A Drive Through Glacier National Park
One of our favorite areas to go on vacation is to and around Glacier National Park in Montana.
We've been many times now, and have enjoyed lots of hikes and other adventures, but the first time for me was a drive through the park. Friends had told me that it was something to see. In 1994 when we were moving from the east coast to the Pacific Northwest and I was driving alone across the northern States, I went far out of my way to have a look. The approach from the east is fantastic. I saw some buffalo and some native Indian tents and an amazing view across flat land, to low hills, then suddenly the huge Rockies. I liked picturing what it must have been like for anyone coming here the first time on foot, horse or wagon. I suspect you'd have serious hesitation about trying to go over those mountains. It looked to me like a giant hand shoved the earth from the west and drove those mountains up out of the earth. Much of the land on the east is the Blackfoot Reservation.
Once I entered the east end of the "Going-to-the-Sun Road" a short drive took me to St. Mary's Lake. It was so beautiful that I was grateful my friends told me to visit. I stopped the car and spent a long time there enjoying the air and the gorgeous scenery, and chatting with some other visitors who stopped. The lake is large and long and lies below a high range just behind it. With binoculars I could see mountain goats way in the distance. I hadn't actually learned much of anything about the Park before I got there. It wasn't until I left that spot and started driving the Sun Road that I realized there was an equally astonishing view about every six minutes along the way! Since the road is 52 miles long, it's a long ride if you spend much time at each pull-off. It's a two-hour drive if you don't stop. No matter how many times we've driven through now - we have to stop frequently. There is one spot where the road bends to wrap around the St. Mary's Lake and the view from there takes in the small Wild Goose Island with massive mountains all around. We can't drive by there without stopping. If you've ever been, you know where I'm talking about. Here's a picture.
The literal highpoint of the road is at Logan Pass, which is 32 miles in from the east side. The approach to the pass provides astonishing views. Steep grassy slopes lead up on your right to very high stony cliffs; there is a waterfall to the right of the road; a gorgeous and huge valley below you to the left - with a waterway running down from the high peaks. Massive mountains loom beyond the valley and there are more peaks beyond them. On this visit it was a hot mid-July. There was plenty of snow to be seen though. An eagle flew high above my head.
The drive over the continental divide puts you on narrow roadways with views further and grander than imagination, and drops a couple feet away from your car that take your breath away. Every turn reveals more astounding views - including the Garden Wall, a tall cliff carved out by a glacier, and the Weeping Wall. You are in subalpine climes here; it looks and feels quite different than the other side of the pass.
Eventually you reach Lake MacDonald, which is the largest lake in the park. It is 10 miles long. Its basin was carved by a massive glacier. I especially enjoy the view from the far end looking back the length of the lake with the glorious mountains around it.
The last report I heard said there are 37 glaciers still in the Park. It wasn't long ago that there were 50. It is believed that they will all be gone by 2030 or in the several years after. This will be an amazing place even after the glaciers have gone, but consider planning a trip soon if can. Logan Pass and much of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are closed a large part of the year. On one trip we got there just in time to go over the pass the first day it opened - June 17th.
We'll tell you about some great hikes and the beautiful Flathead Valley to the west of the mountains in another edition.
Thank you for reading.
Olde English Rhymes
Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub; And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker. Turn 'em out, knaves all three!
This doesn't make enough sense as we read it. The current day rhyme got cleaned up from the earliest version that described three maids in a tub, performing in the sideshow at a local fair. Three tradesmen got carried away and jumped in to bathe with the beauties.
Jack and Jill went up the hill, to fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.
In this rhyme, the first version was about two boys climbing a hill - Jack and Gill. It's derived from an ancient Scandinavian myth about how the full moon looks. The moon god captured two children. When the moon was full, they could be seen with a bucket on a pole between them.