Preface Yes. I am back from my adventure. As the coming episodes of the trip are published, you will understand why you didn’t get them “real time.” And, as I post on this July 13th, I send great birthday wishes to two wonderful friends who share this day. Judy and Rick would have been great companions on this adventure. Here’s to many more years of opportunities in which to have them. Slainte!
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 • Kalispell, Montana
If there is any doubt, unless it’s a spa, ranch or self-contained destination for a workshop, seminar, or conference, I really don’t care much about hotels rooms outside of the obvious. Safe place, clean, clean, clean, no weird odors, reasonably priced–and enough aesthetics to remove any similarity to a jail cell. The Kalispell Super 8 was all these things plus a cute breakfast nook with log furniture and very, very nice staff. That said, it was a good place to shower, wash undies, and slip off to sleep after a long day, hiking, seeing, and blogging at City Brew. It was also across the street from my kid. —If this is not enough to establish that I got up early and returned relatively late, then know that especially when I’m in an exquisitely beautiful place—I am an early riser. To his credit, Thomas (who is historically a late sleeper), when asked if we could leave for Glacier National Park at 6am, indulged Mom with a painful look,some rhetoric questions about the need to leave at dawn, and a counter offer of 7am. When you are 30 minutes away and must be back around 2pm, you leave early…even if you’re not me. We left at 7.
He texted me 5 minutes before “call” time and was standing out front of the Econolodge. True. He has looked more chipper, but he did talked to me on the drive. In the “olden” days,” there was barely a word until after noon or school depending on the day.
Hwy. 2 takes you through the old Kalispell downtown and then makes a 90 degree turn heading east toward the mountains. Barely past the city limits, I could contain myself no longer. The blue shadowed mountains were still far away but breathtaking all the same. “Mom, there will be m-a-n-y more mountains,” my youngest patiently pleaded. I made mental notes about the passing pottery studio and whiskey distilleries, the cherry and huckleberry stands, and other places I might stop to more thoroughly view while Thomas was working later in the day or week.
8am Glacier National Park-Yes. Amazing.
We pulled into Glacier around 8am and drove past the West Glacier shops and into the park. No one was at the gate and we headed to the park office where we got maps and advice on the best hike for our timeframe. We found out that the best deal around is the senior pass. Lifetime free entry to National Parks for those 62 and over for only $10. Even at $25/car for a week, it is the cheapest most incredible entertainment anywhere.
Only a few miles in and we come face to face with one of the most iconic lake shots on Lake McDonald. We are giddy like children when we see the perfect reflection on the placid lake surface. Conditions are ideal. The time is right. Weather conditions are spot on. The water is so gloriously clean, you can see all the way to the rocks resting on the bottom. At that moment, it is difficult to imagine seeing more spectacular sights. But they are coming.
Thomas had mined great information from the perky park ranger and found out that the spring wildflowers had just come out. She recommended the The Trail of the Cedars as one of the most beautiful hikes in the park and a great place to see wildflowers. Apparently, a late snow two weeks ago had dumped considerable ice and snow on the park and the “Going to the Sun” road had been closed with snow removal and guard rail repair needed near Logan’s Pass. Rangers were encouraging. Park staff were working hard to have it ready for the 4th. I had planned to leave on the 3rd, so sadly figured it for a future visit.
We had been told that the road closed at Avalanche, a picnic area near Trail of Cedars. This is a regular stop for the shuttle that goes to the top when roads are good. On this day, it went as far as the loop, about a quarter to a third of the way up to Logan’s Pass. On the way to Avalanche, we drove and stopped and took pictures then drove and stopped and took pictures. Breathtaking and magical.
The Odd and Incredible World of the Loop
The shuttle to the loop arrived as if ordered and we jumped on board to get at least part way up the mountains. From the loop we took a trail around the mountain. ome of our fellow hikers were headed to Sperry Chalet, a hostel about four miles out. There were stark dead trees from fire and odd looking bear grass, tall spikes topped with little white flowers—part of the lily family. We weren’t far
out when I became engrossed in the rocks. This is nothing new. I have many. Stones from Colorado, Alaska, Vermont, Lake Superior–and now from Glacier Park. Thomas cut me off after I could not
restrain adding a slate and granite to my backpack. The beautiful 20 lbs layered piece of backpack he ended up carrying back to the shuttle. He is a good son. 20 lbs. of rock. That’s love.
The view was strange from the loop. This is part of the park that burned some years ago. Looking at the mountains through charred trunks seemed a bit austere. Still it had its own lonesome beauty. Soon we would be on the forest floor in a hobbit’s world where it would be difficult to connect these two different experiences with one place.