Sunday, August 24, 2014

ROCKY MT. FALL 1: Glacier National Park

Friday, August 22
Departure Time!
Baker City to Spokane, WA
308 miles

     We are off again!  Not feeling exactly ready to depart this time around as it has been a summer of being gone a lot, with short periods of home in-between.  I still had ‘summery’ things to get done!  But….we are excited about this fall excursion and the beautiful country we hope to explore. 
     But today is filled with wheat fields and rolling hills!  We leave Baker City around 7:15am and head northwest on I-84, over the Blue Mountains, cross the Columbia River, and through Tri-Cities.  I think of all the people we could and should see along this stretch – Midge and Cal, Suzanne and Steve, my niece Michelle and family – as I pass their exits and remember former visits!  But today we are on a schedule! 
     I take over driving just past Pasco as we head up Rt 395 toward Ritzville.  Forgot how steadily uphill this stretch of road is – the truck thought it was working all day and our mileage was terrible (Around 9 mpg!)  In fact, we had to stop just west of Spokane because we were down to the gas gauge saying we had 9 miles left!  (And we filled up at Space Age in Stanfield!) 
Our Alderwood 'resort' spot
      Rick drove us through the heart of Spokane (not the BEST route to take!) and up to Alderwood RV Park just north of town on Rt 2.  A large, very green  park with LOTS of interior shrubbery and bushes.  Not the cheapest place around, but it was convenient to where Marcie Cook lives and our rendezvous with her.  Besides the other place I checked was booked for the night!  We set up the bare minimum (electric to plug the fridge in) and called to meet Marcie at Taste of Thai for a late lunch. 
Marcie and Ginger outside Shari's

     Well, that didn’t work out well!  We couldn’t find the place because it isn’t located where Google maps says it is and when Marcie got there it was closed anyway!  Agh!  Eventually Marcie found us in front of the Fred Meyer and we opted to just go to Shari’s just down the road!  Good for Shari’s as we spent the next 2.5 hours visiting! 

     Evening spent visiting on phone with Mom and Marg, reading, etc. as we enjoyed the cooling weather and ever changing skies.  Tomorrow?  Idaho and the Bortz family!!  

SATURDAY, August 23
Visit with Bortz’s
Spokane to Naples:  92 miles
The road north of Spokane - US Route 2

     Rick and I had a leisurely arising on Saturday morning.  We don’t have far to go and can’t arrive before noon!  So it is about 9:15 when we pull out of the RV park and head north on Route 2.  This is new road for us!!

Beautiful fields as we near Naples
Lake Pend Orielle
      Marcie had talked yesterday of the damage recently from two wind storms that swept through the NE corner of Washington and northern Idaho.  Oh my!  We saw the evidence all the way up to Steve’s house!  One trailer park about 20 miles north of Spokane suffered severe damage.  Probably close to 50 trees down between the two storms, and many mobile homes destroyed.  Most of the downed trees were uprooted from the base – Ponderosa Pines primarily – heavy rains had loosen the soil and….Boom.  But many others appeared to have sheared at about the 20’ level, leaving jagged spikes of stump.  It was a mess! But alas, I didn't get any pictures. 
Steve and Rick chat in front of veggie garden
      But the terrain was beautiful – rolling hills, heavily forested, with random meadows and fields of hay interspersed.  We entered Idaho at Priest River and then followed the Pend Oreille River toward Sandpoint.  We stopped in Sandpoint to explore the Farmer’s Market.  We remembered it from 6 years ago – in fact, it was here that we first bought Italian flavored sourdough bread with bits of sun dried tomato in it.  The start of my ‘famous’ bread (ok, it is well loved in Baker City!)  We didn’t find any exciting bread, but we did pick up some blueberry and raspberry scones to offer for a breakfast treat on Sunday morning.  I visited the booth of a Japanese artist for quite awhile – she did meditative prayer drawings mixing both English and Japanese characters.  Fascinating.  I had to buy one of her cards just to remember the techniques. 
Bortz ranch house, with Steve and Rick
     We arrived at the Bortz ranch around 12:30.  Steve had been home for about 15 minutes!!  Kaeleen had to work until 5:30ish, so we just kicked back with Steve and visited, investigated the latest addition to his house (it has been a work in progress for 20 some years, but progress is being made!)  Their big news was the arrival on Monday night of Emma Bortz, born to Dirk and Sarah down in Elgin!  They are grandparents! 
Kootenai River near Bonner's Ferry
     Kaeleen arrived home shortly after 6 from her work down in Sandpoint.  She was exhausted (working in a hotel laundry and Sunday will be her LAST DAY!)  But they had made plans to head up to the Bonner’s Ferry Brewery for dinner, so once Kaeleen was changed and ready, we took off north the 10 miles to Bonner’s.  Had a good meal and shared conversation. 
     Both Steve and Kaeleen have to leave around 8:15 tomorrow morning – Kaeleen for that final day of a job and Steve to teach Sunday School!  So off to bed by 10:30 pm! 

SUNDAY, August 24
Naples to West Glacier, MT
184 miles 

Steve and Kaeleen relax with Ruby before we take off
     Up and inside around 7 to visit and eat scones with Steve and Kaeleen!   Unfortunately, Steve is gluten free, so he had a bowl of cereal.  Sorry, Steve!  And then everyone is off around 8:15!! 
View leaving Bonner's Ferry
     We head east on US 2 from Bonner’s Ferry toward Montana and the town of Troy.  Gas stop!  We got lousy milege last Friday, so hopefully things are improving!  We didn’t put ANY gas in the truck yesterday, but then again, we only drove 92 miles! 
Kootenai River
    East of Troy is Kootenai Falls – a beautiful cascade of waterfalls on a wide section of the Kootenai River.  The geology of this part of the NW is fascinating, but I won’t try to explain it all.  There are lots of layers of rock, some with swirly patterns in them.  Trails at the park went over the railroad tracks on a bridge, across the river on a swinging bridge, and to overlooks of the many cascades.  We hiked them all!  Ate lunch in the trailer before heading on toward Libby, MT.
Swinging Bridge
     From Libby we wind south through thick forests, canyons, wide grasslands, and lakes.  There are very few towns or communities on this 80 mile-ish section of the highway.  The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, including Snowy Peak (which had a patch of snow on it at 7600’) fall south of Libby for nearly 30 miles.  Pretty drive, but not really spectacular. 
Rick checks out the swirls in the rocks. 
On the swinging bridge!
Kootenai Falls upper level
  Into Kalispell and on up more familiar highway to Columbia Falls.  We stopped to pick up a few groceries at the Super 1 and then headed on up to West Glacier and our Glacier Campground.  I was a little worried because I couldn’t REALLY remember WHICH campground I had made reservations at nor exactly WHERE it was.  But the Good Sam Campground book helped me locate the right one! 
      What a laid back place!  It advertises ‘Camping as it used to be!’  The gal didn’t even want to take my money for a few days to make sure everything was ‘good’.  There are no sewer hookups so we will be careful, but we are parked right next to a showerhouse, set back in the trees.  The park is not overly full.  We got set up and then took a walk around all the loops – 160 some sites.  They were cooking BBQ pork tonight at the ‘Backwoods Bistro’, but we decided we have eaten out for three straight days.  Time to cut back! 
Our campsite at Glacier Campground - just outside West Glacier
     I don’t have internet at the site, so will have to go down to the office each night to post, etc.  We also have no cell phone coverage.  This will be a quiet week!

     Spent the night catching up on blog, pictures, devotions, etc. 

PS  The internet here is VERY SLOW.  I will get more pictures to the blog as I can.  Going to quit for tonight!!!   

MONDAY, August 25
Glacier National Park: Many Glaciers
About 160 miles (5-6 Hiking)

      Well, today ended up longer both milege and time wise, but what a GORGEOUS DAY!!  After a good sleep and quiet night (not even a wind to jingle my chimes, much less a bear!) we left around 9 with the intent to drive up to Logan Pass and take a short reconnoitering hike.  A ‘let’s-get-the-lay-of-the-land-and-the-road’ sort of day. 
            So, 9am finds up winding through West Glacier and the park entrance.  We are greeted with HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  No entrance fees today at the park because they are celebrating their 98th birthday.  We haven’t yet determined if that is for THIS park or the National Park Service as a whole!  We got a little more information and took off. 
            So much for thinking we were early enough or a Monday would be better.  The weather is too perfect so I think all of Montana waited to come until the rains stopped.  But there are plenty of plates NOT Montana as well!  The campground might not be full, but there are still people here and I can only imagine that the Labor Day weekend crowd will be large! 
Nearing Logan Pass
            We are amazed at the change in the river water levels.  What was a rushing torrent in May is now a meandering stream with grassy gravel banks.  McDonald Creek, Avalanche Creek, the Flathead River – wow!  Pockets of snow on the cliffs high above us are few and far between.  Flowers?  Along the lower elevations asters and yarrow, yellow goldenrod, paintbrush as we ascend elevations. 
           We are on new highway as we pass Avalanche Creek and the road closure gate from May.  The queue of traffic begins to thicken, especially as we ascend McDonald Creek valley between the narrowing walls of the jagged mountains.  The West Tunnel and ‘Loop’ are officially where the road gets a little hairy and I was glad Rick was driving.  Taking pictures took my mind off how close we were to the edge, the lack of real guard rails, etc.!  But no one drives very fast.  From the Loop to the top of the pass, the Road to the Sun makes one LONG traverse up the rock wall of the Continental Divide, a steady uphill cut into the rock.  Road engineers from the early 1900’s were incredible!  It is not wide – you can see where big side mirrors could be a problem.  The corners are short in places, hence the 21’ length restriction.  But the views are breath-taking! 
Under the Garden Wall
            We finally arrived at Logan Pass around 10am – to find the parking lot an absolute zoo of drivers circling to grab one of the rare spots as they were vacated.  We circled a couple of times and at this point our plan for the day changed!  Rick decided the shuttle sounded really practical, so…. Since we had the truck up to the top anyway, let’s go on over to Many Glaciers today and be done with driving!!  We exited the parking lot and headed down the other side! 
Wild Goose Island on St. Mary's Lake
            The road tends to be a little wider on the east side, but road improvement work was being done and it was gravel and slow for about 10 miles just past Logan Pass.  We knew that ahead of time.  We got stopped at a viewpoint above St. Mary’s Lake for about 15 minutes and took the opportunity to switch drivers, take pictures, sample huckleberries (or facsimiles!)  etc.  It is hard to describe the scenery.  Take towering fins of sedimentary rock, colored layers and stripes, frost with a scattering of green in some of the ‘cracks’, spot with the white of an ice pack or tiny glacier, and put it all thousands of feet above you as you wind your way between.  We didn’t see any wildlife along the road. 
Clements Mt and Mt. Oberlin near Logan Pass
            Through St. Mary’s town, the East entrance to the park and visitor center (we’ll stop on the way back for a stamp!) and north on the prairie hills to Babb and the road into Many Glaciers.  Similar to last spring and our drive to Two Medicine, you gradually leave the prairie along a long lake and re-enter the mountain zone!  We drove to the end of the road at Swiftcurrent Store, picked up some sandwiches (we hadn’t brought THAT much food) and a good hiking map and found the boat leaves from the hotel. Back down the road a couple miles to the hotel turn!
Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake
 Many Glaciers hotel is another remnant of the Great Northern Railroad resorts.  Wow!  A sprawling huge building along the edge of Swiftcurrent Lake (there is actually a string of about 4 lakes here).  Rick dropped me off to see about tickets for the boat ride while he went up the hill to park.  We got tickets for the 1pm boat (just 20 minutes from then!) and hurried to gather our stuff and get to the boat in time!  The boat takes you up the Swiftcurrent Lake to the Grinnell Valley end.  We then walked up and over a little quarter mile rise to Josephine Lake and a second boat which took us another 15 minutes to the end of that lake.  The boat cuts about 2 miles off the hike in both directions (4 total) so with a short day it was the perfect option!  Plus we learned a few things!  Difference between an ice pack and a glacier?  A glacier is still moving! 
We arrived at the end of the lake at 1:40p with the final pickup of the day scheduled for 5:15p.  Three and half hours for the hike up to Grinnell Glacier 3.2 miles away and 1600 feet UP!  The hike to Grinnell Lake was only a flat mile and we had more time than needed for that.  I’m glad Rick opted for the glacier, even though I wondered at the time if we really had enough time for it.  And we didn’t make it clear to the glacier.  We got to where we could SEE all of it, to a marvelous viewpoint a thousand feet above Grinnell Lake, to a sweeping hillside filled with beargrass, wildflowers, waterfalls and big-horn sheep – God’s country! 
I had eaten ALL of my sandwich and it didn’t settle well (richer than my dieting tummy was used to?), so I labored up the climb, not feeling at all well.  The trail was busy, so yelling to announce our presence for the bears that could be potentially feeding on all the berry bushes along the way wasn’t necessary.  People had seen bears along here.  We did walk over a HUGE pile of richly purple colored scat in the middle of the trail.  Big bear eating lots of huckleberries!! 
Up above Grinnell Lake
By the time we got to the slope where the big-horn sheep were resting and grazing, my stomach was feeling better but our ‘turn-around’ time was approaching.  We sat at the base of a waterfall cascade, amid wildflowers, and scanned the beauty while sucking on a Werther’s.  (Rick always has a supply in his dayback!)  The turquoise of Grinnell Lake was below us, and the sun was moving to the west, putting the long horizontal bands of both Grinnell and Salamander Glaciers into the deep shadows.  Our favorite of the glaciers was Gem Glacier --perched at the top of a sheer rock wall like a dollop of whip cream on top of the rock sundae. 
Bighorn Sheep saying, 'MY TRAIL!"
The sheep herd numbered about ten or so.  Half were just resting on top of a rock outcropping, but four others were in the grassy meadows and moving about.  As we left two of them crossed the trail right in front of us (causing me to try to avoid it by going uphill, but a little closer than I would have liked- 6 feet away?)  One then moved below us to graze on the beargrass.  Great photo ops!! 
Moose at far end of Josephine Lake
I forgot to mention our ‘welcome’ to the boat dock at the end of the lake.  We saw water flying everywhere and a HUGE bull moose was having a tizzy-fit at the edge of the water.  We aren’t sure if something spooked it or what, but it thrashed around before settling down to stare at the boat.  We didn’t get too close to the moose, but I still got some decent pictures. 
We were able to get on the 4:30 boat back down the lake.  We debated on routes home, but a milkshake rejuvenated Rick at the little town of Babb and we decided the traffic should be easing up over the pass so we would go back that way.  (The alternative was adding about 45 more miles to the day!)  I drove back up to the middle of the construction and then Rick took us over the top and down to our campground.  The sun on the hills from the other side was beautiful.  We saw a few more sheep up near Logan Pass.  Still, it was after 7pm when we pulled back into our site.  A long day!
Showers, a bite to eat, and I spent the rest of the night working through the 400+ pictures I took!! 

TUESDAY, August 26
Glacier National Park: Logan Pass and Hidden Lake Trail
6 miles Hiking

Pano of Hidden Lake from saddle area
            Up and moving a little quicker today as we want to catch the 8:30ish shuttle from the Apgar Visitor Center up to Logan Pass.  We have to think through things a little more because we won’t have the truck with us up on top.  We are the last two to get on the shuttle – they really only had room for one more, but took us both. (They are supposed to leave 2 available seats for loading at both Avalanche and The Loop on this ‘express’ shuttle.  Too bad – only 3 available now!)
            Much nicer heading up the windy and narrow road without having to drive.  I’m sure Rick noticed it more!  We ended up explaining the CAV program to at least 4 different groups of people over the course of the day and our rides on the shuttle.  Good advertising for the program I guess! 
Hidden Lake from the overlook
Hidden Lake vista
 The pass is cloudless and brisk when we arrive around 9:45!  We walk briefly through the VC and gift shop, I get a passport stamp, and we are off on our hike to Hidden Lake.  Only two trails take off from Logan Pass and we plan to hike both of them!  The Hidden Lake Trail is 500’ up to an overlook from the VC – mostly on boardwalk constructed over the fragile alpine meadowlands.  If I was worried that I was going to miss the wildflowers, I shouldn’t have!  Oh my goodness – the beargrass was past for the most part, but we saw lush carpets of yellow daisies, pink monkey flower, burgundy paintbrush, elephant heads, purple asters and fleabane, goldenrod, and more.  Beautiful.  Just beautiful.   With the multiple rivulets of water cutting paths across the meadows, and the staircase effect of the strata layers, I am sure that God was busy at work in creating this landscape garden. 
     In a small forested area, we crested the Continental Divide and ended up at an overlook above Hidden Lake, about 800’ below us.  Sheer rock walls surround us.  We can see clear to the northeast edge of Macdonald Lake.  Avalanche Lake, which we hiked to last spring, is just on the other side south of Bearhat Mt.  The crowd is thick at the overlook – this is one of the popular trails in the park!  Fewer people (although still plenty!) opt to hike down to the lakeshore itself. 
As we drop down to the lake.  Bearhat Mt. behind.
     But the rewards of that hike are numerous.  We past a small group of mountain goats, one just standing right in the trail with no real intention of moving.  Rick and I finally just lead the way for a group of about 15 waiting as we circumvent the goat by walking up and around on the hillside.  I hated to step on the delicate undergrowth, but Mr. Goat was NOT moving.  He just stared at us. 
Mt. goat and Bearhat
     I absolutely loved the top part of the lake trail as we traversed through rocky meadow under a towering sheer rock wall.  Trickles of waterfalls, and hoary marmots along the trail (they were very much not afraid of people either!)  Eventually the descent became steeper and we hit a few switchbacks before dropping down to the lake edge.  Above we had traveled through fields of beargrass ‘stems’, but down near the lake I was treated to a few fields of blooming beargrass – a meadow alive with white spikes!  Soooo awesome! 
Bearhat and a field of beargrass!
Clements Mt. near Logan Pass and wildflowers
      Lunch snacks along the shoreline and shortly after noon we began the hike back up.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and before we knew it we were back up on top.  We had to walk around another goat and marmot to get to the top, and then back down the boardwalks to the pass.  LOTS of hikers on the trail!! 
      We timed it right and were able to catch a shuttle right away around 2pm which took us back to Avalanche.  We then had to wait about 25 minutes for a shuttle to take us the rest of the way to Apgar.  It was about 4:10 when we got back to the trailer.  We found a note from Clint and Kathy on the door!  They had been by at 3pm!!  We now have their campsite number up at Apgar campground and will stop by tomorrow night enroute home from our hike. 
     But tonight….Columbia Falls calls!  Quick showers, change of clothes and we are off for a weigh-in at WW for me, dinner at a Chinese restaurant, phone calls to Luke and Mom, and then a little shopping at the Super One.  Home before dark! 
Panorama of Logan Pass area at start of Hidden Lake hike.

WEDNESDAY, August 27
Glacier National Park: Highline Trail from Logan Pass to The Loop
12 miles Hiking
     To say I am tired and sore tonight is an understatement…..and it will probably be worse tomorrow!  But….what a glorious day on the trail!! 
Starting out from Logan Pass on the Highline Trail
     We again caught the 8:35 shuttle from Apgar and headed up to Logan Pass.  Had some interesting conversations along the way with some of the other riders.  We arrived at the top of the pass around ten am, ready to start out on the Highline Trail, a high elevation route along the backbone of the Continental Divide at ‘The Garden Wall’.  According to our map author, the BEST hike in the park!   Our intent WAS to go about 3.5 miles in to Haystack Butte, eat, and then turn around.  The best laid plans are easily changed! 
Clement Mt from the Highline Trail -
where the trail is cut from rock.
  This kind of trail calls to me!  Contours that traverse a high elevation ridge, mini waterfalls, wildflowers, snowy peaks in the distance!  It reminded me of the Elkhorn Crest Trail and some of the hikes we took along the Divide down in Colorado.  We saw one deer, mountain goats, pika, but no grizzly.  Good thing because we were in prime habitat for berry seeking bears all day!  But the foot traffic is heavy, especially close to Logan Pass.  A wise bear would be somewhere else! 
Typical view of Highline Trail
     It is hard to describe a hike of this nature.  We were fed a constant diet of paintbrush, gentian, asters, fleabane, yarrow, pearly everlasting, goldenrod, spirea, fireweed, harebells, penstemon, and more.  The Garden Wall is covered with stairstep waterfalls and cascades – earlier in the season these would have been gushing water.  Nearing September, trickles fell in most, some were dry.  But the obvious evidence of moisture was everywhere. 
Fireweed and more! 
  To our left the slope plummeted thousands of feet down to the canyons of Logan and Macdonald Creeks.  For awhile we could hear the sound of traffic on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Then we could just see its ribbon of pavement below us.  For most of the hike, the road didn’t exist! 
One of many dry creekbeds (or almost dry!)
along the Weeping Wall
     A major landmark was Haystack Butte – some 7500’ feet in elevation that divides the trail from the road below at the mid-way point along the Garden Wall.  The trail ascends one of the few switchbacks to the saddle – a huge expanse of green carpet and boulders dotted with hikers taking a lunch break.  We arrived right around noon ourselves and stopped for abit.  Midway through my jerky I said to Rick, “Just to put this out there, I would be willing to go the rest of the way to the chalet and then hike down The Loop Trail.  I might not be able to move tomorrow, but I want to keep going!”  Without much hesitation, Rick agrees!  So we take one more picture, I give up on my inuk construction (which collapsed the first attempt) and we continued on along the trail! 
View back toward Haystack Butte (on right)
Rick took this picture!!  
After another wide basin, we rounded a rocky point and spotted the Chalet perched on a distant ridge about 3 miles away.  We later realized you can probably pick out the chalet with binoculars from Logan Pass if you know where to look, as we had a direct line of vision to the pass from the chalet.  But….the first vision of the chalet is deceiving because the trail winds in and around one basin to another along the divide knife of rock about 1500’ above us.  That 3 miles looks closer than it is! 
Granite Park Chalet
     It was close to 2:15 when we plodded up the little knoll to this National Historic Site.  No water, no electricity, and an 11 week operating season (they close September 8).  Reservations must be made nearly a year in advance at a cost of about $100 per person.  We are able to pick up a bottle of water for $3.50.  A propane powered fridge keeps the bare necessities cold.  Supplies are packed up by mule along the Loop Trail.  There are approximately 16 rooms available.  White sheets were drying on a clothesline!  We stopped long enough to rest abit and eat a little more. 
Descending The Loop Trail with Butch and MaryAnn
Then it was time to descend!  The Loop Trail connects the Granite Park Chalet with the road at the end of The Loop (the huge major switchback in the highway).  Four miles DOWN, but we found it well graded.  Just a constant down.  We passed one couple, but found ourselves just behind a couple from Tennessee.  They were keeping a good pace (she was in front) so we just stayed behind them the whole way, carrying on conversation.  (Necessary as this was prime grizzly habitat – we even stopped to eat some huckleberries along the way!)  I later found their names were Butch and MaryAnn as she wanted my email address.  Rick told them all about the CAV program and our travels. 
     The descent was hot.  We had been in direct sun since The Haystack for much of the trail, and The Loop passes largely through an area struck by a major wildfire in 2003.  The lower vegetation is coming back, but the forested canopy that should shade the trail now stands as tall white towers in the green.  Still plenty of wildflowers, with the addition of some changing vine maple.  It was a different kind of beauty with the mountains viewed through the white sticks in the distance.  Heaven’s Peak, one of the major mountains on the west side of Macdonald Creek, towered above us the whole way. 
     With a surprise, the last quarter mile is uphill!  What?  And teasingly long as you can hear the cars and motorcycles as they round the Loop, but every curve in the trail simply reveals more trail!   We finished the hike at 4:15pm.  I wrote MaryAnn’s email down in my phone and they headed back up to Logan Pass where their car was parked, and we caught a shuttle down to Avalanche.  A wild bus ride from Avalanche on down to Apgar – one of the big buses and it was a crowd waiting to get on.  The driver just kept piling us in saying she could get 55 people into this bus.  Rick and I were standing by the emergency doors and just holding on!  So on tired legs, we stood for the final 15 minute drive down to Apgar! 

     We arrived around 5:40 and decided not to stop at Clint and Kathy’s.  All we wanted was a shower and to collapse!  Thursday will be a REST day!  
Panorama from chalet looking back toward Logan Pass.  Trail cut along the left ridge.  
THURSDAY, August 28
Glacier National Park:  Recovery Day!
     And a day of rest this was!  Rick got out the hammock – we both tried it out for extended periods of reading.  I went down to the lobby for about two hours and caught up a LITTLE on the postings and pictures.  It is so slow uploading pictures, however, that I didn’t even try to get stuff up to Picassa web album.  The weather was beautiful – a little cooler and a nice breeze.  We were both a little stiff, so kept stretching. 
Rick tries out the hammock Luke gave us for 'retirement'!
     Highlight of the day was our trip up to Apgar Campground and an evening spent with Clint and Kathy Norrell, our Habitat team leaders, and Diane and Tom Hinkle, our Prineville Habitat friends.  Camp neighbors of Norrells also stopped by for awhile.  Kathy pulled out a makeshift dinner to share with all.  We had brought up some veggies and dip and chips, and Hinkles brought up some ice cream and huckleberries for dessert.  We hadn’t planned on dinner, but it was great! 
     We broke up as raindrops began to fall and it was getting dark anyway!  Coming home the sky was a blaze of flashes as a lightening storm struck just north of us.  Got home in time to have the storm pass overhead – scattered raindrops, but nothing too major.  (As I type a big burst of rain fell on the trailer roof!)  Camp is full, but relatively quiet.  G’night! 

FRIDAY, August 29
Glacier National Park: Avalanche Lake Hike
4.5 miles
Rick grabs a drink during lunch break

            A nice lazy morning as I finished up some pictures, Rick read, and we weren’t in a hurry.  Then as we were getting into the car, we visited with the campers across the way from Arizona.  A talkative duo interested in the little trailer.  So we gave them a tour!  It was 10:30 by the time we were pulling into the park and the lines were long!!  I asked one of the shuttle drivers later why they don’t have a line for Pass holders, because it seems there would be many.  She said when the lines back up to the HQ office driveway, they just wave everyone through for free! 
View from end of lake

            Anyway, we were quickly on a big shuttle bus within 10 minutes, still standing room!  We picked up riders at the Apgar Village, again at Macdonald Lodge. 
            But once on the trail, I was somewhat surprised.  It wasn’t as crowded as I expected.  Plenty of hikers, but not a zoo!  Maybe more people were waiting to see if the rain really had stopped! 
Ginger at Avalanche Lake
            The water level in Avalanche Creek was lower, but still a good flow coming through the ‘chute’ near the trailhead.  Just a pretty little gorge canyon there in the rocks.  Few wildflowers in the woods sections, but plenty of mossy ground!  There had been a grizzly sighting on the trail a couple days earlier, but we didn’t see anything but a golden mantle ground squirrel all day! 
            We hiked about halfway up the lake and found a quiet spot along the shore to just gaze for awhile and eat lunch.  A few hikers were fishing, catching small trout.  The water level was definitely lower in the shallow sections, but the lake is deep in the middle.  The many waterfalls from last spring cascading down the wall of rock at lake’s end are now three major falls.  Huge clouds were rolling across the sky so we never had good blue skies behind the lake. 
            We saw three new flowers on the trip: Devil’s club, common selfheal and orange agoseris (yes, I had to identify the second two with the book when we got back to the trailer!)  The Devil’s club was everywhere along the trail, the leaves looking haggard and chewed, the berries ripe and red.  The other two were saw just up by the lakeshore. 
Avalanche Creek in the sunshine coming back down
            By the time we were hiking out, the trail was busy!  Plenty of people out and about!  Back down to the trailhead around 2:30 and we picked up a shuttle within minutes!  Had a good ride back down to Apgar on one of the small shuttles and a good visit with the driver (we sat up front for once!) 
            Quiet evening!  I finished my book, we had BLT’s for dinner and then vented the trailer out well to get rid of the bacon smell!  Even played a round of rummy after dinner which Rick won easily!!  Watched the campground slowly fill up, although it was much quieter than I anticipated.  (People seemed to pull in, set up, and then leave!)  We could smell the campfire smoke fill the trees.  This has been a nice site for us – close to the bathhouse but good (B-1 for future reference!)
            Tomorrow?  Laundry and such!  West Glacier!  We are NOT going through the park entry lines! 
Avalanche Lake

SATURDAY, August 30
Glacier National Park: West Glacier

Entry sign to West Glacier
            I almost am embarrassed to write a subtitle for today of Glacier NP!  We deliberately did NOT enter the park today, figuring it would be too much of a zoo!  Besides the weather was much cooler and our laundry was calling!  So another relaxing morning!  (Retirement cannot be all work AND play – you must have some NOTHING time!)
            We used the machines here at the park – they were available and cheap.  Got a load all done for just $2.75!  While Rick ‘manned’ the machines I took the computer down to the lobby and got a few things caught up – until the internet stopped working! 
Canada-Alberta Welcome Center
            After lunch we drove into West Glacier to explore and shop abit.  We discovered the Welcome Center there is JUST a Canadian welcome – filled with travel information for the province of Alberta.  Very well done and interesting with some great displays, etc. but we didn’t spend long because we weren’t heading up to Alberta!

            We visited the TWO gift shops in West Glacier.  The one tshirt I liked (with wildflowers on it) they didn’t have in my size.  The main gift shop had some beautiful things, including some wonderful book ideas for ‘down the road’ for kids.  Rick saw a really cute woodland nativity, but it was cast resin and not THAT well made. 
            A rain shower as we made our way back to the campground. We decided to scrounge for dinner and then try out the Backwoods Bistro café for breakfast in the morning.  They have some very interesting entrees offered on the menu! 
            Thus concludes our ‘Glacier Park’ posting for this blog.  Tomorrow we head down to Columbia Falls, moving our house down to LaSalle RV Park to join the rest of the CAV crew to start work!!  Play time is over!  The affiliate needs our help to get these houses built before their March grant deadline!  

Alpine and Leafy Asters                             
Brown-Eyed Susans                                    
Cascade Mountain Ash                              
Columbine, Yellow
Common Selfheal
Cow Parsnip
Lewis Monkeyflower
Indian Paintbrush
Devil’s Club
Elephant Heads
Leafy Aster
Vine Maple

False Hellebore
Fleabane - purple
Forget-Me-Nots, Wood
Gentian, Bog or Explorer’s
Huckleberries (both lowbush and highbush)
Indian Paintbrush
Lewis Monkeyflower (pink)
Orange Agoseris
Common Selfheal

Orange Agoseris (False Dandelion)
Pearly Everlasting
Still working on this - type of wintergreen?
Subalpine Spiraea (rose colored)
Vine Maple
Wild Onion
Wild Raspberry
Wild Strawberry
Wooley Mullein
Yarrow (white)

Several white flowers and the fungus flower to be identified! 

Big bull moose at Josephine Lake, Many Glaciers
Big Horn Sheep on trail at Grinnell Glacier
Mountain Goat, Hidden Lake Trail
Hoary Marmot, Hidden Lake Trail
Pika, Highline Trail
Mule Deer, Highline Trail
Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel, Avalanche Lake
Caterpillar of some type, Avalanche Lake Trail
As close to a grizzly as we got! 

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