Saturday, July 17, 2010

On to National Parks - Glacier & Waterton

Well - tonight I am sitting here with NO internet connection (so have NO idea when this will actually get posted)(finally have a decent connection in Golden, BC on the 17th - so several days to post!), NO phone connection and listening to the wind, which is gusting at 50-60 miles an hour. We DO love the National Parks and all the beauty they provide - BUT, would love it if they could figure out how to connect to the internet and TURN OFF the wind machine (the wind has followed us since the beginning of our Spring trip in March)!!!!

The VERY good news is that I am looking at the beautiful glacier-filled mountains that make up Glacier NP - an ugly task but someone has to do it;-)

Arriving at Glacier National Park

View from our St. Mary's East Glacier campground

This has been our ‘home’ for the last couple of days. We pulled into the KOA in St. Mary’s (on the eastern side of Glacier NP) on Sunday, July 11, and immediately headed to the Park Visitor Center to get information and ‘map out’ our hikes for the next couple of days. We also ‘investigated’ the little village of St. Mary’s before returning to Magic, our park ‘walk-about’ and dinner.

We decided that we didn’t have to be on the hiking trail at 7 every morning - so Monday, after a leisurely morning, we loaded the PB&J sandwiches, snacks and water in the backpack and headed up the St. Mary’s/Going To The Sun Road to Logan Pass, which was just opened on July 4th! We had been warned that the trail to Hidden Lake Lookout (our morning destination) still had snow on it - but, had NO idea they meant snow-packed!! It was fun to see the wildflowers at the edge of the snow, though;-)

Heading for the Hidden Lake trail - from flowers to snow in a step!

Looks and feels almost like winter

Hidden Lake at the base of the mountain

Looking down a valley from the Hidden Lake overlook

Hang on to your hat. Wind gusts of 40-50 mph

Upon our return to the car we were rewarded with a ‘1 PM show’ by the local Big Horn Sheep. They pranced and posed for pictures right at the edge of the parking lot for about 30 minutes. They sure provided a great show and completely tied up the parking lot while doing it.

This longhorn sheep was talking to us

Oh where oh where has our leader gone?

This guy was showing off

When we finally pulled ourselves away, we headed back down the Going To The Sun Road and stopped at the St. Mary’s Falls trailhead. We were off on our afternoon hike - and got two falls for the work. First was St. Mary’s Falls -

St. Mary Falls was loud and full.

Then the Virginia falls -

Virginia Falls (not sure who it was named after)

Virginia Falls from a distance

Both were beautiful as was the hike. Not sure even my ‘crack personal photographer’ could transmit all the beauty in the pictures.

Oh - did I mention that Glacier NP is grizzly bear territory???? Well - it is - and something to be aware of as we hike;-)

Haven't run into a bear yet this year

After these two hikes, we were exhausted and headed back to Magic to cook something up for dinner. After our beer and vodka tonic AND several Advil we were off to bed only to be awakened by the 50-60 mph wind gusts around midnight. All the slides came in and between us we did get a few hours of sleep.

Our sleepless night did slightly alter our plans for Tuesday - like our 8 mile round-trip hike went by the way side;-( Instead, we headed to the little cafe on the corner for breakfast about 9 - they are known for their pie - and YES I had pie for breakfast;-))!! (The problem is that if you don’t have pie for breakfast, or at least get it then and take it with you, they are out of it!! This is the very good reason you MUST have it for breakfast!)

We then headed a little south to the Two Medicine area - we decided a drive in the car, out of the wind, would be in order. Also, this way we didn’t have to use our legs and feet again! We did do a short mile walk to the Twin Falls when we arrived at Two Medicine - another beauty -

Twin Falls. Not sure why I m sitting. It was our shortest, easiest hike.

Bridge over troubled water? or Trouble on the bridge over the water.

You can see how Twin Falls got its name

Then it was investigate Visitor Centers and just enjoy the beautiful scenery - which there is a lot of. Oh - I forgot - we also disturbed a little herd of cattle on the way. They were laying in a wonderful field of wild flowers and I just couldn’t resist a picture -

Sorry to disturb all y'all

We both were tired of battling the wind today, so we returned to Magic early, which allowed Gary to work on pictures and Elizabeth to do a load of clothes and to write this about the last couple of days.

It is now time for dinner and the All Star Game;-) Gotta go.

Wednesday (July 14th) was another travel day. But, only after breakfast at our little cafe on the corner - AND, another piece of pie;-) This was a very short travel day, though, only about 50 miles to the Canadian side of Glacier NP - Waterton, which will be our home for the next three days. We really loved this place last year - thus the return. AND, it is just as special this time - and is definitely one of our most favorite places anywhere!!

This year we stayed in the Provincial (State) campground, as it is right in the middle of the little township inside the park - and this is our view and the ‘wildlife’ that make it its home -

Great views from our campground

The deer seem at home here

We did our usual routine after getting set up - trip to the Visitor Center to determine all the possible hikes and activities for the next couple of days and a walk about the campground. We also made a stop at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel (I provided a fairly long description of these lodges in the blog last fall as we travelled through this area - so all I will say this year is that these lodges (both in the US and Canada) were built by the RR’s and we can be thankful for them) for an afternoon snack and a drink so we could map out our next couple of days from the info obtained at the Visitor Center. Gary managed to track down an internet connection - but, determined it was not a good one;-( Back at the campground we decided it was too early for dinner - so, the little 3 mile trail at the end of the campground was calling and we were off to Bertha Falls. Many beautiful vistas of Waterton Lake, the many glacier mountains, the Prince of Wales - and the falls.

A view of our campsite from a nearby trail

Prince of Wales Lodge and the town of Waterton below

A view from the trail to Bertha Falls

Along the Bertha Falls trail

Bertha Falls tucked behind the foliage

All I can say is that there is just beautiful, wonderful scenery everywhere!!

So - Much more later (if we ever get an internet connection again) - much love - E & G

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