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Glacier National Park

Flying the Edge of America

Wednesday, July 9, 2008: Glacier National Park

Steve enjoying his encounter with a Commander

We were glad to leave our dingy little room in Oroville this morning to get some eggs. While eating our breakfast we began to realize that just about everyone in town was over 60 years old.

We postulated that everyone under that age had left Oroville to pursue options elsewhere. When we returned to our room and called the taxi we were surprised when the cabby informed us he could not pick us up for another three hours!

Seeing he was the only game in town we were stuck. Julia called the FBO at the airport and asked if they could help and they accommodated us. Soon Steve the FBO manager and long time test pilot picked us up and dropped us at 51-Juliet. It turns out Steve was a fan of Commander Airplanes and soon we were exchanging flying stories and telling Steve about our adventure.

Oroville Video

Mountains along our route

We fueled up and left Oroville behind us with Kalispell, Montana and Glacier National Park firmly in our sights.

We left the field a bit later than I had expected, due to the excellent conversations we were having with Steve, so 51-Juliet climbed rather slowly into the warm air and blues skies. Once we were at altitude we turned east towards our destination. Along our route we saw magnificent snow capped mountains, blue lakes, and breathtaking countryside.

Julia looking ready for hiking

After landing at Glacier International Airport, unpacking the airplane, and picking up our rental car we were on our way to the National Park. The scenery just kept getting more amazing as we approached the park.

Avalanche Lake

Giant mountain horns uplifted eons ago from sea beds and then carved by massive prehistoric glaciers into humongous valleys now all covered with lush green trees. We could not resist it so after settling into our cabin we headed out to hike 6 miles to Avalanche Lake. This is a high mountain lake with a picturesque setting. We saw many waterfalls on this hike some so shear that the water did not touch a rock until it hit bottom.

On our way back to the cabin we stopped by McDonald Lake to catch the sunset, which was extremely rewarding.

Avalanche Lake Video

From Julia: We had an exciting flight to Glacier over more mountains with winds making the plane ascend and descend. There were amazing views of the hills below. Some looked like Californian hills and made us think of home. Glacier National Park is very beautiful. Although it is early July it seems as if It's springtime here. There are meadows of blue, white and yellow wildflowers and lots of melting snow. Wherever you turn your head there are waterfalls and glacier carved mountains.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Weeping Wall

After breakfast we drove the amazing "Going-to-the-Sun Road" route up high into the park. We found ourselves surrounded by massive mountains and enormous waterfalls which made those at Yosemite seem small in comparison.

We figured this is the best time to come to this park as it is more like spring time here given how much snow this place gets in winter, so all of the water was flowing at peak.

The Beautiful Hidden Lake

We soon reached "Logan's Pass Visitor Center" where we began our three and a half hour hike to "Hidden Lake".

This hike took us by surprise as we had not expected it to consist of many snow covered traverses, slippery and icy conditions, followed by steep descents and ascents. But it was worth the trouble as Hidden Lake is a pleasure spot to visit. I have to put it down as the best hike I have ever done. We ate our lunch at the lake. It was a simple lunch but it was the best view I have ever had while eating a cheese sandwich.

Hidden Lake Video

A Mountain Goat we encountered on the hike.

As we returned to our car the weather began to change quickly for the worse as it does in these high places. We were glad to be back at our car and surprised at how tired we were given how short the hike was.

I figured it was the altitude and the constant slipping under foot that took its toll on us. We returned to the cabin via the long way home so we could see more of this stupendous place.

From Julia: We hiked in snow to a frozen lake and saw various critters including a hoary marmot (very fat and rat-like), mountain goats, moose, big-horned sheep and a solitary coyote. While driving through Montana, on a small road near the park, we were exuberant about the natural beauty of the place. The road was very pretty. Perhaps we could come back and stay for a month and explore. At that moment, David pointed out bullet holes on nearly all the road signs we were passing. We thought that they must get used for target practice from passing cars. Montana is an amazing place.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Many Glaciers area

We drove through the park again this morning to arrive at the Many Glaciers area.

This section of the park is the most northerly and connects to the Canadian part of the park. It turns out that Glacier National Park was created in the 1930"s as a celebration of peace between Canada and the United States. This would explain why you see a Canadian and USA flag flying at all of the ranger stations.

Glacier fed lake

The hike took three hours and ten minutes through a high mountain pass covered with spectacular wild flowers and surrounded by giant mountain peaks.

At the end of the trail was a high mountain lake and one of the many small remaining glaciers in the park. We could not make it to the glacier as the trail was closed due to snow and ice; but it was a fantastic hike even without seeing it.

Many Glaciers Video

Trip stats

Obama:10

McCain: 1

Miles Hiked: 51

Miles Flown: 1,361


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