Friday, July 30, 2010

Along the Way

Heading to the next stop on the Lewis and Clark Circuit are a couple of things worth seeing. On the south side of Glacier is the Izaac Walton Inn. Built to house train crews on the Great Northern Railway, it now caters to tourists/train lovers looking for a unique place to stay between the two sides of the park.

It's furnished with vintage furniture, train memorabilia, and old photographs.

In addition to the inn, there are cabooses you can stay in. On a hill overlooking the train tracks, they offer excellent train watching. Don't know how much sleep you'll get, though.

The insides look a lot like the inside of an RV. The difference is that these go for $230 a night with a 2-night minimum.

Or you can stay in the Great Northern 441 luxury locomotive. All for the low, low price of $299 a night, also with a 2-night minimum.

There is a bridge going over the tracks to the cabins and cabooses where you can get good shots of trains. This one went by before I could get up there.

Farther south, in the tiny town of St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation is the St. Ingatius Mission. Established by Jesuit missionaries in 1854, the current church was built in 1891. It's pretty impressive, but the real surprise is inside.

There are 58 beautiful dry-fresco paintings, done around 1900.

Amazingly, they were painted by the mission cook!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Other Hikes in Glacier

The day after the hike to the glacier, we went back to the Many Glacier section of the park and went on a short hike to Red Rock Lake and Red Rock Falls.

Sometimes there are moose in the lake, but all I saw was a deer.

Another day, we went back up to Logan Pass in the middle of the park. Behind the Visitors Center at the pass is a hike to Hidden Lake, but according to the VC, the trail was 93% snow covered. But where snow is receding, glacial lilies appear.

Since I wasn't keen on any more hiking in the snow, we went across the street to the Highline Trail. This is one of my favorites - it's carved on the side of a mountain.

I like any hike that gives you a clear view of the scenery, and this one is terrific!

There was more beargrass.

Goat? What goat?

Oh - hi! I took about a hundred pictures.

The mountain goats here pretty much ignore you. One time I turned around and there were 2 following me on the trail!

Say cheese!

This guy was back close to the Visitors Center. He must be younger because he didn't have all the long hair hanging off of him.

When I was here 4 years ago, I did the hike to Iceberg Lake. There's a lot of grizzly bear activity in that area and sure enough.... To read about my adventure that day, click here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Touring Around Glacier NP

The Going-to-the-Sun Road, which goes from one side of the park to the other, is being redone in a multi-year project. Parts of it were seriously worn and falling off the side of the mountain.

This means that several parts of the road are one-lane, and require waits of up to 20 minutes. To help alleviate the congestion, the park has optional free buses. So one day we took one over to the "other side" - the West side of the park.

We were looking for wildlife along the way, and found the first one in the St. Mary Visitor Center parking lot where we got on the bus. An osprey couple has 3 babies in a nest on a platform. This is one of the babies.

One of the prettiest views right along the road is Wild Goose Island in Saint Mary Lake.

Jackson Glacier is visible from the road without any need for a hike. It's mostly under snow at this time of the year, but you can see some ice in the center of the picture.

Whoa! A bighorn sheep right by the road. This is real "drive-by shooting."

Once we got to the other side of the park, we got off at Lake McDonald Lodge and got a shot of Lake McDonald.

And we stopped for some pizza. There were a lot of little ground squirrels outside the pizza place and they would do just about anything for some pizza crust.

Uh-oh... Tummy ache...

Then back on the bus where we saw our best wildlife of the day - a cute little black bear eating berries. Can you see him? His two ears are the most visible at to top right.

While on the East side of Glacier, we stayed in St. Mary Campground. Nice big spaces, but no hookups.

While there, we saw more wildlife - lots of these...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

WHAT Was I Thinking?

I'm taking a little break from the Lewis and Clark circuit and spending some time on the east side of Glacier National Park. The main reason I'm here is that I've always wanted to hike up to Grinnell Glacier. It's normally an 11-mile round trip hike with a 1600-foot elevation gain.

However, you can cut several miles off that length by taking 2 boat rides across 2 lakes. The boats leave from Many Glacier Hotel. This is a shot of us getting on the 2nd boat at Lake Josephine.

Once you get off the second boat (the arrow is pointing to the dock), you hike around the end of the lake, over the little bridge, and then start climbing. (And climbing, and climbing...)

Our goal is behind that first mountain, somewhere near the red arrow.

The scenery was probably the prettiest I've ever seen, and wildflowers of all kinds were everywhere.

This is my favorite - called Beargrass.

And why is it called Beargrass? Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen in 1806 and called it beargrass, but no one knows why. Deer, elk, and bighorn sheep savor the flowers, but bears don't. (See - I managed to get in a Lewis and Clark reference!)

At one point on the trail, you have to walk through a waterfall.

This cute little hoary marmot was working the waterfall, posing perfectly above Grinnell Lake.

Then, he came over and sat down beside me. Whoa! Look at those teeth!

Funny, I didn't see him on the way down. I guess he knows nobody has any food left then...

The trail went on and on and on, and I started wondering "What was I thinking?" Near the top, a lot of the trail was covered by snow.

Here the trail had to be marked with little red flags.

But finally, I made it! It was difficult to tell exactly where the glacier was. It appeared to be under a frozen lake and may be easier to see later in the season.

Anyway, I got there, was happy, and it was all downhill from here. This shows the whole glacier, 5 pictures put together. If you want to see it, you better hurry up. All the glaciers in the park are expected to be gone by 2030, only 20 years from now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great Falls, Montana

Great Falls is another wonderful Montana town that would be nice to live in if it didn't get so cold in the winter. While the WINs were there, the Charles Russell Museum put on a festival called "Saddles & Spurs." There was free music -

And free activities for future cowboys -

And cowgirls.

Even free food!

We toured the cabin where Charles Russell painted the huge painting that hangs in the Capitol in Helena. That chair doesn't look very comfortable...

Oh good - he had another chair to sit in while painting.

The Russell Museum was filled with his beautiful works.

Lewis and Clark passed through here in June 1805. The previous winter, the Indians had told them about a waterfall on the Missouri River, and that it would require a day's portage. But Lewis discovered that there were actually 5 waterfalls!

This is the first falls he came to that day - the Great Falls. They have since been dammed, but the original falls are preserved.

Two of the other falls have been dammed the same way, one has been buried, and one, Crooked Falls, (shown here) is in its original state.

Instead of a short portage, the 5 falls required a very difficult 18-mile portage, They built wheels and axles for the canoes, but it required 8 difficult trips across rugged hilly terrain to move all the canoes and supplies.

Great Falls has a really nice Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Inside, from the first floor to the second, is a full-size model of the portage. It was very exact, even including some prickly-pear cactus that tore through the men's moccasins.

I was wondering why one guy only had pants on and another only had a shirt. Hmmmmm...

Of course I had to investigate!