Day 4: Glacier National Park Rocks

Today started off as a good news/bad news situation.  The bad news was that more snow had fallen on the area overnight.  Like 4-6”.  The good news was that this might mean we’d be the only knuckleheads out at Glacier National Park this morning.  For the record, when putting this trip together we knew we wanted to stop at Glacier NP.  Knowing it was in the mountains, we responsibly looked up the average temperatures for this time of year to make sure we weren’t off the rails for making the trip in late October.  Oh, no, no problem, the average temperatures for the past 12 years at this time have been in the mid-50s.  Until this year.  Not just this year, until the moment Jim and I set foot in this part of the state.

The Official Welcoming Committee

We were on the road by 10:15 AM and at the park entrance before 11.  The first stop was into the Park Headquarters, as the Visitor’s Center is already closed by this time of year.  The ranger loaded us up with maps, pointed out the closed roads (including Inner North Fork Drive), suggested a few hikes, and didn’t seem all that concerned to turn us loose in the woods so we weren’t concerned, either.  She also helpfully informed us that we weren’t likely to be eaten by any bears, something that can always be a concern in this neck of the woods.  Armed with the information, we were back into the car and on our way.  I wondered where our greeting committee was and sure enough, just a few yards down the road there she was.  Such a great program the National Parks have, getting  these animals to stick close to the entrance roads and welcome everyone.  It’s especially nice of them to continue making the effort for such late season stragglers like us.

There is not a lot I can say about Glacier NP that would adequately describe the beauty.  Mountains seem to surround you and at times it felt like we were going to drive straight into a wall of trees.  The snow had flocked all the evergreens and everything is just mammoth in size.  For this reason, I’m making this a (relatively) short post and am just going to let the photos do the talking.  Did I just hear a collective sigh of relief?  Ok, I will add that there is only one east-west road going through the entire one million acre park, called the Going to the Sun Road, and it runs past Lake McDonald, a huge, impressive lake.  The pass on the Going to the Sun Road is already closed for the season due to weather and roadworks but we were able to drive 16 miles into the park on that road up to the closure.  I will also add that we did two hikes, the easy John’s Lake Loop Trail (1.5 miles) and the more strenuous Avalanche Lake Trail (5 miles round trip mostly through 2-4” of freshly fallen snow).  Yup, that’s almost 7 miles of hiking in Glacier NP and we were just about the only ones out there.  Who lets a little snow slow them down?  Not us.  It was awesome, incredible, breathtaking, mind-blowing, formidable, majestic, magnificent, and any other adjective you care to add to the list.  And it sure wouldn’t suck to live here.

PS  We saw very limited wildlife today, as everyone seems to be putting themselves away for the winter.  The welcoming deer was it for animals of the 4-legged variety, but we did see a few interesting birds, including a varied thrush and a bunch of European starlings that were loitering around the road.  Enjoy!

John’s Lake, our first hike destination

A little park beauty

Driving into a wall of trees

Our reward for walking 2.5 miles uphill in the snow. Avalanche Lake, and we were there all by ourselves.

Man vs. Nature

A varied thrush

Fearless European starlings in their winter coats (I think)

A couple of livewires at Lake McDonald

Ok, the same view of Lake McDonald without the livewires. The yellow color along the sides are giant golden larch trees.

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1 Comment

  1. Pat

     /  December 23, 2012

    Sure enough. Started backwards with the last day and then moving forward I found pictures! Gorgeous. You are such a great photographer Angela.


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