Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Glacier National Park - West Side Story

Avalanche Lake

Roger here...  How many favorite national parks can one have?  It is getting crowded at the top.  Glacier National Park has to be a contender.

We are spending seven nights on the west side of Glacier National Park near the hamlet of Hungry Horse, Montana.  We will be spending a nearly equal amount of time on the east side in about a month after a visit to the Canadian Rockies.

Our heavily-wooded pull-through campsite at Mountain Meadows RV Park and Cabins is perfect.  We posted the view from our front window in the previous blog entry.

Our dogs like it here as well.  Lots of alpine smells, and a fenced dog park for running, chasing and catching a tennis ball.  We are only nine miles from the west entrance to the national park.


Our first full day was overcast and somewhat chilly.  We knew that the weather should be better in the next days, so we took advantage of the gray weather to check out Hungry Horse and go to the National Park Visitor Center (what hikes should we do?).  Hungry Horse has everything we need (grocery, post office, gas station, etc.), but the highlight was the Huckleberry Patch where we both had huckleberry pie a la mode.  Yum!  We went back another day to have scoops of huckleberry ice cream.  BTW:  We can actually pick huckleberries at our campsite.  

From the Apgar Visitor Center (on the west side of the national park) it was a half-mile paved walk to the village of Apgar on Lake McDonald.  After the park ranger gave us excellent suggestions for activities during our stay (since it was not raining), we walked to the village and the lake.

Lake McDonald
We took a picture of the pebbles under the water at the beach.  The clear water and the colorful pebbles reminded us of our time at Lake Superior.


Avalanche Creek
We made a late start to the day.  Since we were not sure of the weather or finding a parking space at a trailhead, we decided to pack hiking gear (just in case), and drive up to Logan Pass.  We did not make it to Logan Pass.  When we arrived at the Avalanche Lake/Trail of the Cedars Trailhead (well after the 10:00 a.m. time that the park ranger told us the parking lot would be full), the parking lot was full.  

We drove through the lot two times without finding a spot and decided to drive on up to Logan Pass.  THEN, a car backed out, a nice lady waved, and we were golden.  The board-walked Trail of the Cedars was our introduction to our 4.5 mile trek, an easy half-mile stroll that led us to the trailhead for the two mile trail to Avalanche Lake.  We were soon rewarded with this:

The water really WAS that color!

Most of the trail was uphill -- gently uphill, but uphill nonetheless. Dianne was not complaining about the continual effort, so life was good.  It continued to be good.

We walked up through dense forests. The downed trees (not so prevalent in this photo) were evidence of the avalanche responsible for the naming of this entire area.

Dianne stopped to take a picture of this green and mauve colored rock that is representative of the rocks in this area.  She took the picture because it was representative, and because she wanted to take it home but knew she couldn't :-).  

A steeper ascent up to a shelf rewarded us with this view.  Wow!  Five waterfalls (four visible in this photo) cascaded into the green hues of Avalanche Lake.

Can you spot the four waterfalls reflected in the lake?

Sometimes, when I re-look at these photos, I cannot believe that we have been so blessed to actually see these sights.

The walk back was not without its highlights.  When we returned to the boardwalk Trail of the Cedars and crossed a bridge over Avalanche Creek we were rewarded with this view --- fresh pine-scented air, temps in the 70s, sunny skies, roaring water, turquoise and white surrounded by green trees and moss, what could be better?

The moss on the rocks reminded me that we were in the far eastern reaches of areas of the Pacific Rain Forest.  Dianne and I reminisced about the Hoh Rain Forest and a magical time with our daughter and granddaughter on the Olympic Peninsula.


On the third day, we did what we intended to do on the second day.  The weather looked iffy, but not horrible, so off we went on a car trip to Logan Pass.  You need to understand that this was a gray, cloudy day (for the most part), but the vistas we were in awe of were spectacular.  We ascended into the clouds...

... and looked down below as we drove up the twisty, narrow, rocky 
Going-to-the-Sun Road.  At first, we did not comprehend why vehicles could not be longer than 21 feet --- then we did.

Before driving into the clouds, the green, purple, black and white vistas were spectacular.

We may have received a free car wash at the weeping wall.

We must be getting closer to the clouds....

.... Yep!

Is that snow?  Are we going to drive out of this?  It is getting difficult to see the double yellow line.  This can't be good.

Dianne was quietly pressing me to turn around.   I would have, but I literally could not find a place to do so.  Then, the fog lifted.

We found a parking spot (after a patient wait) at the Logan Visitor Center.  The fog seemed to be lifting in all directions.  Karma.  (Dianne here:  the Logan visitor's center at the Continental Divide was wall-to-wall people inside, full of folks who drove up from the east side of the national park as well as others, like us, who drove up from the west side.   I managed to squeeze through the crowd to get my National Park passport book stamped, then we beat a hasty retreat back outdoors.)

We checked out two trail heads that we might visit tomorrow on a sunnier day, and spent a few minutes with this friendly guy.

Dianne stepped in her first snow along a paved trail.

On the return trip, as the sun melted the fog,  previously hidden sights awaited us. Waterfalls abounded from every direction.

We intend to return to Logan Pass tomorrow, weather permitting, to do one or two hikes at the top of the mountains.  We are hoping that the forecast for clear weather holds true. 

The pet pictures of the day...

Big Chuck Enjoying Outdoor Time at the Campsite

Tequila says, "Get ready, Boy!  I'm making a right angle turn, and will soon have your tennis ball."


Diane and Rich said...

beautiful pictures. thanks for sharing.

heyduke50 said...

well you are at my favorite National Park now... we hope to be there in 3-4 weeks ourselves...