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.

  1. My first view of Glacier National Park - from the south end of Lake McDonald.

  2. 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."

  3. The cabins #8 - #3 (and beyond) were more rustic looking, all hewn logs that like, but our cabin had a most excellent large front porch.

  4. 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.

  5. The view across hthe lake from where I sat. I tested the water - definitely swimmable - I cursed myself for forgetting my swimsuit.

  6. Sunset, looking slightly to the south. (Virtual south.)

    Wednesday, August 3:

  7. 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 thing.

  8. 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.

  9. A pebbly clear stream. Art Shot (tm).

    Thursday, August 4:

  10. A waterfall off the Trail-to-the-Cedars path. This is a very short tourist walk that almost everyone stops at. It takes you through old-growth cedars.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Another stone peak, unemcumbered by cars idling.

  14. OK, I couldn't resist a bit more anthropology.

  15. Un autre. Some day I will figure out the names of all these and update the web pages.

  16. Mike: this one's for you! If that isn't a glacial bowl, I don't know what is.

  17. More sights from along the Going-to-the-Sun road. (There is also a pale ale beer named Going-to-the-Sun.)

  18. Oddly, 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.

  19. On the way to Sun Point - St. Mary's lake.

  20. From Sun Point, looking west (or virtual west) onto St. Mary's lake.

  21. The cute little island is named Wild Goose Island.

  22. Now, looking east from Sun Point - you can almost feel the shift in landscape from Pacific Northwest craggy peaks to rounded-off plains.

  23. 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.

  24. A half mile in the other direction from Sun Point are these falls.

  25. A bit more context.

  26. By now my car is headed solidly east, out of the park. This massive structure compelled me to stop. Again - absolutely no traffic anymore.

  27. 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).

  28. One of the big guys, as seen from the Many Glacier Hotel porch.

  29. 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 you turn.

  30. A bit of human perspcetive, or, why the benches in the sun were always full, despite peoples' understandable desire to seek out shade.

  31. Sunset in front of the Many Glacier Hotel. Art Shot (tm).

Marianne Mueller
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!