Glacier National Park, Montana

Jackson GlacierAugust 23-26, 2010

For years we'd heard of the stunning beauty in Glacier National Park, and we wanted to get there before all the glaciers had melted. Kathy and Robin made reservations at Fish Creek Campground, one of the first campgrounds on the west end of the park. We drove up from Swan Lake in a convoy, and when we first pulled into the campground, we were all secretly crestfallen. First, acres of dead fir trees greeted us (forest fire? beetles) just before the entrance. When we went to claim our adjacent spots, we found a steep, narrow road darkened by a thick forest. Each campsite was just an unlevel pullout and a picnic table. Not even the tinest dapple of sun or view of the adjacent Lake MacDonald.

McDonald LakeTrying to make the best of it, we spent a good 20 minutes maneuvering our trailers, trying to find level spots. Finally, Kathy and I drove back to the ranger booth and presented our dilemma. It turns out there were two adjacent spots on the first loop that were perfect. In fact the first one was so big and roomy that we only used the second one for parking. We set up camp, along with hammocks and clotheslines, and spread out like happy hogs.

The next day, the two couples went different ways. Kate and I wanted to traverse the entire park by car. Kathy and Robin didn't want to drive that much, so they stayed closer and did some hiking. It did end up being a lot of time in the car for us that day, especially with much road construction near the Continental Divide, but we saw some incredible views, had a picnic by a lake, and hiked along beautiful river. Our big regret is that we didn't go back and try to find a place to park near a "bear jam" we passed. Dozens of cars were pulled over, everybody studying a mountainside with binoculars, but there wasn't a single other place to park, and we couldn't see what they were looking at. Later we heard from a ranger that it was a grizzly bear and her two cubs feeding on kill. From that point on, Kate was determined to spot another bear.

After seeing some of the photos I'd taken near the divide, Kathy and Robin decided maybe it was worth the drive. And we wished we'd been able to park in the summit lot (which had been full) and do some hiking. So the next day we all got going early and piled into one car to head back to the top. This time, the Logan Pass lot had mountain goatplenty of parking spaces and we were able to take a long, gorgeous hike through alpine meadows, where we saw several mountain goats and big-horned sheep. Now this was a true Glacier Park experience, and I'm so glad we had it!

Afterwards, we stopped at McDonald Lake Lodge for lunch at a diner, followed by ice cream at Apgar. We had the rest of the afternoon to just kick back at our campsite and enjoy the absolutely perfect weather.

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