Saturday, August 29, 2009

Glacier Trip day three

My morning commute to Apgar Village in Glacier NP



Sunrise on Lake McDonald



Shuttle stop



Riding shotgun on the shuttle bus



Old dock on St Mary lake



Bridge to Baring Falls



Baring Falls



Grizzly baiting on the way to St Mary Falls



Waterfall on Highline Trail



Worth a thousand words



Highline Trail with my new buddy



Bishops Cap, I think



The view above Logan Pass visitor center



Touring Glacier National Park

I had planned to spend Tuesday touring the park. It just didn't seem right to roll through such a beautiful place and not spend any time there. The park staff had suggested a few good day hikes so that was the plan for the day.

I rode the three miles back to the Park, most of it on an asphalt path through the forest and locked my bike to a tree. The Park operates a shuttle service that is free, and has stops all along the Going to the Sun road. I bought a coffee in Apgar Village and made it to the bus stop for about 7:30. I rode the shuttle to Logan Pass, the highest point on the road. The day before it was so foggy I couldn’t see anything, but today it was totally clear.

There was a handful of seniors on the bus when I got on, all up early and ready for a day in the park. Very impressive. I met a guy on the bus and we hiked together for the morning. He was originally from the area near the park, and after years living elsewhere he had moved home to retire. He has a lot of Canadian golf buddies from Lethbridge and our conversation ranged from cars to environmental issues to staying in shape to health care. For us old timers, health care is a hot topic you know.

We hiked part of the Highline Trail, one of the most popular in the park. It isn't hard to see why: the views were amazing and there were wildflowers everywhere. Apparently they have had an unusually cool and wet summer too, and it isn't normal for there to be flowers in bloom this late, it's usually too hot and dry. Recent rain had started all the little waterfalls running again, so that was pretty good timing for me.

My new friend was a great tour guide since he’d been coming to Glacier all his life. Almost twenty years older than me, he was fit enough to set a fine pace for the two of us for our three hours together. It was interesting to me that at least half of the people we saw hiking were older than me, and all looked very lean and fit. And most of the people we saw who were younger than me were more of the typical American body size. Um, not so lean or fit looking.

We saw several bighorn sheep right up close. He had a great grizzly bear story from a camping trip in the area when he was a kid. They all lived but had a pretty good scare. Apparently a grizzly has never attacked a group of three or more. But there are attacks and deaths in the park regularly. A bit sobering.

After parting ways, I headed to the east side of the park with the goal of hiking to three waterfalls. About three kilometers into that one, my legs just gave up. And I was a little spooked hiking alone after all the grizzly mauling stories I had just heard. I retreated to the shuttle and went for lunch.

I finished the day in Apgar Village on the west side of the park. There were some people playing those giant German trumpets in the park in full Alpine kit. I wandered the gift shops which made me miss my family, since that is something we have all enjoyed on holidays in other resort towns like this.

A great day and I am glad I took the day off to see a bit of the Park.

2 comments:

  1. There are bear behaviorists who avoid confrontations with bears due to their knowledge of bear behavior. Courses should be mandatory and tests passed before people are allowed in bear habitats. It would save many lives, both bear and human. Thanks to precious Knut, lovely Flocke and more recently L'il Smokey, I have become an avid bear fan. These magnificent yet endearingly charismatic creatures have been misunderstood and abused all over the world. Researchers are finding them to be as intelligent a the great apes and emotionally complex. I belong to groups to ban Asian bile farms, Indian bear dancing, and Pakistani bear baiting, as well as trophy and harvest kill hunts in favor of hormone harvests.

    Submitted by: Karen V. Stefanini, Beautiful Back Bay, Boston, MA

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  2. I broad-sided a black bear cub while mountain biking at Grand Beach a few years ago. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the cub.

    It was pretty scary at the time, but I find it funny now.

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