August 2-3 (Glacier National Park)

Tuesday was our last day with the bike tour.  It was a rest day for riders, so we spent the morning and early afternoon helping Mike organize his equipment, set up his tent, and do some supply shopping. 



The velo tour attracted attention in Missoula.  The newspaper put them on the front page and included a special feature. 



The girls help Mike set up his tent


It was a three hour drive to Glacier National Park.  Julia entertained us by reading the Bear Safety brochure we’d picked up in Missoula.  The brochure said practicing bear safety procedures and “bear avoidance behaviors” could help “lessen the length and severity of maulings.”  Nice.  We left Missoula around 4 pm and reached the west entrance of the park just in time to see a “bearjam” (cars pulled over looking at a small black bear walking along the road).  In the spirit of bear avoidance strategies, we watched the bear long enough to confirm it was, indeed, a bear, and then moved a few miles down the road and set up at the Fish Creek Campground.  We could see a lake through the trees, so we packed up our dinner and ate along the shore.   


Chicken, chips, and peaches for dinner



Lake McDonald



Skipping stones (I love the swirly mist over the lake!)

We were on the road again by 8 am and moved to the east park entrance.  It is only 50 mile drive (done in 90 minutes) if you drive straight across, but that would mean driving the Going to the Sun Road and following vehicle length restrictions.  We still wanted to drive the road, but we needed to drop the camper first.  I give Julia a lot of credit for this morning.  She ate something that didn’t agree with her and was up sick most of the night (but thanks to Mike charging the camper batteries, we had running water and a working bathroom to make the night easier).  In the morning, though, she got dressed, grabbed the camper wastebasket “just in case,” and was ready to go. 


The Two Medicine area of the park.  We had to follow Hwy 2 around the south end to reach St. Mary/East Glacier.  Compared to going straight across the Going to the Sun Road, this added 30 miles to the trip but only added 20 or so minutes. 



Our KOA was just down the road from the east entrance. 


We had an evening tour scheduled on the old 1930’s red bus/car system.  The tour left from the KOA, so we asked the camp desk what we should see before the tour.  The woman told us she was very familiar with our tour and recommended we spend the afternoon seeing the Going to the Sun Road because our tour would take us to the Many Glacier area but may not get all the way down the road depending on time.  As it turned out, the tour did a large portion of the road and never got us to Many Glacier, so we should have spent the afternoon over there.  In the end, we did a quick drive down the road alone and then enjoyed the tour because we got to hear stories and information about what we’d seen.  It worked, but I shouldn’t have trusted the KOA to give me good tour information. 



We intended to use GNP’s trolley system to travel the Going to the Sun Road, but Julia had a sudden bloody nose while we were waiting (altitude?).  We decided it would be better to have our own vehicle, so we drove the truck.  Fortunately, Julia didn’t have any more problems, and we enjoyed stopping at the lookouts.



St Mary’s Lake (Wild Goose Island in the background)


Our tour guide later told us this tree has looked exactly like this since he visited the park with his family in 1970. 





Driving the Going to the Sun Road near the Continental Divide



Waterfall near Sunrift Gorge





Jackson Glacier



The sign says the glaciers will disappear by 2030, but this week’s news report says 2020. 







Logan Pass was as far as we drove



Waiting for our evening tour



Our tour in one of the actual red tour vehicles used in the 1930’s.  They were recently sent to Detroit for a complete system overhaul.  In an innovation done by Ford, the red busses are now fueled by propane. 



After exploring Logan Pass, the girls return to our red bus tour. 



A mountain goat wanders through the Logan Pass parking lot



Logan Pass





In my original plan, we wanted to spend the next morning (Thursday) taking a hike to Grinnell Glacier (a hike that begins in the Many Glacier area).  That ranger-led hike, however, was currently shut down due to bear activity.  Deciding we weren’t crazy about hiking somewhere the rangers wouldn’t go, we skipped it to get started with our drive home.  It would have been nice to get on some of the trails, though.  Glacier is a massive park, and our quick drive just allowed us a small peek.  Note:  We learned later a man was mauled by a grizzly on Friday when he surprised a mother/cub somewhere in the Many Glacier area.  That made us feel very satisfied we’d made a good decision about saving the Many Glacier hike for another time. 



Returning to the KOA.  Clear skies meant a beautiful view of the stars.

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