The next morning, in Bozeman, we decided to take the plunge and pony up for a new, smaller cooler. What sealed the deal was the guy ahead of us in the checkout line saying, "Oh man you're gonna love that cooler – we got one earlier in the summer and it's great." We took a side trip to REI, only to decide that we most certainly had everything we needed.
We headed north to Glacier National Park, the park that Ben and I were looking forward to the most. It was almost a five hour drive to the east end of Glacier - a boring drive, miles and miles of beige hills and not many other cars in site. We did however, see an awful lot of PSA's urging people to not try meth which, based on the topography, I can imagine boredom is a huge problem in that area. We passed through the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. We had decided that staying over at a southern campground would make the most sense since we would be getting into the area on the later side of the day. We pulled into Bent Creek Campground with only two sites remaining...phew.
|Our first sight upon entering the park.|
The next morning we packed up and headed to the Rising Sun area as Many Glacier was already full by 8:00am. We picked out our site for the next two days. Our campsite was surrounded by hedges of huckleberry bushes still pretty full with berries. The campsite host let us know that the bears liked to come off the mountain and feast on the berries in the campground, but also let us know that only we could make them behave. The weather forecast looked the best for that day so we headed up to the Many Glacier area of the park. The Many Glacier area is likely the nicest part of the park. We had previously read a comment on TripAdvisor on how to get a campsite in the Many Glacier area but it involved stalking the current campers at 6:30am and slipping your registration card behind theirs if they were checked out. Since Ben and I aren't that type we skipped the crazy business altogether and just enjoyed the Many Glaciers Area without camping in that part of the park.
|The top the Many Glacier Hotel.|
|The bystanders thought we were quite silly trying to get this shot.|
|The view of the hotel from the boat.|
We had watched a few episodes of "Aerial America" on the Smithsonian Channel and wanted to check out the Many Glaciers Hotel. Back in 1915 the hotel was completed; it was one of two lodges in the park. The owner of the Great Northern Railroad Company saw an opportunity to make a pile of money by marketing Glacier Nation Park as the "Swiss Alps of America" and having travelers take his railroad, stay at his hotels, or take a stage coach to his chalets. We wanted to do something a little special at Glacier so we found out about a boat tour across the lake at Many Glacier. Unfortunately the company recommends reservations four days in advance. We put our names on the list for the waiting list and had a picnic lunch on a hill overlooking the lake and the hotel. We decided that a mid-day beer was in order and we found a log down near the lake to enjoy it at. We went to the boat dock and much to our surprise got on the boat at the time we wanted without a problem.
|Our hike to Grinnell Lake.|
|A beautiful tri-color rock stack.|
|Grinnell Glacier - one of 26 glaciers left in the park.|
The boat took us across one lake then got out to hike over a hill and onto another boat and across a second lake. After that we had a guide who pointed out the berries we could eat and told us little facts about the park, then we were free to hike and explore on our own. We hiked with her on the way out then split off in hopes to make an earlier boat back to the hotel. On the way to Grinnell Lake we crossed a very questionable suspension bridge, which part of the entertainment was watching people be positively terrified of crossing the bridge. It was kinda fun and bouncy – it made us feel like pirates! The park is beautiful - the aqua water is from the glaciers melting and bringing the sediment down into the lake. We missed the early boat back but got to see an amazing storm blow in. We got off the boat just in time to snap a picture of the storm in the mountain, then sprinted back to the car before it started pouring.
|The storm approaching...|
|We took this one last picture and sprinted to the car.|
|The trail to Hidden Lake.|
|A marmot that reminded us of Mirabelle, a Marmot-abelle perhaps?|
|The fog rolled in a few times on our hike.|
|Beautiful wildflowers along the trail.|
|The vistas along the Hidden Lake Trail.|
|A family of mountain goats.|
|The other side of Hidden Lake.|
|More wildflowers along the way.|
|Not entirely sure this is a flower, but I'm sure Dr. Seuss was inspired by these. It almost makes you want to add googly eyes...|
After that hike we took the bus back to Sayeh Pass to hike a part of the Gunsight trail. Ben and I have a rather famous way of taking the path less traveled, and this trail was no different – we later found out it was mostly used as a horse trail. The trail was mostly overgrown and very narrow at times; peaceful and beautiful for the most part. That was until we found some bear poop and other signs of a bear scratching himself/herself on a rock and leaving a pile of fur. After that we picked up the pace.
|At the start of a path less traveled.|
|St Mary's Falls.|
|The bottom of the falls.|
|Two kayakers on the top of the waterfall.|
|Old buddies jumping into the chilly water.|
|Cub and Momma Bear having dinner.|
We dove the rest of the Going to the Sun Road back to the west side of the park and stopped at the Weeping Wall, Three Arches and stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge, but for the most part were very happy we had spent most of our time on the east side of the park. After that we headed west to Spokane, Washington.
|Gratuitous Subaru photo.|
|Ben and the GoPro documenting the trip.|
|A Jammer giving a tour of the park.|
|Wildflowers on the east side of the park.|
|Bright aqua water from the sediment being pulled from the melting glaciers.|