Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Glacier National Park - Briefly

That's the Road to the Sun etched along the mountain behind us.

There were many waterfalls off
in the distance

Jim, Renate and myself with our rental car

Over 150 glaciers were known to have existed a hundred 
years ago, but now there are about 20 left. It's predicted that
they'll all be gone by 2030.

Our second annual reunion of Tortugal cruiser friends (Tortugeezers) was in Montana this year. Our buddy boat cruiser friends, Renate & Jim drove their trailer from their home on Vancouver Island, so we decided to spend a few days with them before joining all the others. Our flights from Boston to Missoula, Montana were on time but our second flight was overbooked so they had to ask for volunteers in order for us to be seated.  Luckily one couple took the $700 offer. This has convinced me to reserve seats in advance from now on. We had chosen the cheapest package and now I know what that means. I upgraded to the next level for the trip back.

The road is an engineering marvel and mostly 
built by hand.

We didn't see any goats but lots of deer.

The road is narrow and often has no shoulders.

We picked up our rental car quickly and were off for the 2 hour drive up to Columbia Falls near the west entrance to the Park. Our Airbnb was a "tiny house" and they weren't exaggerating. There was room for a double bed (two pillows!), one chair and a kitchen counter with the basics and frig. The bathroom had a stall shower so we really had all we needed, except two more pillows. We wadded up our fleeces! But it was cheaper than any of the hotels and conveniently located near our cruiser friends, Renate & Jim's RV park. 

We had only one day together in Glacier National Park but it was a full one. We lucked out with beautiful mostly sunny weather, but as a result, encountered crowds of people. It was the first day that entry reservations weren't required and that meant many of the popular parking areas were full. But we found lots of spots to pull over and admire the views and take short walks.  The big thing to do here is to drive the Highway to the Sun and we did it twice, traveling east first and then reversing. 

There are hundreds of lakes in the park, 131 of which are named. 

We saw touches of color, mostly berries and low shrubs.

The park was established in 1910 and the road completed by the CCC in 1932. This was Scott's first visit but I spent a week back packing through the park with a friend in the early 1970's, During that trip we camped at both spots where in 1967 two young women were killed by grizzly bears. It was more than a little frightening for sure. Before leaving on that trip, all hikers were made to watch a safety film explaining what to do if encountering a grizzly. As I remember it, "Take off your backpack and throw it away. Stand up as tall as you can and wave your arms over your head. If it starts towards you, roll up on a ball on the ground and pretend to be dead."  "Don't run!" We wore bells around our neck, traveled in a group and sang songs when the trail wasn't visible ahead.  It was a great trip!!!

The trails were all very inviting but we didn't
have time for any long hikes

Built by the Great Northern Railway in 1914-15
the Many Glaciers Hotel sits on a big lake. The
lobby here was really grand rustic.

Renate and I enjoy some time in the sun at the
viewpoint inside on the tunnels

 A fleet of restored 1930s White Motor Company
 coaches, called Red Jammers,
offer tours on all the main roads in the park.
The drivers of the buses are called "Jammers",
due to the gear-jamming that formerly occurred
 during the vehicles' operation.