Tag Archives: West Glacier

Two Medicine Lake in East Glacier
June 8, 2015
West Glacier, MT, One week in KOA West Glacier, #165
Eight years in our bus.
In the morning I glimpsed a ghostly horse standing in the woods near our camp site.

In the morning I glimpsed a ghostly horse standing in the woods near our camp site.

FRIDAY, JUNE 5. TWO MEDICINE LAKE AND GLACIER LODGE.

We love our location here. The KOA is a large park and we’re at the far end in a pull-thru with no neighbors. Looking through the couch window (passenger side) I see lawn and small to large planted trees and empty sites. Straight ahead of us is a large enclosed pet run. so I can see out my desk window (driver side) and look past empty pull-thru sites towards some cabins and then a thin wall of pines that marks the end of the property. It is very quiet here.

On our first morning I went outside early with the dogs and saw a strange sight. At the property line is a grove of pines with tall thin trunks. Standing just behind these trees was a white horse. He stood very still and the effect on a misty morning was eerie and other worldly. I later saw the the private property has a nearly invisible electric fence that encloses a small band of horses.

Our neighbors are from Monterey in CA and have two sites to accomodate their trailer, boat and pickup truck to gether with other camping paraphanalia that take up space. Their daughter and family live in the area and they are building a home nearby to spend summers with family. They bought unimproved land and it’s taken a long time to clear it and get the permits and make it ready for habitation. They are almost done.

I began to regret our missed opportunity to hike up to the Avalanche Basin. I knew it would be a beautiful hike. I talked to this neighbor who described hiking up the same trail with his dad. They came face to face with a grizzly and there was a standoff while they stared at the bear who stared at them. Finally the grizzly let out a loud “woof” and charged sideways therough the underbrush “sounding like a tank”. My neighbor impressed upon me that we must carry “Bear Spray” if we want to hike. He said he talked to bikers who went up the closed portion of Road-to-the-Sun. They saw nine bears on their ride. They called it quits when they came up against a grizzly mother with a cub. She was clearly not in a negotiating mood so they turned back. This story altered my enthusiasm about hiking up to Avalanche Lake.

We stop to look a a waterfall next to US Rte 2 in East Glacier.

We stop to look a a waterfall next to US Rte 2 in East Glacier.

Mid-morning today, we left to make a scenic drive to the east side of Glacier Park. This is familiar territory because in August ’08 we stayed in East Glacier. On our way to East Glacier, we stopped briefly at the Isaac Walton Hotel where we recalled our walks around the railroad depot. Continuing east we passed by Goat Lick and Bear Creek, which we’ve seen before. We did stop at a waterfall by the road near MM 189. We also stopped at Glacier Meadows RV Park where we spoke to Connie who was our host when we stayed there. We asked if the cell phone or Wi-Fi situation had improved since then. To our astonishment, it hasn’t. You still have to walk to the cell phone tower to make or receive a call and there is no Wi-Fi at all.

Turning north on MT-49 we stopped at Glacier Park Lodge where we thought to buy Bear Spray. Essentially this is pepper spray contained in a little canister that fits into a holster that you fasten to your belt. The price at the lodge was $49.00. We decided to pass. How often will we need it and when would we ever have an occasion to use it in Morgan Hill?

We continued north and wound our way past Lower Two Medicine Lake, which is the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. We parked above at Two Medicine Lake. The scenery here is unbelieveably gorgeous. There is a tourboat that takes you out on the lake and a store but the season starts tomorrow — on Saturday. The store was once a part of a larger chalet complex and the building is a National Historic Landmark.

Sinopah Mt. sits at the north end of Medicine Lake.

Sinopah Mt. sits at the north end of Medicine Lake.

From the parking area facing west down the length of the lake, the perfect cone of Sinopah Mountain sets off the beauty of the lake. On the north side, the steep south face of Rising Wolf Mountain towers above the lake. Ths was sacred ground for the Blackfeet who performed Vision quests here.

The lake is a starting point for many hiking trails leading west and north. Upper Two Medicine Lake is a four mile hike. We looked at the trails going up into the mountains and paralleling the lake. The signs said that we “must” take Bear Spray. We decided against a hike. Too bad!

On our way back we stopped again at Glacier Park Lodge where we had lunch in the lounge. Dennis received a call from the office that lasted all during lunch. I ate my BLT wrap and enjoyed a magnificent view of snow covered mountain peaks stretching along the horizon. On the way back to West Glacier we took note of Summit Pass where Rte 2 crosses the Continental Divide. We also stopped at Goat Lick to look for goats who like the minerals in the rock cliffs above the river. We did see one Billy Goat above the highway but no others. We made it back to our KOA just before 5:00 PM.

MONDAY, JUNE 8. TRAIL WALKS WITH THE DOGS

After our drive on Friday, we decided to spend a quiet day in camp. We’e been walking the dogs around the KOA but on Saturday we discovered a trail across the street that is in National Park land. We had walked 20 min on the road past our KOA entrance when we spotted a dirt road and a gate opposite our KOA. It had no signs such as “No Trespassing” or “Private Property”. Beyond the gate were tire tracks that tapered down to a narrow trail. We walked north and along the way we saw poles that said we were on National Forest Land. The marked the divider between park and private land. We came to other trails and saw that they are regularly used horse trails.

After half an hour, we turned around and returned southward on the same trails. It was so much more preferable to be on a trail then in the campground or by the road. Yet we had little fear of bears as we were also near private land and the forest land was cleared and logged leaving an open vista with trees and meadows. It is a fairly domesticated area and not near water or berries or game. Door-to-door we walked about an hour and a quarter. Dennis had his iPhone set to a walking calculator. The app said that we’d walked 2.02 mi at 1.64 mph with an elevation gain of 250 ft.

This was hardly Olympian but upon our return, we both lay down and fell asleep. So did the dogs. They wore themselves out galloping back and forth on their 20′ extended leashes. For dinner Dennis cooked four turkey legs in his cooker and we had baked potatoes and vegetables and we ate at our picnic table. So far we haven’t been bothered by horse flies or mosquitoes.

Well guess what we did on Sunday? We broke down and bought bear spray. It was $5 cheaper in West Glacier at the Glacier Outdoor Center. They also showed us how to pull back the safety catch. They advised us to spray in short bursts and start by aiming low and doing short bursts working upward. The spray works within a distance of thirty feet. I said, “What’s 30 feet?” Dennis and the sales people all had different ideas about a distance of thirty feet. I got a giggle out of that.

We went to Conoco for fuel and then stopped at the Alberta Visitor Center. Inside we talked to Muriel who was fabulous. She gave us maps and brochures and told us all the stuff we should see in and around Banff. She was a huge help. Next we stopped at Nat’l Geographic Parks Books where I scored a few books on US parks and how to identify northwest trees, flowers and birds. Last we got a few groceries at West Glacier Mercantile.

Margot and Rudi loved our walks on National Forest trials near our KOA in West Glacier.

Margot and Rudi loved our walks on National Forest trials near our KOA in West Glacier.

On Monday we decided to take the dogs for a longer walk on the same trail. We left at 11:00 AM and this time I got serious. I wore my walking shoes and took my hiking purse with water and I set my GPS app on my iPhone. We repeated our horse trail walk in Nat’l Park lands but this time we headed straight for the trail and we walked farther and longer on the trail. Dennis carried our bear spray and I soon concluded that it would do Rudi and me no good whatsoever since we tend to lag behind. Margot and Dennis like to be in the lead. If I stay too close to Dennis, Rudi pulls on the leash and tries to heal on Dennis. So I stay far enough back so that Rudi is happy to run and and forth or heel behind me. We heard birds but saw no sign of life on this trail. Still, what if a hungry coyote or something larger decides to pounce on Rudi? It’s pretty hard for a 13 lb. dog to defend himeself when he’s on a leash.

 

Aside from wild animal considerations I enjoyed our walk. This time we walked an hour and a half at an average speed of 1.8 mph and we walked 2.4 miles. I had swollen ankles and muscle cramps to show for my sudden athletic endeavors.

LFAB is about to go public. I spent the rest of the day added to my letters and uploading photos. Tomorrow we will move northward and enter Canada.

All Things McDonald in West Glacier
June 5, 2015
West Glacier, MT, Three days in KOA West Glacier, #165
Eight years in our bus.
ElDen Cataract_sm

We are standing at a lookout point along McDonald Creek.

THURSDAY, JUNE 4. WE EXPLORE MCDONALD CREEK AND ROAD.

After our walk on Trail of the Cedars we began our drive back on Road-to-the-Sun.  We had walked along Avalanche Creek and saw it drop into the larger McDonald Creek.  On our drive back to McDonald Lodge we were able to see McDonald Creek and Canyon. The road is on the southeast side of the creek so it was on our right side and convenient for stopping at all the pullouts and lookouts to take photos from the cliffs above this spectacular river.

Somewhere downstream from McDonald Creek Overlook we overlooked a trail that goes down to a bridge that crosses the creek. I’d like to go back to see that. At the north end of Lake McDonald we turned west onto McDonald Road. Here we passed a trail head that probably goes up to the bridge on the northwest side of McDonald Creek.

We didn’t stop but continued on McDonald Rd., which became a single lane dirt road as we bent south following the western shore of the lake. We followed this road for twenty minutes passing a ranger station and some cabins and several times pulling over at a wider spot to let a car pass us from the opposite direction. Above us reaching up to Howe Ridge we passed thousands of dead tree trunks, sentinenls testifying to the giant forest fire of 2003. Beneath them the ridge is blanketed with green shrubbery. The road stopped at the trailhead of McDonald Lake Trail that continues southwest above the edge of the lake. We took some photos and returned back down to Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Lake McDonald Reflections_sm

McDonald Lake seen from shoreline near the lodge.

At 1:45 PM we parked at Lake McDonald Lodge and as luck would have it, they were still serving lunch in the dining room. I love these giant wood lodges with their great beams. It’s fun to sit in a restaurant surrounded by the history of the lodge and with views of mountains and rivers. I chose a smoked salmon appetizer and a small vegetarian Caesar salad. Dennis had a bison burger. After lunch we bought some trail maps in the gift shop and then walked around the property and down to the gravel shore of the lake where there are lovely views of Sprague Creek pouring into the lake.

This five and a half hour outing was more than enough for us and we were glad to get back to the dogs and our campsite at 4:00 PM.

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.

TUESDAY, JUNE 2. WE DRIVE TO WEST GLACIER, MT.

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.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3. RAINY DRIVE ALONG LAKE MCDONALD

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.

THURSDAY, JUNE 4. DRIVE TO 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.