have seen. The last 30 miles from Browning, Montana to St. Mary is a rough, curvy, and sometimes narrow road with a top speed of 40 and usually slower. The "town" has 2 RV Parks both charging $50 a night and both full. They sit on opposite ridges over looking the valley with great views in every direction. We bought diesel fuel for $2.58 before we left West Glacier and in St. Mary it is $3.29 a gallon! One of the two gas stations is charging $3.49!! Temps were high 80s but a strong wind helped it to feel cooler.

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Kathy had the following thoughts about our drive from West Glacier to St. Mary:

Traveling over the Continental Divide today, we went from evergreen forests down to the rolling hills of the eastern side of the Montana Rockies. Passing through the western part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, you see vast ranches filled with horses, cattle and wildflowers of every shade! We even saw Fireweed blooming its brilliant flowers like fuchsias, half way up their stocks! Summer is half way through according to Alaska folklore!


Due to restriction of vehicles over 21 feet long and 8 feet wide on the Going to the Sun Highway, all RV’s traveling to the eastern side of the park have to go around through Browning and enter the park at St. Mary. It was about 104 miles from West Glacier.

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We set up camp at the St. Mary KOA, just a few miles from the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park. With the great peaks of the Rockies south west of us, it is an inspiring and breath-taking view! It is a high plain river valley with mountains all around. Something about the area brings me back 200 years or so when this was a peaceful valley enjoyed by Native people called the Blackfeet. Living off the land and the buffalo hunts it must have been a thriving time. I can almost hear the wild ponies munching in the meadows while the village camp fires smolder. Even Meriwether Lewis had encounters with them during his expedition’s return from finding the Pacific.

Romantic, yes, but I bet this part of the west inspired so many artists over the years that tried to capture the essence of the Wild West in this area. There are no cities around, just wide open spaces, fresh air and the squeak of a ground squirrel sounding like a prairie dog! From our bedroom we can see the ice fields up in the high peaks. Sadly, they are the last of the glaciers of Glacier National Park, but we can enjoy the view while it lasts.

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More photos in the slideshow