Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Glacier - St. Mary and Many Glacier

On the way to St. Mary, we visited the Museum of the Plains Indian in a town called Browning. The museum was small but had fascinating exhibits on the Plains Indians culture, religion, dress, migrations, and so on. We saw some really neat jewelry made out of grizzly bear teeth and claws.

Back on the road, we drove through a burn zone where we saw a cow moose and a calf.

Once we re-entered the park, we were on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier’s famous 50-mile road that crosses the park from east to west. Usually, the road is open by mid-June, but this was no ordinary year. Due to the heavy snow in the winter and avalanches that continued into the spring, the road wasn’t open yet. But we were still able to drive partway in, so we did.

After stopping at the ranger station, we headed to a picnic area for lunch and found several deer wandering around in the woods nearby.

Refueled, we stopped at the most photographed location in Glacier – Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake.

Then we stopped at an overlook for Sun Point, which would have been better named Blow-You-Over Point. The wind was the strongest we’ve faced on our entire trip – even stronger than the wind in Boulder, Utah, that blew our tent away.

Next up was a short hike through the Sunrift Gorge.

The trail led out to Baring Falls.

And, like the good tourists we are, we had to take each other’s photos.

Just as interesting as the falls was the pattern of divots in the bark of some of the trees right by the falls.

After we hiked back to the car, we drove just a little ways further down the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the trailhead for St. Mary Falls. This was a bit longer hike to a fantastic two-section waterfall.

Finally, we drove out to the Jackson Glacier Overlook, which was where the road was closed. Jackson Glacier is one of only 18 remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park, and within a few decades, scientists expect that even those remaining 18 will be gone. This early in the summer, we couldn’t really see the glacier itself – it was covered by fresh snow from this past winter that hadn’t melted off yet.

Having seen the sights on the section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road that was accessible from St. Mary, we drove back to town and checked into our accommodations – a cabin with a gorgeous view of the lake. This one even had two beds, so for two nights, we would get to sleep in a queen-sized bed, rather than in our tent. What a treat!

We went to the Cattle Baron Supper Club for huge, tasty steaks, and then drove to the Rising Sun campground for a Jack Gladstone performance. On the way, we passed a black bear right at the side of the road, and none of us had brought our cameras!

Jack Gladstone is a Blackfeet Indian who tells stories, sings, and plays guitar. He was really a great performer and had the crowd singing along, as well as making animal noises and motions to go with the music. It was a fun performance.

We got back to the cabin in time for a pretty sunset.

The next day, we headed up to Many Glacier, a bit north of St. Mary. On the way, we saw some bighorn sheep up on the rocks next to the road, as well as right on the road.

We drove to the Many Glacier Lodge, beautifully situated on Swiftcurrent Lake.

And what did we see, but more bighorn sheep!

As we got ready to start a hike, a group of them came right toward us.

We hiked along Swiftcurrent Lake, and on the way, we found a cow moose.

The cow didn’t seem bothered by us, but her calf was in the shadows behind her and seemed a bit skittish.

Then we continued hiking up to Lake Josephine, which had some pretty waterfalls right at the end.

The hike would have continued up to Grinnell Lake, but we decided that the end of Lake Josephine was far enough for us, so we looped back. On the way back, we crossed a bridge between the two lakes and took more silly tourist photos.

From the bridge, we saw a lone kayaker on Swiftcurrent Lake.

Back at our cozy cabin once again, we decided that huckleberry pie would make a great dinner. Unfortunately, when we went to the bakery, we found out that huckleberries weren’t in season yet, so we had to settle for razzleberry instead – a mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. We bought a whole pie, fresh out of the oven.

Then we got a pint of huckleberry ice cream to top it off. Then we went back to our cabin, cracked open a bottle of white wine, and had a delicious dinner of a quarter pie each, topped with a half cup of ice cream, and washed down with white wine. Now that’s the life!

The next day, we would head to Waterton National Park in Canada!

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