Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Glacier National Park 2017

Wild Goose Island
The river below is right next to
the road we started on
I am reminded that I am no longer a spring chicken, I am more like an old stew hen. I hopped handily enough out of bed at 5:15 this morning and hustled everyone into the mini van for our trip to Glacier. Then I drove with spry alacrity up to the park, arriving at West Glacier just before 8:00 am. At that point Dave took over driving and I took over photographing EVERYTHING with the new camera.

Looking back down the road we drove up
My sexy spouse
 With all the stops (and we didn't make one at Logan Pass this year) it took us until 10:40 to get to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. It's right next to Many Glacier on the northeast side of the park. It was drizzling lightly when we arrived, and we were all hungry so instead of hitting the trail right away, we waited 20 minutes until the cafe opened for lunch and then we ate. With one thing and another, it was about noon before we hit the trail. Hindsight is 20/20, but if we had started hiking right away we probably would've seen the moose by Fishercap Lake or the enormous sow grizzly and her two cubs further up the trail. But you never know when the wildlife will be out and about. I'd like to do that hike again--next time earlier in the morning (maybe after staying the night at Swiftcurrent).

Bullhead Lake--the end of our hike
Field of beargrass
The last time we hiked the Swiftcurrent area Jessie was only 8 or 9 and we hiked a more strenuous trail up to Iceberg Lake. I could no more have done that hike today than I could've flown. The hike we took was very easy and mostly level, but at the end of 3/1/2 miles Dave and I reached Bullhead Lake and decided to call it good enough. We were on the Swiftcurrent Pass hike, and we knew we weren't going to do the steep part at the end leading up to the pass, but I thought we'd make it to the end of the Bullhead lake at the bottom of the mountain. However the girls turned back before we even got there and said they'd wait for us at Redrock Falls. Dave and I went on, but then it started raining again and the descending hikers reported no animal sightings further on so we turned around and headed back out.

Ground squirrel
The cows of Glacier
In spite of the lack of wildlife bigger than squirrels (except for the multiple small herds of cows at the entrance to and even inside the park at the Many Glacier entrance) it was an incredible hike. I have never seen so many different wildflowers blooming all at once--and the beargrass blooms were just dense everywhere and taller than Jessie. Last winter was a big snow year, and the spring was very rainy so the growth is explosively lush. And it's not like we didn't see large animals all day. We were fortunate enough to take in the casual browsing show put on by a young male mountain goat up by Logan Pass. I even saw another goat settled in on the side of a cliff above the road as we were on our way back down the road at the end of the day.

Jessie's pic of the fire from '15
The burned area now
It was our first visit to the Park since the devastating fire on the east side two years ago. Jessie was on a boat right off shore of where the fire started and ended up being out on the lake for two hours watching it grow from a plume of smoke to an explosive conflagration. The boat she was on was held there in case they needed to use it to evacuate hikers trapped by the blaze.

Where Siyeh Studio was born
Today the burned trees still stood stark and bare--many peculiarly burned leaving blackened bark with shocking white trunks showing through. And beneath all of them bloomed a riot of wildflowers and lush meadow grasses. As sad as it was that there was a fire, it was really overdue. That area was full of beetle-killed pine trees just waiting for a careless match. Nature reboots just like everything else, and fire is one of her major ways to do it.

Even when the sky is sullen, there's no
more beautiful place to be
The requisite mountain goat shot
We're home at last, and I managed--barely--to hobble into the house and down the stairs groaning all the way. My ankles hurt. My shins hurt. My calves hurt. My hips and my gluteus maximus hurt. The skin on my inner thighs hurts the most as I wore one of my currently-usual dresses on the hike and chafed that tender skin most egregiously.

Logan Peak
Heaven's Peak
Next time I'll wear some spandex workout shorts under my dress for hiking. Or I guess I could just dress like everyone else in their frufty Gore-Tex with their rain gear and their fancy hiking boots and their walking poles. I definitely got some funny looks in my Keens and a blue dress with a camera slung around my neck--especially in the rain by Bullhead Lake after most of the casual hikers had turned back. Whatever. My mother used to do all her serious hiking in thongs--excuse me: flip flops. I keep forgetting that Jessie told me "thongs" means something else now other than footgear. Again, whatever.
Bird on a dead tree

Birdwoman Falls
Now I sit with a pre-shower Negroni, posting and curating the day's photos to pick the best one for the 365 project and the runners up for here. It's going to be a tough choice--Glacier National Park is my favorite place on earth for a reason: there is nowhere with more breathtaking views.

1 comment:

Bill said...

You'd hurt less if you'd wear hiking boots, etc.