Goin' to Montana Soon: Arrival at Lake McDonald
Tuesday, August 2, I had an easy flight from San Francisco to
Kalispell, Montana. I changed planes in Seattle and while there,
took advantage of "Laptop Lane" business center to participate
in a business phone conference. Outrageously expensive, at $37
for 45 minutes or something like that, but it was important to me
to be in on this phone call.
In Kalispell, the Alamo person happily gave me the keys to a car full
of gas. The airport people unloaded my luggage for me in a reasonable
amount of time. I think we should take this moment to recognize what
a miracle of EZ Living we enjoy - amazing conveniences - not that we
did all that much to deserve it.
I don't think it was all of a half hour to the south edge of
Lake McDonald, where I first started my week-long swooning over
Montana and Canada. That area of Glacier National Park is called
Apgar, and there's a "village" (fake) and various campgrounds (real)
and a tourist information center and all that. The village consists
of about 6 stores, competing with each other to sell you the most
tourist crap as possible. I tried to focus on postcards, but I
admit I couldn't pass up the foot-in-diameter "bear's claw paw-mark"
cast in what must be iron, it's so heavy. It's completely ridiculous.
I will just put it on my floor somewhere.
- My first view of Glacier National Park - from the south end of Lake McDonald.
- The cabin
I stayed in, as part of Lake McDonald Lodge. There were 6 rooms in
the cabin, but we were mostly insulated from each other. In fact, I
figured at most 2 of the 6 rooms were occupied on August 2, despite
overhearing the woman at the Registration Desk say to someone "Nope,
we're all full."
cabins #8 - #3 (and beyond) were more rustic looking, all hewn logs
that like, but our cabin had a most excellent large front porch.
- I walked
twenty feet down a wooded corridor to the lake's edge (where you could
walk up the length of the lake for a good long ways). Turning to my
right, this was the view. I actually brought my laptop down to the
pebbly beach and did some writing.
- The view
across hthe lake from where I sat. I tested the water - definitely
swimmable - I cursed myself for forgetting my swimsuit.
looking slightly to the south. (Virtual south.)
Wednesday, August 3:
- What a
burn looks like. "Burn" is the shorthand name for a forest that went
through a fire. I tried to walk up to the Apgar Lookout (supposedly
has great views) but foolishly didn't have near enough water with me.
It was steep, and exposed to the hot sun (this being a burn ...) and
about an hour from summit, I realized I had almost no water left.
Reluctantly I turned around. But a dehydrated mrm is not a good
- This is
also what a burn looks like. The profusion of growth, dozens of
species, along the forest floor was heartening. You can see the
forest re-growing itself. What logging proponents don't realize: a
burn puts minerals into the forest. After the fire, so many different
kinds of plants flourish, and give sustenance to so many kinds of
animals. This is NOT what happens in the aftermath of a logging
clearcut. Those forests do not regenerate.
- A pebbly clear stream. Art Shot (tm).
Thursday, August 4:
waterfall off the Trail-to-the-Cedars path. This is a very short
tourist walk that almost everyone stops at. It takes you through
- One specimen:
I would say this cedar is about 6 foot across, at the base. These guys
grow to be some several hundred years old, and several hundred feet high,
and perhaps 7 feet across at the base.
- I took
the famous Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier National Park (also
the only road through the park), which is full of jaw-dropping vistas.
I didn't pull off for any photo-ops as traffic was bumper-to-bumper.
I did pull off into Logan's Pass, site of a nice 3-mile walk, and a visitor's
center since this is where the Continental Divide does Montana. Well,
this must be on everyone's to-do list, as it was impossible to park.
I rather ironically got the parking lot along with the massive stone
peak. I took this from the car, idling, waiting for cars to budge.
- Another stone
peak, unemcumbered by cars idling.
- OK, I couldn't
resist a bit more anthropology.
- Un autre. Some day I will figure out the names of all these and update the web pages.
- Mike: this one's for you! If that isn't a glacial bowl, I don't know what is.
sights from along the Going-to-the-Sun road. (There is also a pale
ale beer named Going-to-the-Sun.)
past the Continental Divide, traffic went from bumper-to-bumper to
nothing. I pulled off at Sun Point - acres of parking. Maybe 4 cars
there. A brief .1 mile walk takes you to Sun Point, which give a
lookout along St. Mary's Lake. This is a sneak preview.
- On the way to
Sun Point - St. Mary's lake.
- From Sun
Point, looking west (or virtual west) onto St. Mary's lake.
- The cute little
island is named Wild Goose Island.
looking east from Sun Point - you can almost feel the shift in
landscape from Pacific Northwest craggy peaks to rounded-off plains.
- Need I
say - the Art Shot (tm). By the way, it was hot hot hot all week -
upper 80s or 90s - but not humid at all. In fact, very breezy. But
you didn't see too many people sitting out in the sun. Shade was
popular. Also by the way, the sun really does glint like that on
all the lakes and streams, almost dizzying.
- A half mile in
the other direction from Sun Point are these falls.
- A bit
- By now my
car is headed solidly east, out of the park. This massive structure
compelled me to stop. Again - absolutely no traffic anymore.
- The boat launch
in front of the Many Glacier Hotel. The Many Glacier area is a separate
part of the park - you leave the park, drive north a bit, and then hang
a left and within 20 minutes you're at Many Glacier. If you go this route,
be sure to stop at the Park Cafe in St. Mary's (town).
- One of
the big guys, as seen from the Many Glacier Hotel porch.
- And then
aiming a bit to the left (virtual south). You can see why a person
gets jaded?! The mountains and the lakes are too amazing, everywhere
- A bit of
human perspcetive, or, why the benches in the sun were always full,
despite peoples' understandable desire to seek out shade.
- Sunset in front
of the Many Glacier Hotel. Art Shot (tm).
Last modified: Sunday, August 8, Prince of Wales Lodge, and yes they
will give me a 6 a.m. wake-up call so I can get on the road in good
time and be sure to make it to Logan's Pass before the parking lot
fills up. Those of you who know me know what a statement this is!