Monday, May 12, 2014

Glacier National Park

We left Dan and Merlene in Butte and headed to West Glacier, our last stop in the US before crossing the border into Canada on our way to Alaska.  It was a good day for driving with the road traveling through long mountain valleys.  The weather has been all over the place with more days of clouds than sun and temps into the 30's every night.  It sure has given us plenty of practice for dealing with cooler weather.  One issue is having heat on at night.  We have two heat pumps but they are only good for temps down to 40, so they are useless for sleeping.  I don't like leaving our portable electric heater on all night and the propane furnace is less than 10 feet from the bed and very noisy so we have opted to sleep without any heat.  I get up and plug in the heater and turn on the furnace and it is nice and toasty in just a few minutes.  The only thing that would make this system better is if Nanc would get up first and turn on the heat (I won't hold my breath:-))  We both agree that we sleep very well when it is cool, so I think we will be warm enough up north.   
The drive took us past beautiful Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi.  It is a huge recreation area and the snow capped mountains make for a wonderful scene.
We know it is early to be this far north and the weather sure proved that when we woke up to s**w one morning.  It was gone by noon, but the overcast skies stayed all day.  Another day there was hail and a thunderstorm.  At least it was followed by a rainbow.  Sure hope this is the last of the white stuff we see except for the snow capped peaks.  We have been keeping track of the weather up north and it has been warmer in Alaska than it has been where we have been for the last two weeks.  Looking forward to those warmer temps.
I had a couple of RV chores to take care of before we head north.  The cover had come off the brake light and Newmar sent us a new one and our replacement Pressure Pro tire monitoring sensors were also mailed to us and have been mounted.  The forecast looks a bit better and I hope to wash Opus one more time.  We are also getting one last mail delivery, picking up my prescriptions and topping off our larder at cheaper lower 48 prices.  Now that all the jobs are done it is time to "Let the Good Times Roll" and head north.  
Glacier National Park was our third park service stop since leaving Las Vegas.  We were last here in 1982 on our bicycle trek across North America.  That time we biked over Logan Pass on the Going to the Sun Road.  The view across Lake McDonald with the mountains is fantastic.
This is what it looks like on the Going to the Sun at this time of year.  It takes a couple of months each year to get the road cleared.  Some days because of avalanches they have to replow the road they plowed in the morning in order to get down off the mountain.  In 1982 we went over the pass on July first and there was still 15 feet of snow at the top.  Their goal this year is to have it open by June 20th.
Glacier shares the same ecosystem with Waterton Lake National Park in Canada.  The two parks were linked in 1932 as the world's first International Peace Park.  We hope to visit Waterton when we cross the border.  This is Fish Creek flowing with the snow melt.
You can see why Glacier is called the Crown of the Continent.  We hiked the Lake McDonald West Shore Trail and had a view this spectacular mountain the whole way.
The trail went through an area that burned in 2003 so there were a lot of dead standing trees and the thick undergrowth of young ten year old trees.  It looked like a great place for bears to hide so we bought bear spray.  The park service information says we can go into Canada with spray as long as it is labeled Bear Spray and not animal spray.  Sure hope that is true as it was not cheap.  By the way we saw no bears, thank goodness! 
Check out the two tall pines along the shore.  All the other trees burned in the 2003 fire and some how these two survived.  Nature is unbelievable.
More beautiful scenery.
While a lot of things were still closed it was neat having the trail to ourselves.  A real advantage of being here so early.  Even the visitors center was only open on the weekend so we had to go back to 
get our Glacier Park stamp.
The snow capped mountains on the other side of the lake.  The building is a boathouse.
The boat was still being prepared for the summer season with a fresh coat of paint.
After the hike we drove the 14 miles of the road that was open along McDonald Lake and Creek.  The color of the snow melt water is deep blue and green.  
While there was a lot of water, as you can see from the many huge trees on the creek bars, it has been much higher in the past.  

We had a great time in the Glacier area and are all set to head to Alaska.  All the preparation is done and we are looking forward to this next big adventure.  We will be crossing the border this week and will be relying on wifi until we are back in the US when we arrive in Alaska.


Unknown said...

So excited about your trip to Alaska. We have really enjoyed the beautiful pictures. Safe travels-
Charles and Sandy

Ray/Wendy said...

Brrr- we are looking forward to some warmer weather to. You sure are getting the early start up there, it should provide some great photo ops.