Glacier National Park Has It All
June 4, 2015
West Glacier, MT, One week in KOA West Glacier, #165
Eight years in our bus.
Dennis by River_sm

Dennis by Avalanche Crook on Trail of the Cedars.


We had low clouds and threat of rain when we left Coeur d’Alene at 8:55 AM Tuesday morning. It did begin to rain but we had an easy and pretty drive on I-90 over the passes of the Idaho Forest Panhandle. On Lookout Pass (4,754′ el) we left Montana at 10:20 AM and entered the Coeur d’Alene National Forest at 11:20 AM. Darn! We lost an hour.

In St. Regis we stopped for fuel at Conoco and then followed MT-135 east. Between mile marker 0 and 11 (about halfway to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort) we ran into some construction delays at St. Regis Cutoff Rd along the Clark Fork River. There were flaggers, single lane traffic and pilot cars but the delay was not long. At Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, we turned north on MT-200 to cross the Clark Fork River and entered a picture perfect valley as we passed through Paradise. At Plains we turned NE on MT-28 passing Rainbow Lake and Camas Hot Springs and Lonepine. This is a great valley with large alfalfa or mixed grain farms. Although it was cloudy, everyone was watering their fields. At Nirada we turned east and passed through sagebrush ranchland with low rolling hills until we arrived at Elmo by Big Arm, the western finger of the enormous Flathead Lake.

On the west side of the lake we turned north passing through Lakeside and Somers on US-93. At the north end of the lake, we turned east on MT-83 to cross the Flathead River and then swung north on MT-35 and MT-206 as we ran parallel to the loops and curves of the Flathead River grown large and old before it empties into the lake. Finally near Columbia Falls, we joined up with US Rte 2 and turned NE along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River passing Martin City and Coram. We continued in the Flathead Nat’l Forest to West Glacier KOA located just south of the west entrance to Glacier National Park.

KOA has improved since we started our travels in 2007. This KOA is big an beautiful with large pull-thru sites and plenty of lawn space. Connie who checked us in gave us their local KOA special and she made sure our space would receive a satellite signal.

We didn’t try to hurry on our journey but we did feel some time urgency. Every other Tuesday, Dennis has a conference call for a Walton & Sons Masonry staff meeting. It happened to land on our travel day and so we were anxious to arrive before 2:00 PDT if possible. We were checking in at the office when Dennis received his call at 3:15 MDT. He told his staff to go ahead with the meeting and he’d call back. We pulled into our site and he called the office to tell them to call him back from their land line speaker phone. He sat in the passenger chair while I put down the jacks and put out the slides. Then I pushed up a small table by his elbow to hold his papers and brought him a drink and a snack. He’d been driving all day and hadn’t eaten much. After that I let the dogs out and then I lay down to read. When his call was finished an hour or so later we hooked up the utilities and finished getting settled.

Cataract by Bridge_sm

Avalanche Creek at the Trail of the Cedars bridge.


Last night I saw an almost full moon shining between the clouds. The campground does not have a lot of night lights so things were nicely dark for me to enjoy the moon. Today was a gray day with low clouds and we felt tired. My eyes were scratchy and I started to sneeze. It developed into a part rest day, part busy detail day.

I was faced with the time dilemna. Should I stay on CA time or switch to MT time? My bedroom clock and my iMac were on PDT time. However the iPhones and the Honda switched to MDT. It becomes very schizophrenic. DirecTV channels remain on a CA time schedule but I mostly watch recordings that are not in real time. I decided to change my iMac to MDT time but I left my bedroom clock on PDT to match the times of programs on TV.

Our Verizon wi-fi jetpack continues to give us trouble. Every time we turn it on to have wi-fi access on a computer it racks up huge amounts of data MGs in one day. Once again we find a month of time used up in days. Now we’ve figured out that it must be the DIRECTV_WVB_ network that apparently streams data into our TV. I called DirecTV and discovered that the receiver is not connected to On Demand. So all the excessive data Verizon is charging us for is being used by the wireless video bridge that is needed for the wireless genie receiver. Our next experiment will be to switch off the power to the wireless genie receiver when we turn on Verizon to work on our computers. Maybe that will stop the excessive data usage for which Verizon charges us. Right now we are over our limit until June 12th and we can’t use Verizon at all. So we are trying to get by with the free wi-fi provided by our RV parks. They are slow but it is workable.

In the afternoon we took a little drive into West Glacier and then we drove along McDonald Lake up to the lodge and back. We were last here in August 2008 so this drive is familiar. It was gray and started to rain on the way back. However, we did stop to take photos and even though it was gray the lake was beautiful and impressive with the mountains in the background. The setting sun made a silver light that shone through the clouds.

Leafy View of Creek_sm

Avalanche Creek rushes towards McDonald Creek on Trail of the Cedars.


This morning I woke at four but it was actually five so I decided I could get up. It was cold. There were patches of clear sky and one large dark cloud. It was 45° and cloudy but the prediction was for sunshine and a hi of 73° with a chance of showers or thunderstorm in the evening. I made coffee and worked on LFAB until we were ready to go out.

We left at 10:30 AM and drove on the Going-to-the-Sun Road towards Logan Pass. Unfortunately we are here too early in the season. This famous scenic road is still closed due to snow and constructions. We drove 10.5 miles along the lake to Lake McDonald Lodge and then another 5.5 miles northeast of the lodge to where the road is closed.

Here we found a car campground that is not open. It serves as a parking lot for all the would-be Road-to-the-Sun drivers that drive to the end of the road. At 11:15 AM the area was crowded with parked vehicles and it took some time to find a parking space. We walked through the Avalanche Creek Campground back to the road and discovered a trailhead at “Trail of the Cedars”. We began to follow this trail on the south side of Avalanche Creek following it southeast and upstream. In about a half mile we came to a bridge that crossed the creek to the north side.

At this point there is a fork at the beginning of a two-mile trail that follows Avalanche Creek and climbs southeast up into the Avalanche Basin to Avalanche Lake. The trail has an elevation climb of 550′. That is not at all bad and normally I would do it. But I’ve been so sedentary this past year. It is shameful to admit but I can hardly walk a mile without getting stiff and sore. Dennis recently discovered that he has bersitis in his left leg and he had a shot for the pain a month ago. He says the pain is coming back so I didn’t hear him urging me upwards and onwards, although if I’d said, “let’s do it” he would have readily agreed.

We stayed on the Trail of the Cedars which loops around the last segment of Avalanche Creek before the creek dumps into McDonald Creek at the trailhead and the campground. The bridge is set in front of a series of waterfalls or cataracts that cascade down the cliffs that rim this river valley and the trail on the north side. A lot of money was invested into this one-mile nature trail loop. The north side of the creek is a deck of planks that is raised above the damp and densely vergetative forest floor. All along our walk northwest and downstream on this elevated deck, we saw signs that identified the primary trees along the path. It is a beautiful and poetic walk available to all, including those in a wheelchair.





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