Journey through Glacier National Park
Our idea was to enter the Glacier National Park and go through what gave us time on the road that runs through it. Although the sky remained quite covered, but at least it stopped raining. When we arrived at Radium Hot Springs we made a technical stop and took the opportunity to buy some sandwiches. To recover some time, we were eating them along the way. Slowly the miles were falling and we realized we were arriving at the border with the United States. As you can imagine, we left the camera in the back seat so there would not be any misunderstandings.
When we arrived at the Roosville border crossing there were not many cars so we did not have to wait long. Of course, we had time to read all the notices that were on the posters. The one that put us most nervous was the one that said that everything that had been bought outside the United States had to be declared.
The agent asked us where we came from, where we were going, if we had bought something. We explained that we were going to spend a couple of days in Montana and then return. The police looked surprised. We clarified that we would first stop in Minneapolis. Regarding the issue of purchases, we said that we had only bought gifts. And the truth is that we were not lying.
We continue on US93 through Whitefish, Columbia Falls and finally we reach Coram, the small town where our lodging was for the next two nights. In addition to single rooms and individual cabins the site has a huge place to park caravans. At the reception we were met by a very nice man who explained where our room was. He also asked us about our trip and what we were going to see in Montana. When we told him we were just passing through, he told us that the Glacier National Park was very good.
Finally he recommended a couple of places that he knew for dinner and breakfast. We went to locate the site for dinner and it was on the same road in the direction of Columbia Falls less than 3 kms away. We were back in the United States with the food, the atmosphere, and the people!
We started to regain consciousness at 7:00 am accompanied by the sound of rain hitting the outside of our little cabin in Twin Butte. With the prospect of a breakfast at 8:30 and the almost total assurance that today we will not be able to visit practically anything due to the severe weather over Glacier NP, we are in no hurry to get up, not even to start preparing our luggage.
Through the windows, in addition to the expected drops of water glued to the glass, we see an unknown car that must belong to our neighbors, although we have not heard their arrival during the night. We stretched and reviewed photographs and videos with special attention to those of the bears a few hours ago while the interior of the cabin is lit up slowly by natural light.
When we planned the trip, we thought it was not a good idea to cross the border the same day we had the flight, just in case there was something unforeseen. That's why we prefer to spend the last part of our trip in the United States. The planning for today was very simple and quiet.
We knew that we were not going to be able to go through it as we had read on the park's website that from September 21 they close the Logan pass to fix the road. The first thing we did was go to breakfast where they had recommended us at the typical roadside bar. What a breakfast!
We were not aware of what we had ordered until they brought it to us. For breakfast today we have some spectacular french toasts. With maple syrup and, for those who tolerate it, a little bacon or butter on top, are a first bite of the exquisite day. Our new neighbors and dinner companions are a nice couple on honeymoon from Texas.
Once we had breakfast and with a full belly, we went to the park entrance. When we arrived at the port, the person who answered us told us that the National Public Lands Day was celebrated. The entrance to the park was free, so we saved the entrance cost.
Although we were warned at the entrance, a few kilometers there were signs that warned of the works and that the road was cut 50 km later.
The truth is that the weather did not favour us as the sky became increasingly gray with clouds that did not bode well. In addition the temperature was at 3 degrees.
So we continued forward and when the road allowed, we stopped to enjoy the scenery and take some pictures. One of the photos that follows is from the Bird Woman Falls (293 mts). The glacier that is just above is one of those that provides water to the waterfall.
And as announced, upon arriving at Logan Pass, we found the road closed. Also, since we were already out of season, the visitor center was also closed so we could not do much.
From this point a lot of trails come out, but as the weather was so bad (at the top the fog was quite thick), we did not try to do any trail.
Seeing that things did not improve, we decided to go down to the lower altitude areas to see if, at least, there was not so much fog. And although we had some downpour, we were able to make several stops to take pictures of what most caught our attention, like the little waterfall from Logan Creek.
While we were going down we came across one of the attractions of the park: the famous red tourist bus. As we did not have another plan until lunchtime, we stopped by the lookouts that we found on the road. Most were spots where there was some waterfall.
Lunchtime caught us near Lake Mcdonald, so we took advantage of it to buy some refreshments and eat the sandwiches we had bought in the morning.
After lunch we made another attempt to climb Logan Pass to see if the weather had improved somewhat, but just the opposite. The fog had become even thicker and the traffic on the road became a bit dangerous, so we decided to go back to the room and gradually prepare our bags.
Although we had to do an engineering work, in the end we got all the suitcases closed, although some little thing had to stay there. After going out to dinner (we repeated the same bar as the day before), we tried to check online to confirm the flight.
We wait from the window for a small break in the downpour that does not stop dropping us to take the luggage to the car without getting soaked. But far from dying, the number of snowflakes that land on the lawn per second increases more and more. So there is no choice but to collect waterproof layers and optimize the travel necessary to bring our bags, backpacks, isothermal bags and shopping bags to the trunk of the Chevy.
While we update the family and social networks, time seems to be even more violent. It does not snow but the rain is strong, which advises driving with great caution. We do this, bypassing the detour to Waterton Lakes and taking the route that will take us, some 40 kilometers later, to the Chief Mountain border crossing.
Fortunately it seems that we are getting ahead of that Canadian storm that promises to wreak havoc in the next few hours, since according to the black clouds are left in our mirrors the driving becomes much more pleasant. Of course, the charming alpine landscape that characterizes this union of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is hidden behind the thick clouds.
We reached the control by which to leave Canada after having discovered and explored it for two weeks. After a mere process of a few seconds with a robust border agent we are already back in the United States of America, nothing more and nothing less than in the first hours. We circulate at 3,000 meters high, not bad for a reunion with the country of the stars and stripes. And during our first kilometers moving south we came across several herds of cows roaming freely on the road.
At a much better pace thanks to a simple rain much less dangerous than the flood with which we started, we reached the scattered houses that form the town of Babb and after passing it we reached the cabin. We found the office closed and some vague directions on how to find the management, but after a couple of laps we managed to find it.
The woman in charge of the complex regrets that our room is not ready yet, because with a storm like today, late departures increase. We pay the remaining half of the reservation and receive the key to the cabin anyway in case we want to leave our luggage, but we decided not to go and have a look until it is ready.
Without much to do due to the storm, we go to the nearby town of St. Mary where one of the two entrances closest to the National Park is located. We reached the visitor center of this access to the complex.
Together with the receipt of our payment they already give us maps and a park guide, a good summary of very useful information during the visit and something that we have missed in the access to Canadian parks. And from the minute zero the difference with the National Parks of Canada is abysmal. The care for the detail, the investment of the American government and the pride for its network of National Parks.
It's something we've never seen anywhere else. We receive a nice room with all kinds of details such as a large screen with the weather forecast, a detailed model of the entire surface of the park, a small museum on the history and fauna of the place and, most surprising, an auditorium with capacity for more than 200 people where every 30 minutes an introductory movie is shown with the benefits of the Glacier National Park.
We take advantage of the Internet connection to reassure the family about the trance on the road that we had to pass. Once the process is completed, we inform our plans and preferences to one of the always willing Rangers before asking for advice about how to distribute the hours that the weather allows us to enjoy the park.
Finally, we look for nearby self-service laundries in order to take advantage of today's circumstances and free ourselves from tasks and messages, thus trying that the next two days are entirely destined to take advantage of the scenario. The predictably charming Ranger who serves us at the counter confirms what we thought was our best option is to reserve for a possible sunny day what we are most interested in seeing at its peak, Hidden Lake Overlook.
We trust that when tomorrow at noon the worst of the storm we can attend our second most priority option Grinnell Glacier or Iceberg Lake, with her sharing our opinion that, although it is worthwhile to travel both. We approach the St. Mary Falls after a moderately short walk under a rain that will not disappear in the next few hours. We will follow your advice but before that you have to eat, which has already passed 13:00.
After a couple of failed attempts stopping next to coffee shops that turn out to be closed we tried our luck in the cafe. It is located door to door with a hotel with similar prices to our cabin that once ruled out by the horrible reviews it has received on Tripadvisor.
We entered the premises, which in reality is more a family restaurant than a cafeteria, and a rustic interior awaits us with nothing that seems forced or artificial thinking about tourists. Two waitresses are on duty, one urging us to take a seat and one that takes our order.
We ignore the Sunday special of fried chicken dish with soup and several sauces and we decided on a hamburger with cheese and what they say here as banana peppers, which is a very powerful type of pepper. The burgers are delicious as my mouth burns. The potatoes taste good and the enigmatic soup does indeed carry everything, including meat that gives it the appearance of stew.
There is no choice but to accompany it with soft drinks and water since alcohol is not served locally. We ended up satisfied and paying, including the tip. Now, let's try to get something out of this decaffeinated welcome to Glacier National Park with a short and accessible tour. After about 10 miles behind the wheel with how nice it was to think about kilometers we found the parking lot from which the path leads to St. Mary's Falls, a route that crosses mostly a forest that year Last burned after an incident in a picnic area.
However, as we would know later, the incident apparently had positive consequences for the ecosystem since the nature of the forest was dead anyway. Among the charred trees, the low visibility due to the rain and fog and the sleet that at times tightens strongly, is one of the most grotesque excursions of our trip.
Covered up to the eyebrows with supposed waterproof clothes some pieces more than others and after about half an hour dodging puddles and slippery stones we reached the bridge and the natural viewpoint in front of the falls. And they are not bad, but circumstances do not invite us to enjoy this goal more than about ten minutes.
From this bridge and adding another kilometer and a half more the road leads to other waterfalls, but as we know nothing about them. We decided not to take the risk. It's time to go back to the car, dying to get rid of a layer of clothing that is already completely soaked and that has not completely isolated our inner clothing from the ravages of the rain.
It's 4:00 pm when we're back inside the vehicle, and we take advantage of the fact that it's about an hour before we close the St. Mary's Visitor Center to make a new stop during which we reconnect to the Internet and request a brochure specific with information about all the excursions of the park.
Something before 5:00 p.m. is the time to discover at last how is our cabin number 5. It is not hard for us to find it following the indications that its owner gave us hours before, and what awaits us there is a construction much wider than that of Drywood Creek with a sofa accompanying the large bed, a bathroom with a slightly smaller prefabricated shower of the desired thing and, first time in the whole trip, without television in sight.
The interior is somewhat cold, so we put the heating with the dual function of warming up and helping us to dry the soaked jackets and boots. The trick works wonders and in just 10 minutes are ready for a new adventure. It's time to buy time for future days by washing clothes at a nearby service, even though the initial intention was to do our last laundry within two days taking advantage of the washer and dryer included in our next accommodation.
The best option that we have found online is a campsite near the entrance to the park by St. Mary's. It costs nothing to find it thanks to the good signage from the main road, and welcomes us with exactly what we needed. There is a room with about 15 washing machines and almost the same dryers, needing for the whole process a total of about five dollars in coins.
In a corner with sofas and TV a few elderly people are enjoying Casablanca in its particular version of neighborhood cinema every Sunday. Attached to the laundry is the gift shop and small grocery store of the camp, modest but enough to get out of a hurry in case of emergency.
In what we wait for the appliances to fulfill their function, Casablanca says goodbye with its titles of credit and the veteran division of the laundry leaves the place. A few minutes later the countdown of our dryer reaches zero and we are ready to pack our things and leave the campsite.
In doing so we see how the weather has improved slightly, stopping the rain at last and slightly increasing the visibility on the horizon, where the countless frozen mountains that make up the Glacier National Park are already sensed. The thing promises and a lot, and it makes us want even more strongly that tomorrow the sky opens and lets us see that wonder that is surrounding us without being aware of it.
We only have to go back to our cabin number five and prepare dinner, which this time will rely mainly on our particular microwave since the cold, humidity and muddy ground do not invite to make round trips to the common hut with full kitchen and dining room. We just stopped by her to get a can opener and a couple of cups and spoons for breakfast tomorrow, and found inside a London girl who immediately guesses our origin.
We dined pasta with tuna and a canned clam chowder, that cream of clams typical in the two coasts and that can be consumed in a low cost version in the rest of the country thanks to the supermarket preserves. Along with a couple of beers, a coffee with milk and a cookie for dessert we closed the dinner service.
It is 9:30 pm when we are ready to see one or two episodes of Masterchef before turning off the lights. Tomorrow, if everything goes as we expect, at noon the sky should give the starting signal to finally enjoy Glacier NP in all its splendor. We do not see the moment of that happening.
It seems that an eternity has passed since that good night when we rested surrounded by the comfort of a room of the inn facing the Athabasca Glacier. Things have changed a lot since then. Much more ground travel, many more wonders seen and here we are, after 22:00 in a mysterious cabin. It is the same cabin that we arrived yesterday. This part of the mystery does not make much sense. B
It is a quiet and clear night outside with the threat of frost during the night. Our feet beg for a bit of rest, and that has been a hard day. Not that we expected a path of roses, but the truth is that the effort has been somewhat greater than we imagined. Of course, the effort has had a reward according to its magnitude. What reward is that? Let's start from the beginning.
The Visitor Center of St. Mary receives us much more solitary than yesterday despite having been open since 8:00, but as the minutes pass with us sitting near the heater and laptop in hand begins to populate visitors. The forecast is good, again indicating that at 12:00 the sun will begin to appear.
Our reentry to the park has informed us that the Going to the sun road, precisely the road that starts in St. Mary and crosses Glacier National Park, has a section closed by the storm a few miles ahead. However, it does not affect us since our planned excursion for today is born in Many Glacier, another nerve center of the park which is accessed by another entrance a few kilometers to the north.
We spent more time than expected inside the visitor center, watching with hope as the clouds are rising little by little and even begin to show the snowy mountains. We take advantage of the discreet but sufficient Internet connection to gather new episodes of television, starting with the premiere of the last season of Masters of Sex. Evenings without television or Internet in the cabin can be very long and all entertainment is welcome. Loosely passed 10:00 we decided that it is already good and we set course.
About 30 kilometers separate us from the car park we are looking for. Going through them takes us a bit longer than expected because the road that enters Glacier on this side presents several sections that urgently need a review, with potholes that will end up being expensive one day to a car rental company. We arrived safe and sound and around 11:00 we left the car sheltered until the eyebrows to face the challenge of the day. We're going to Grinnell Glacier.
Until the last moment we kept open the debate about which excursion to use today's day. The Glacier National Park has itineraries to give and take, enough to justify staying in its surroundings for more than a week. Unfortunately the budget and days available for vacations are limited, and that conditioned our passage through here to only three days. One of them, yesterday, was almost completely ruined by bad weather.
Another of them, that of tomorrow with guarantees of good weather, is reserved for what is our most priority excursion. That leaves us today to dedicate it to another great excursion, meaning anybody that passes more than 10 kilometers and requires ascending several hundred meters along that distance.
Two candidates came to the grand final after our research on Glacier National Park: one was Iceberg Lake and the other Grinnell Glacier. Both began their journey from nearby points, accessing the park through the access of Many Glacier that we have just crossed. Both had respectable distances and ascents, although Grinnell was winning by an additional three or four kilometers between the round trip and something more to overcome.
And most of all, the big difference is that while the trip to Iceberg Lake consists mainly of visiting the glacier lake at the end of the road, which is no small feat, with the Grinnell Glacier Trail we were going to have the complete package. It also awaits us at the goal a glacier lake with the corresponding mass of ice on it, but its itinerary seems to be willing to other sights and attractions that give it more variety than its competitor.
So after weighing pros and cons and after verifying that even a Ranger from the visitor center provided the same reasons as we did, the Grinnell Glacier proclaimed itself the winner. And there we go with nine kilometers to go, another nine to return, and between one thing and the other a difference of over 500 meters that we must overcome to reach the end of the road.
The first four kilometers take place around the lake Swiftcurrent first and leaving behind the Lake Josephine to our left. The landscapes that it presents are already noteworthy although we hope that on our return the sky, still covered at this time, will have been uncovered and that will improve still more the postcard. But the worrying thing is the little, almost null rise of those first 4,000 meters.
That means that the more than 500 meters of height to be won will be concentrated in the second half of the route, and greater problems are already pending. Meanwhile, the clouds finally decide to start ascending, clearing the view and giving us more reasons to continue. The temperature begins to rise, so that layers of clothing begin to be left over, which we must either keep in the backpacks or tie at the waist.
We passed by the detour that would take us to Grinnell Lake, a lake fed by the waters of the glacier that should not be confused with the real glacier lake, that which lies at the foot of the frozen surface collecting its mass in the form of liquid. When we passed the milestone of the five kilometers, small concentrations of snow began to appear on the vegetation that we left on both sides.
When we have overcome the six kilometers the shy snow has become a complete protagonist of the landscape, invading treetops and branches of trees and accumulating in thicknesses of between three and six centimeters. We spot several specimens of goat in the distance Big Horn. Also called ram of the rocky and characterized by huge horns in the form of ensaimada on his head.
We met a photographer with the appearance of a professional, equipped with a camera and telephoto of those that cost several months' income and showing a calm and tranquility that only someone who has spent hundreds of hours in solitude waiting for the moment to take the perfect snapshot can get.
When the count is over seven kilometers and we have even started to leave Grinnell Lake from above, the glacier begins to appear on the horizon beyond the timid but extensive waterfall that connects both points. At eight kilometers, with many meters already at the back of unevenness and uneven terrain full of roots and rocks with slippery aspect, one begins to wonder how much more you must tighten your teeth before reaching the goal.
The snow covering everything has stopped surprising, being assimilated into the landscape. And finally, after a final 600 meters that put your energy reserves to the test, the steepest slope of the day and a zig-zag finish ready to break your legs, there we have it.
A lustrous example of an ice block that rises beyond the horizon until it reaches almost to our feet, only interrupted by a precipice in which the ice turns into water and this precipitates into a lake completely calm. Grinnell Glacier is considered a modern glacier since it was not discovered until 1887, and yet it suffers like all the unstoppable advance of climate change with its icy surface receding several meters year after year.
We have been successful with our decision that relegated the visit to Glacier to the last days of the trip. To witness this during the first days would have reduced much impact to the rest of the nature attractions visited, which, although admirable, can not be required to compete with this monstrosity.
The untainted white of snow and ice not as in Athabasca, where we almost saw more brown than white from the exploitation of the glacier.The setting with snowy trees where only the sleigh of Santa Claus pulled by Rudolf are missing of the three lakes to overcome before reaching this goal in the heights. Everything contributes to the arrival at Grinnell Glacier from the minute one well, after recovering the breath for the final ascent.
Reaching the top of the Grinnell Glacier Trail is not synonymous with reaching the end of the road. There are still about 200 meters that now seem like a walk to reach the very shore of the glacier lake. And it is then, when it expands before you, when you realize that more than half of the lake remains static for a reason. It is frozen, covered by a very thin layer of ice, surely unable to bear the slightest weight on it.
This is the place to drop the backpack, look for a relatively comfortable stone and observe in silence. And after doing it and before moving on to the submachine gun of photos and videos, take hold of those sandwiches that we have loaded on our backs and so deservedly we have won. We recover the layers of clothing lost during the climb, and it is that the thermal sensation is not the same stopped that in march.
It is not cold that makes us want to go back indoors, but this amount of snow and ice does not stay solid for no reason. While we savored both the views and the food we heard the crunching of some piece of ice that has broken in the distance and that none of the seven or eight visitors present dares to interrupt with his voice.
Between the climb and the visit to the finish line, it was already past 4:00 p.m. We better start to return if we do not want the sunset, and therefore the perfect time for bears to roam the areas with vegetation, reach us in full return. We allow ourselves one last look with which to leave the scene engraved on our retina and we turn around.
As always, the return becomes heavier after disappearing that feeling of approaching the unknown. And with nine kilometers ahead there is a lot of time to start getting bored, although the sky and the sun are much more optimal than during the ascent, it brings some incentive to the way back. We try to cope with it in the best possible way, making a photo here and there, chatting, joking.
We almost forgot that constant warning that must be had when walking through the area until we come across something. In the exact center of the road a mass with the appearance of vomit but of improper dimensions to come from a human being rests on the ground. In addition you can clearly distinguish in it dozens, almost hundreds of those small red berries that apparently both attract both black bears and grizzly.
We would remember perfectly having come across something like this during the climb, so the animal indigestion may have passed through here four hours or four minutes ago. Needless to say, from that moment we increased the pace and began to speak at a much greater volume and with a tension in the voice unpublished until now.
Following the recommendations of the park we alternate the chat with slaps. I even clap my hands singing the first song that comes to mind, in this case one of the Beatles. Spotify in special version for bears, very soon available for long nights of hibernation.
We passed the section with the highest probability of bears sighting and we allowed ourselves to begin to relax again. We reached, and it is getting very long back at this point, the pier of Lake Josephine where a boat passes the day crossing the water from shore to shore for those who want to shorten slightly the distance on foot to the glacier although the height to win remains the same.
The boat has been parked for more than an hour without any sign of moving again until tomorrow, but the lake offers us one of the best mirror effects of the trip reflecting with almost total precision the snow-capped peaks before it.
We complete the nine kilometers back looking sideways at the huge façade of the hotel, on the other side of the last lake that borders. It's 7:20 when we can finally get rid of almost half of the costumes and get back into the car, with a temperature of four degrees that is hardly a difference compared to two degrees Celsius with which we started the tour six hours ago.
We do not have time for more and, although we had it, probably we would not consider going any further. We knew it was going to be a tough stage but being a linear route without as many stops as the circular itinerary of Lake Louise has made it more tired than the effort of that day. We said goodbye to the area and therefore to Many Glacier under a sky that, now,
I would still like to give us access to Many Glacier with two presents before we finally said goodbye. First with a new sighting of a bear in freedom, this time about five miles from the entrance to the park and without possibility of immortalizing it with a camera that rests in the trunk.
Shortly after our arrival the bear decides that there has already been enough function and starts to gallop downhill, in the direction of one of the countless lakes that accompany the road. Second, the last rays of light of the day coincide with our last miles before reaching the main road, giving us the excuse for a last stop in which to contemplate the different shades that the sky adopts before the watchful eye of the Many Glaciers, literal translation of Many Glacier.
It is 8:00 pm when we have left Many Glacier behind, and we do it to park at the supermarket open until 10:00 pm between the four buildings that make up the town of St. Mary. It is not a Walmart but it has enough to cover basic needs such as precooked food, drinks, snacks or protein for cooking.
Once the process is completed, we return to the parking lot of the Visitor Center of St. Mary, where several dozen cars rest despite the fact that the center has been closed for three hours. Why then so much public influx? Well, because the Internet connection has no schedule and from the parking area closest to the entrance can still be detected. Unemployed in a somewhat precarious way we invested about 15 minutes in updating the networks and knowing about our families. And now,
We reach it just before 9:00 p.m. and with the right energies. Today's dinner, which consists of two separate chicken dishes with different preparations and microwaved noodles, tastes great despite the austerity of its preparation. The shower ends up sinking us in that need of rest after a day that has demanded the best of us, but that has given us in return something that has made it very worthwhile.
It's 23:10, an hour too late for a country like the United States where the prime time of television has already ended, and our only remaining goal is to turn off the lamp and rest to face tomorrow another day. No, I'm not talking about one more day. It is our last day at Glacier, and therefore our last day in the heart of a natural park. After him, only a small tip will remain in the form of roads, shopping centers and urban parks, but nothing comparable to scenarios capable of giving us shows like today.
It's seven in the morning in our cabin number 5 in Babb, Montana. We start the day with a new domestic breakfast that this time includes a breakfast burrito with egg, cheese and sausage heated in the microwave and that fills as much as its composition suggests but is not as tasty as expected.
We look out the window and the sky is blue, blue that amazes. We can already see among the trees some snowy peaks of the environment and it seems that it will be an unbeatable day. But there is something that we overlook and do not remember until we see the state of our vehicle. Tonight a strong frost was predicted and it seems that the prediction has been successful.
When we look at it, our Chevy looks like the Delorean after returning from its first time trip in the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall. It is completely frozen, with a coat that glows in the sun covering crystals and bodywork. We have to use hot cloths to melt the worst part of the crystals and we must push some doors from inside to get them to open. When we started the car the thermometer marked -3 degrees.
We collect our things. We load them in the trunk which also needs a bit of insistence to open up. We left in the communal hut the cups and spoons that we had borrowed for breakfast. It has been a nice accommodation, with somewhat expensive rates but according to the prices of the area.
We head back to St. Mary's where after four miles we refuel what fits in the half-full tank before entering Glacier National Park predictably for the last time. The Ranger of the gate informs us that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is still cut during a stretch that prevents reaching the starting area of excursions from Logan Pass and let's not say our next Columbia Falls lodging on the completely opposite side of the park.
That means that, unless we give considerable detour through the south of the park, for now we are trapped without being able to continue our route. Fortunately we have the already familiar visitor center of St. Mary by our side to offer us shelter and Internet connection while we wait. The sky is still completely clear and in this short period of time the temperature has already risen to one or two degrees above zero, so there is hope that the cut of circulation does not last too long.
It is 10:00 when the park agents update the warning signs of the visitor center, indicating now that it is possible to reach Logan Pass but from there the traffic is still cut. For now it is enough to satisfy our plans, so here we go.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is, being brief, an animated one. With a totally clear sky that makes the conditions are optimal to drive through it, we are unable to pass by not even one of the dozens of viewpoints that happen every few meters. The rodeo that gives the road to a huge valley surrounded by high mountains, including the one we expect to see in a few hours from the Hidden Lake Overlook, make any other route that has the audacity to be called scenic route must rethink if it deserves Title.
We rediscovered the snow despite the fact that the temperature has already risen to a perfectly bearable six degrees Celsius. After about 15 miles from St. Mary reached the huge parking lot of Logan Pass where there is a new visitor center of the park and signs and more signs indicating the large number of routes that hikers can take from here. Indeed the road remains open only here, preventing us from continuing to drive west and truncating our plans to link from here with access to the park by West Glacier that would later take us to our next accommodation.
The traffic is not the only one sacrificed by the frost. The Visitor Center also remains closed, we do not know if for having destined all the personnel to inform of the precautions to take throughout the park or for not being able to guarantee the security in their accesses, since it is built on several floors and the steps to reach the upper floors are completely covered by several centimeters of snow.
In its surroundings the snow becomes ice in the shaded parts, being very inadvisable to try to continue walking on it. The beginning of the road towards Hidden Look Overlook, however, seems to have already been subjected to the efforts of the employees of the park since it is possible to distinguish perfectly a freeway of snow and ice opening hollow along it.
Hidden Lake Overlook is one of the most visited points of Glacier National Park. To reach it requires traveling the two and a half kilometers that separate it from Logan Pass, during which it gains a height somewhat higher than 150 meters. This climb is concentrated in the first kilometer, helped by a series of long stairs and wooden walkways that now present the additional risk of ice waiting for the smooth soles of an unwary.
As we ascend the landscape that we leave behind becomes colossal and the one in front of us does not detract, with Bearhat Mountain towards which we are heading growing more and more in perspective with each step we take. I am delighted with the change of scenery, because of our habit of starting our trips at the end of August.
Due to the state of the terrain and the precautions against the ice, the two and a half kilometers are slow to travel, which in normal circumstances would be doubled. In doing so, we reached the viewpoint at Hidden Lake. While still magnificent, the landscape is flattened by being covered in snow everywhere.
The photos we saw during our research they showed, along the lake, accumulations of flowers of different and vivid colors on a mantle of vibrant green, giving an amazing amount of nuances to the landscape. However, all that gift for the eyes has been covered by snow, which also threatens to cover parts of the mountainside that normally allow to distinguish its texture.
The viewpoint consists of a wooden walkway of about 10 or 12 meters above which the snow is still far from disappearing despite being constantly trampled by visitors. From here you can continue and descend to the shore of the lake, but this implies two kilometers and 260 meters of descent to advance, which must be overcome, a challenge that does not sound very appetizing knowing the state of the surface.
We begin the return to Logan Pass, still more careful on the catwalks since when tilting the weight forward due to descent the possibility of an untimely slip is even greater. Approaching 14:00 when we reach the parking and both the Visitor Center and the extension of the road are closed to our misfortune. After eating in the car rolls of chicken caesar salad I ask a Ranger what he thinks about waiting a little longer in case he opens the road or starts the long detour to the south.
He informs me that the cut area is only three miles, but the ice that is parked there is resistant to melting and, if at this time of noon it has not yet done so, there is a high probability that it will not do so until the day in the morning.
Highline Trail, another star excursion that is born here and that although we did not plan to complete. We return to our departure point of St. Mary and from there start the route to the south. We say goodbye to Logan Pass a very remarkable 12 degrees that make the experience of stopping again in viewpoints along the Going-to-the-Sun is very pleasant, and something almost mandatory now that the sun is higher and allows us Enjoy the views in the opposite direction to this morning's.
During the march, a new black bear with the appearance of being quite young crosses right in front of the car after which we circulate. We can only see him galloping for three seconds before getting lost in the woods to our left, but with this one there are already five bear sightings in the wild during the whole trip.
Coming from three previous trips where our expectations were not met to be able to see these animals in freedom, it seems that all the luck that we lacked then has been concentrated on this occasion. We made our last stop along the scenic route in the viewpoint to the small islet of the Wild Goose Island, which actually offers much more thanks to the lake that surrounds it.
We arrived at our favorite Visitor Center in St. Mary, where for the umpteenth and last we took advantage of the free Internet connection. Now, yes, there is no choice but to start the unexpected detour. What was going to be 63 miles crossing the park becomes 97 surrounding it from the south, but since it is 3:30 we believe that we still have time to make a raid to the park from that side before moving away in a southwest direction to Columbia Falls.
The landscape of ice and snow immediately gives way to green and brown wastelands with the only trace of white tones on the horizon thanks to the peaks that continue to lean to our right.
The alternative route crosses several towns consisting almost entirely of motor homes with fences to delimit the farms and all kinds of improvised outdoor furniture in what are supposed to be tables, slides and others built with loose pieces. Cars and vans with abandoned appearance can be counted by tens. Of course, perhaps they will be inhabited by charming people, but the appearance of these small towns does not invite you to stop and greet them.
From this side and at this distance, Glacier National Park looks like a theme park. We see in the distance a dense concentration of snowy mountains, but all perfectly delimited by a natural wall of lower mountains and without any relationship with the rest of the landscape, which is rather desert and autumnal. It's like getting close to Port Aventura and seeing the silhouette of the Dragon Khan or the Shambhala surrounded by the absolute nothingness.
Did I say five bear sightings in the wild? Well, there are already six. During the second half of the detour to West Glacier, a couple of black bears try to cross the road seconds before us and the previous truck pass through it. We are surprised that the truck driver has been able to see them from his cabin and stop in time, when the first of the two bears takes advantage of his goal to cross the road and get lost in the vegetation of the left shoulder.
The second one seems to flinch when he sees the traffic and returns to take refuge among the bushes on the right, waiting for the next opportunity to meet with his brother, gang colleague or, you know. At last we reached the signal of West Glacier after an hour and a half of driving that has become heavier than we imagined. We do not waste time and we enter the park on this side, reaching first the south bank of a huge Lake McDonald that accompanies us to our left for nine miles. However, the forest between him and us gives us few opportunities to appreciate its magnificent dimensions.
We continue the march with the intention of reaching the cut of the road from this side and from there start to descend. For this we still have about 20 miles, only three less than it would take us to reach the Logan Pass again on this side if the road was not cut. The tour becomes monotonous.
Well, there may be someone who is passionate about it, but to us more than two miles with only forests on either side of us bores us after the spectacular eastern half of the Going-to-the-Sun of the that we have witnessed this morning. The road takes time to start gaining height but when it does, it does so with a steep slope. Those snowy peaks that are already familiar begin to appear in the distance, but now they seem to be turning their backs on us. We make a single stop before reaching the end,Bird Woman Falls from the car window.
We finally reached that fence with the text of Road Closed which confirms that hours later the stretch that remains to reach Logan Pass continues cut. The closure takes place at the height of the Weeping Wall, a vertical stone wall that for several meters becomes dark due to the fall of water on it, giving it the name of weeping wall.
We have here, next to the parking lot with a lot more people than we expected, a shy but elongated cataract that reaches us from the heights in several sections. However, we are among the few who seem to pay attention to it, since most of those present are more attentive to several rams of the Rockies that are grazing a few tens of meters above our heads. We already saw several of these copies yesterday and a better distance, so we are not as excited as the others.
We started the descent back to West Glacier and unfortunately the time of day is the least suitable for the views that the route could offer us. At 18:33 the sun is already preparing for its farewell to the west, so the viewpoints to the valley, with the river meandering several meters below us, are totally tarnished by the resol. It makes no sense to stop to see the Lake McDonald, since the light would blind us equally if we tried to look at it. We arrived in a short time to West Glacier, where we entered another failed gift shop.
We are already going to Columbia Falls, a small town 17 miles from West Glacier where we can find the room we have rented through Airbnb . Yesterday we contacted the hosts to let them know that our arrival time would be quite late, to which they responded with facilities to access even though they did not return until 9:30 pm. and a list of restaurants in the area could interest us.
Among them was one specializing in meat and, importantly, barbecue pork ribs. That is one of the favorite dishes that I have been waiting to taste since we landed in Seattle, so the decision is almost immediate. Since it is already 8:00 PM we decided to stop in it first and have dinner before discovering our home for tonight.
What we find is a local with a rustic look, something old, and a price list that seems acceptable. We both ordered small portions of ribs, which are more than enough and worthy of their name. The surprise of the dish is a kind of fried bread exclusive to the house that looks like Chinese bread on the outside but inside it tastes like a donut. We went with everything including black beans, coleslaw and baked potatoes with a Pepsi and a Moose Drool for me from Missoula and that is exquisite.
Now we go to the Airbnb house, just six blocks from the restaurant. Despite the difficulties due to the almost complete darkness of the street we managed to locate it but when we tried to enter it we found the surprise that the door is closed despite the fact that the hosts assured us that they would leave it open. It is 21:10 and according to your answer they would be back at 9:30 pm, so we can only wait in the car until at 9:35 p.m. there is a vehicle that stops in front of the house.
Once the question of what had happened was cleared, we can finally enter and reach our room. It is huge, with a bed of an amplitude as we had never seen before, a carpet at his feet and all kinds of tables, drawers and chairs as well as a refrigerator and a microwave. A good router gives us an Internet connection while they leave the bathroom on the ground floor, which is exclusive for us since they use the basement.
It's 22:00 when we can finally shower and lock ourselves in our room to start storing clothes in the depths of our suitcases, since after today our particular winter is over. Tomorrow we have a hard, hard day, as hard as driving about 1,000 kilometers west until we reach the Pacific. Today nature has ended. The scenarios have been up to the task, and now it only remains to think that the end is near. We are almost in it.
There is a risk that you always have to evaluate when you enter a road trip. When cities, parks and other itinerary stops trace a circular route on the map, everything goes smoothly. The search for flights is simpler, the available days are optimized and the rental car does not present any problem as it is returned in the same office (or at least, the same State) in which it was collected. Unfortunately that is not always the usual case, and an example is this trip. Travel the distance from Seattle to Glacier National Park.
Crossing Canada has been a joy, but it presents us with the small problem that we are now almost a thousand kilometers away from the starting square and we must head back towards it. And we have to do it because the alternatives did not work out. Getting our return flight to leave from Montana not only limited the air supply a lot but also added a considerable surcharge to the rental of the transport. So today there are no great landscapes or efforts for the legs. Today it's just about driving for hours on Interstate 90 heading west.
The room rented in Columbia Falls through Airbnb. It has been correct although quite uneven. The stay has already started turbulent because of the misunderstanding that we had 20 minutes waiting in the car the night before. Let's add the impossibility of using the shared kitchen to be affected by the reforms underway inside the house.
And let's finish it with several ambient noises during the night that do not help guests with a light sleep, being especially annoying the sound of the trains that pass a little distance from home. It has not been the best rest of the trip, but some forces have been able to recover.
The objective for this morning was to start up as soon as possible and we achieved it with flying colors. When the clock still shows 7:20 and the car returns to present some ice on it although not in such dramatic amounts as last night we turn on the heat to clear the windows and we hit the road.
Previously our host has recommended some detours and places to visit along the way, but I must admit that we did not pay much attention because we were still stretching and our listening comprehension had yet to wake up. We only have one mission to get to Everett as soon as possible, the city several kilometers north of Seattle that will welcome us on our last two nights of travel.
We began to travel along the first hours of light the state of Montana in the direction of the west. And what does Montana have to offer us one Wednesday morning before they have even opened the shops? Because of the highways that force you to slow down from time to time to cross small villages, meadows, tractors and more meadows and watch cows resting, small deer crossing the road and a small fragment of the Lolo National Forest, the latter being the most attractive our last moments in the state that houses Glacier National Park.
At last the highways of a single lane in each direction end and we connect with Interstate 90, the one that crosses the country from coast to coast very close to the border with Canada. The speed limit goes up to 75 miles per hour and that encourages us with the prospect of being able to discount miles to the destination with greater speed.
We said goodbye to Montana and began to shoot about, according to some license plates of our fellow travelers, the status of the Famous Potatoes. We are in Idaho, the American corner that we already travel on our way to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.
The virtues of the interstate are sometimes interrupted due to the numerous road work, those sections where cones appear, lanes disappear and, what affects us the most, the speed limit is drastically reduced. It is impossible to get rid of them as there are everywhere. Given how numerous these road construction zones are and how difficult it is to distinguish what they are improving or maintaining exactly, I still do not discount the theory that they are excuses that states manufacture to generate employment.
We drive for several kilometers within walking distance of a car that needs a good wash and has a sticker on the back that reads choose Hillary Clinton. It brings us a certain sense of relief, because so far all the posters we had seen circulating in the United States were supportive of her political rival in the presidential campaign, a Donald Trump that needs no introduction.
We made the first stop of the day after a good first pull of something more than 200 miles traveled in more than three and a half hours. Rest is the excuse to drink coffee in the city of Coeur d'Alene. The exterior welcomes us with about 15 degrees that already predict that the temperatures of previous days are a thing of the past. Only nine miles later we make a second stop, this time longer, to settle accounts with the supermarket chain Walmart.
And ah friend, now yes. The establishments of the franchise in the United States are exactly what we remember and were looking for, and not the constant disappointment that their equivalent of the neighbor in the north implied. Not only do we find things of which there was no trace in Canada but also the prices are noticeably lower, even using a stronger a priori currency like the US dollar.
We have to take yes or yes a couple of those chicken BBQ Wraps that made us salivate in previous trips. I fall into the temptation of a pair of t-shirts, one from Star Wars and another from The Avengers. We renew our stock of earplugs, so useful on difficult nights. And we took a whole load of ChapStick lip balm bars. We take them of several types like apple, cake or pumpkin.
We resume our mission to travel on Interstate 90 heading west. There are 320 miles left when we arrived at what was our first and will be our last State of the trip in Washington. We won with the change one hour to the clock, since we return to the Pacific time zone after several weeks in the Mountain Time Zone.
We refilled, probably for the last time fuel at a gas station, which does not allow us to indicate in advance how much we want to authorize on the credit card. 13:30. We overcome the barrier of the remaining 200 miles. We are still surrounded by farms and tornadoes. That our discography for travel has reached the selection of themes of Mumford & Sons comes to hair for this landscape.
What separates Seattle from the eastern border of the state of Washington in which it is located? Well, the absolute nothing. Miles and miles of farms guarding huge plots only interrupted by countless small tornadoes that remove the earth. We stopped a few minutes in a service area in the middle of nowhere to eat one of the two barbecue chicken wraps and take turns again at the wheel.
Again running after the meal, using the huge coasters of the vehicle to let a Dr. Pepper Diet bought in the service area. The 26 degrees outside remind us what it is to live in short sleeves. 170 miles to the destination. We overcome the psychological barrier of the 100 miles to arrive. We enter a new National Forest that gives us some views of a beautiful lake before crossing a long bridge.
We were doing a great time. Ten hours after starting the march we were barely 30 miles from the destination, which was quite an achievement as we expected the trip to take us about 12 hours including intermediate stops. But then Seattle had to arrive. And his hellish traffic. We spent half an hour trudging through to finally reach exit 26 that will take us to Everett.
We finally take the exit. Fret the record time to reach the destination. We still do not arrive because the damn detour did not mean the end of traffic jams. And now we must add eternal traffic lights and a multiple accident that has left two cars in deplorable condition for the enjoyment of the onlookers who consider it a good idea to almost stop altogether to take a look.
I thought we were never going to say we had arrived, but here we are. We parked in front of Everett's house, and go home. Three floors of which we will only occupy the living room, bedroom and private bathroom of the basement, although we will have access to the kitchen on the ground floor and the laundry room on the top floor. Allison receives us, a Canadian lady who is all kindness.
More effusive than his two cats, who well, like good cats, prefer to opt for the step of you instead of giving you a warm welcome. But less effusive than his three Golden Retrievers who go crazy and jump for joy, especially the two males. There is still the tour of the facilities. The bedroom and bathroom are more than right. Who knows, a lot. And connected in a timely manner to an Apple TV with which we have access to countless channels and even the Netflix catalog.
Very satisfied after the welcome tour to the house we started to download the car for the last but one time after a fairly long and lively conversation with Allison. Their dogs do not stop playing around us and demand attention and pampering from time to time. After freeing ourselves from their harassment, we showered and went upstairs to make our last washing machine for the trip.
It's 8:00 pm. After a 25-hour day, let's remember the time change when we made the decision to postpone our food for tomorrow at noon. We will have a local of the franchise two miles from the place where we will spend all day and it is more advisable to kick the stomach at noon than at night, with less room to seat the banquet. Tonight we take advantage of some of the meals that we have left and that surely we can not exhaust before returning home.
After a chapter of Braindead in the best home theater that we have ever enjoyed, at 10:10 pm and despite having no need to get up early the next day, we decided that the day is over. What's up tomorrow? Why the hell are we in Everett and not near some remote park or national forest, or even near the airport to leave the next day?
The reason is very simple. Our trip to North America is ending and we have not yet covered a mandatory milestone. We have not yet made the traditional visit and consequently busted the stores of a shopping center. Tomorrow does not happen.