Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014: Glacier National Park Trip (Part II)

What the morning of the third day looked like from our campsite

(Continued from previous post)

Day 3:  Glacier National Park
This trip was bittersweet for me for many reasons.  One reason was that my second son had to work and was not able to be with us so I thought about him the whole time.  It was bitter because he wasn't able to be with us but sweet because he is taking his responsibility as a man seriously.  Another reason was that my oldest son had been gone for two years serving a mission for our church and had recently returned.  This trip was for him.  He had been gone for two years, then he was home for three weeks and now he is gone again to Philadelphia to work until school starts in the fall.  Parents can't keep them little forever.  There's a little pride in watching them grow up well but a little sadness too when they don't need you so much anymore.  Another reason was that my oldest daughter, her husband and their four boys couldn't be with us either.  On day two, I knew I might be in trouble as one of my bottom teeth started hurting.  By day three it was in full blown abscess.  Every thing of beauty I saw on that day was balanced by the pain of the tooth.  I alternated ibuprofen and acetaminophen throughout the day to try to dull the pain and I was able to function in that way. Like I said, bittersweet.

Day 3:  First Light
On day 2 we arrived late and found an open campsite in the Fish Creek Campground and camped.  When we awoke in the morning we discovered our campsite had been reserved for the next evening so we had to move.  We spent the morning locating a new campsite, moving, showering and getting ready for Glacier National Park.  It probably looked weird to the other campers to see a tent still set up, moving through the campground.  Each of us grabbed a corner and a pole and we moved the tent.  It was better than striking it and pitching it again.

After we had done all that, I took my daughter into West Glacier, just outside the park boundary for ice, wood and some tooth numbing agent.  On the way back to camp we saw some young bucks at the side of the road.  I think they were whitetail deer.  The younger boys decided climbing trees was the thing to do.  I guess that's what boys do.  I did.

First campsite in Fish Creek Campground

This creek was down an embankment behind our tent.  We missed the sound of running water in the next site.

Beargrass.  One of the most common wildflowers I saw in Glacier.

Heavy bark

A scab on a tree

This may be one of the many varieties of paintbrush in the west

And it's brothers

One buck

Two bucks

My son in a tree

and the other one in a tree

Colors and textures of nature

Day 3:  First Leg  All things McDonald
We camped at Fish Creek, which is a tributary to Lake McDonald, the first big lake you see in the park from the west entrance.  For the first part of the day we drove along the "Going to the Sun Road" which is a very famous road in Glacier National Park.  The first part of the road skirts along Lake McDonald and at the northeast end there is Lake McDonald Lodge.  The lodge is in a Swiss chalet style.  After that we hiked to McDonald Falls.  We saw several angles of the falls from both sides of the river.  I said river because that's what it looked like.  The real name is McDonald Creek.  We followed McDonald Creek to Avalanche Junction.

Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald is a glacial lake and the largest lake in Glacier National Park.  It is roughly ten miles long by one mile wide and 476 feet deep.  Since it is a glacial lake, I assume it is pretty cold.  All the water running into it was kind of green, but not a sickly green, more of an "I'm really cold" green.

Lake McDonald

Colorful pebbles that Lake McDonald is known for

More of Lake McDonald

Wild rose along the shores of Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge was built in 1913 in a time when railroaders were building destination resorts in scenic areas to attract rail customers.  There was no railroad here in Glacier but guests were transported to the site by steamboat from the Apgar Village.  I dunno, that sounds cooler to me than the railroad.  After the Going to the Sun Road was completed, guests started arriving at the lodge from the rear.  Now the old back door is the front door.  Still looks like a back door though.

It was done up in a Swiss Chalet style and has a rustic interior.  Charles M. Russell was a frequent visitor and left some permanent artwork which was destroyed in a flash flood in the sixties.  The interior is quite rustic and seems to be a little brother to the Old Faithful Inn.  The inn at Old Faithful is massive though and this one is small and quaint.

This is the view over the hotel

This guy was the sentry.  Keeping track of us the whole time

This guy didn't pay us any attention

Lake McDonald Lodge, back of the building, facing the street

Totem pole outside the lodge, even though the tribes in this area didn't make
totem poles

Interior of the lodge

Original rustic furniture

Golden eagle mount


My son in the lodge

Bighorn Sheep mount

Really cool, really old topographic map of the park.  Might be made of plaster

Stair detail

Exterior, walkway and stairs to the lake

Front of the building, facing the lake

Bridge over troubled waters

The fam

I like the light fixture.  That's an old pay phone

I believe this is a cinquefoil

A mountain from the parking lot at McDonald Lake Lodge

McDonald Falls Trail
As I said in the previous post, I'm a journey guy as much as I am a destination guy.  The trail to McDonald Falls was very pretty.  It was an easy hike, mostly level.  There were several people or groups of people that we encountered along the way but it was by no means a crowded hike.  From the parking lot to the falls may have been a mile, maybe less.  We made the whole loop, though so it ended up being up to two miles.  Pretty hike through shaded woods.  I commented to the Hot Chick (she's from Seattle) that it kind of felt like a rainforest.  In fact the whole time we were in Glacier it felt like a rainforest.  I'll try to keep the images to a minimum, though because there is a cooler hike coming.

Trailhead to McDonald Falls

Even the fungus is cool here

Like I said...

This boulder was left behind by the glacier that carved this valley

My boys on the glacial boulder

Alpine forget-me-nots.  One of the most common wildflowers I saw in Glacier.  I believe it was a bit early for wildflower watching.

The moss on the ground made the Hot Chick homesick for the Pacific Northwest

Starflower, I believe

Don't know this one

Another glacier boulder covered with moss



One of the mountains on the other side of the river

Evidence that I was actually on this trip

Glacial carved mountains

The brink of McDonald Falls

My son wanted a picture of the trees growing from the rocks

McDonald Falls from the other side.

The road along McDonald Creek/river
The road continued along this river until we reached Avalanche Creek.  That was where the road was open to.  Beyond that it was closed.  All along the road there were places to turn off and look at river features. Mini-waterfalls and rapids  We stopped at several.  One of them had a footbridge across the river.  There were places where the glaciers had worn the ground down to the bedrock.  It was like a really cool geology textbook opened to the chapter on glaciers.  Everything I had ever studied was there and made absolute sense.

Waterfall along the road

Glacial scoured bedrock

More exposed bedrock

Another water feature

Moss on the bedrock

My son at the bridge

Wild white roses at yet another waterfall

There were areas like this everywhere.  I thought there were a lot of waterfalls in Yellowstone.  I was wrong.

The power of the water was thunderous

Beautiful waterfall.  The water is so green/blue


I had thought I could finish this trip on one more blog post.  Turns out I was wrong.  This is not the stunning conclusion of our Glacier Trip.  That will be in part III

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