Monday, September 9, 2002

Traveling from Cut Bank to Glacier National Park, we crossed the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, stopping briefly at Camp Disappointment near Browning, Montana, the farthest point north reached by the Lewis and Clark expedition.

On the Blackfeet Reservation

Glacier National Park is sometimes called the "Crown of the Continent," as if Canada was just perhaps a figment of our collective imagination. Glacier is the United States side of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a 1,800-square-mile, glacier-carved wilderness of mountain lakes, glaciers, forests, streams, and wildlife.

Many Glacier area, Glacier National Park

Immediately upon entering the park in the Many Glacier area, two black bears ambled across the road in front of us. Woo-hoo! Maybe since Glacier has fewer visitors, we'll see even more animals here than we did at Yellowstone!

After yesterday's marathon driving session, we were ready for some hiking. Glacier-Waterton is home to approximately 700 black bears, 300 grizzlies, 40 wolves, and an unknown number of mountain lions. The national park literature recommends making noise while you hike so you don't surprise the bears, that they'll "usually" move out of the way if they hear you approaching, so we dutifully clapped our hands and shouted "hey, bear" as we hiked. Did we feel silly? Of course. But we did it anyway.

A 1.1-mile (each way), steep hike took us to Apikuni Falls. No one else was around. Awesome! It seems all you have to do to get away from people in most national parks is hike about 100 yards from your car.

Apikuni Falls

The 2.6-mile Swiftcurrent Nature Trail led us around the Swiftcurrent Lake and provided great views of some glaciers. We saw fresh bear poo on the trail!

On our hike

Swiftcurrent Lake

We left the Many Glacier area and re-entered the park at the main eastern entrance, St. Mary, where we picked up Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 52-mile winding road through the center of the park opened in 1933, after 20 years of construction. It is an engineering marvel and no doubt one of the most scenic roads in the world!

Going-to-the-Sun Mountain

Going-to-the-Sun Road

The road follows along the shoreline of the park's two largest lakes, St. Mary Lake and Lake McDonald, and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, elevation 6,646 feet. We stopped at nearly every turnout and scrambled around on the rocks, taking photos. Fabulous!

More gorgeous scenery

The waterfall goes under the road!

Near Logan Pass a silly-looking mountain goat was licking up someone's spilled drink in a parking area.

Goats will eat anything

"Danger - Unstable Snow. Keep Away."

Shortly before leaving the park, we saw a rustling in the trees off to the right, and I slowed to a stop. Tom rolled down his window to get a photo of whatever might be there, when the branches moved again to reveal the biggest black bear either of us had ever seen - and startlingly close, I might add. It was just munching on berries and not paying any attention to us, thankfully.

We're staying the next couple of nights in Whitefish, Montana, just west of Glacier, at Allen's Motel. Our room is a pre-fab structure with a fridge and microwave, and there's somewhat of an odor about it, but, hey, the price is right.

Tonight we scored an excellent Mexican dinner at Dos Amigos, especially great after requesting hotter salsa.

A very reasonable 111 miles today.

 

Continue to Day 8

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