June 9th- June 23rd, 2018
Montana! I’m in Love! As soon as we crossed the border I fell in love, literally. If there wasn’t snow on the ground 7 months of the year, I’d live here!
I see why you are nicknamed Big Sky Country. The pictures don’t do it justice.
Apparently, huckleberries grow everywhere here because they put them in everything! We stopped for gas and just had to have a huckleberry lemonade for lunch- YUMMY! They are the slightly darker than a blueberry but are round balls, like a chokecherry.
We stayed at Columbia Falls RV Park in Columbia Falls, MT. It’s about 20 minutes from the west entrance to Glacier National Park and 1.5 hours to the east entrance. It was a nice park; the staff is friendly, there is a playground/baseball field one block away and we love the landscape.
Off roading trial
The only Jeep Badge of Honor trail in Montana is in the Flathead National Forest. It’s called the Black Tail Wild Bill Trail. The girls and I packed our lunch and headed out for an adventure on Wednesday. I have now earned two badges! The girls have their junior ranger badges and I have my Jeep badges of honor! This was a fun trail; narrow, rocky, quiet and challenging at times. We were hoping to see a bear but no such luck. Take a close look at the trailhead sign, we think it look like a bear claw scratch.
On the way home from the trail ride we stopped at this park.
On the drive to the east entrance there is a small town, here you can find the world’s largest PURPLE spoon (maybe). Important landmarks!
On the way home from the park we stopped here again but this time for dinner. We ate at the Whistle Stop Restaurant. Good bbq. They were out of the huckleberry pie:(
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is considered the Crown of the Continent. Glacier is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay.
This park is a; National Park, a World Heritage Site, and even a World Biosphere Reserve. But the most unique honor, is that it is the first ever International Peace Park. In 1932, Glacier (U.S.) and Waterton Lakes (Canada) National Parks partnered together to embody an idea of peace as well as persevere and protect. It’s actually called the Waterton-Glacier International Park.
There are two entrances; east (Apgar) and west (St. Mary), each with their own visitor’s center. There is a third visitors center, Logan’s Pass, in the middle of the Going to the Sun road. We stayed near the west entrance and had planned to enter that entrance and drive the ‘Going to the Sun’ road to the east entrance. We checked out the Apgar visitors center to learn about the park, glaciers and wildlife found here. We also picked up the ranger books and a trail map. The ranger informed us that they had not finished plowing and repairing the guardrails so we could not drive the famous road. The closest we could go on the west side was to Avalanche Lake trailhead. We were disappointed but have learned through our travels that we can’t control the weather and we can’t visit everywhere during the ‘best time of year’ so we turned our frowns upside down and set out to hike that trial. It’s a 5.7 mile hike there and back with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. It starts on the Trail of Cedars. Boy are we glad we planned ahead and packed our winter gear even though it was sunny and 70 this morning at home (home is where you park it).
As soon as we parked and started to get our picnic lunch out of the car and a hail storm broke out.
We ate our lunch in the Jeep and waited for it to stop before we ventured out. Notice the hail in the middle of the plant?
This was on the water we hiked next to for most the the trail. It was quite a site to see that trees broken down about half way on the trial. The trees were lying flat towards the upward slope which is not the case if they had been mowed down by an avalanche. We asked about it at the visitors center when we returned for the Jr ranger badges. They were crushed from the micro burst as the avalanche came to a holt at the bottom of the neighboring mountain. The forces of nature are fascinating to me.
We had one ‘Hail’ of a hike all the way to Avalanche Lake. Seriously, it hailed on us one more time. We saw Sperry Glacier from this vantage point. Even though we were soaked and our butts were frozen when we got back, it was well worth it.
In this video you can see all that is left of Sperry Glacier. It created Avalanche Lake. Notice the classic U-shaped feature. Like any other form of water, glaciers follow the most direct course downward. The freeze/re-freeze glacial conveyor belt scours valleys into a U-shape, broad at the bases and sheer on the sides. The result (when the glacier is gone) is awesome lakes.
We did go into the lodge at Lake McDonald and warm up by the fire.
The current glaciers in the park are estimated to be at least 7,000 years old and peaked in size in the mid-1800s, during the Little Ice Age. Millions of years before that, during a major glacial period known as the Pleistocene Epoch, enough ice covered the Northern Hemisphere, ice was a mile deep. The Pleistocene Epoch ended around 12,000 years ago.
There are only 25 glaciers remaining in glacier national park. Under current trends of global temperature increase, glaciers here and around the world are rapidly melting. Glacier recession models predict that by 2030, Glacier National Park will be without glaciers. That’s what we had read, but the ranger informed us that they actually just told them that they are now predicting that they’ll be gone in 15 years because the rate has increased. If you plan to visit, visit in mid- July to be sure you can drive the “Going to the Sun’ road and go with in the next few years!
We went out to the east side one evening when Chris got down with work.
Junior rangers earning another badge. We learned that this is the first park to have a “Bark ranger”. Yes, they have a dog at Logan’s Pass that keeps the wildlife from wondering into the parking lot. Ask about Gracie when you visit.
Finally! We saw a black bear as we were driving back from the east entrance. I was so thrilled. Of course my camera was still messed up from the getting wet on the whale watching tour in Alaska so all we had were our phones and it was dark so the picture isn’t that great.
Chris has to fly out of here (little airport in Kalispell. MT) to Cedar Rapids for their annual awards banquet and he surprised us with tickets to fly home to visit friends and family for 9 days!! Check out our next post to see all the fun we have in Georgia!
When we fly back we will drive to Dillon, MT for an overnight as we head to Twin Falls, ID.