Day5 Friday, August 3, In West Glacier

Trip Start Jul 30, 2007
Trip End Aug 20, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Saturday, August 4, 2007

Day5 Friday, August 3, In West Glacier
Miles: 61

-Fires/Smoke shifts - Skies are blue again
-Algae that Changed Our World - Avalanche Lake Hike
-The Magic of Big Trees
-This really isn't Disney World ...
-Planning for more fun .. boat cruise ... dinosaurs
-Must have internet ...must have cellphone...(pant, pant)
-How can it be summer when I am wearing four layers of clothing?
-Eerie Yellow Skies
-Glacier National Park is being Loved-to-Death


Fires/Smoke shifts - Skies are blue again

The vista at the Vista Motel was much clearer this morning.
We could make out the color and shape of trees on the mountains.
The sky was blue once again.
The wind over the fires must have shifted away from us.

Algae that Changed Our World - Avalanche Lake Hike
We made a 7:00 AM start to get breakfast and arrive at the Avalanche Lake trailhead well before the Ranger led geology walk at 09:00.
We encountered a large group of cyclists being shepherded over the Logan Pass by some energy food sponsor. It looked like fun.
Very colorful.
Ranger Megan knew her geology and introduced us to stromatolites, the algae that changed the world. Stromatolites are the first to release oxygen into the air - enabling life as we know it to evolve.

The specimen in question had been placed on the trail by a long gone naturalist for discussion purposes. Something the Park Service would probably no longer do.

The hiker's guide warned us that the trail we were taking was not to be used by anyone expecting solitude and it was absolutely correct. By later in the day the area was no more crowded that Butchart Gardens.

The walk did have plenty of scenery and points for Ranger Megan to talk about how the mountains were created and then worn down.

Glacier has some of the oldest rocks anywhere.

The Avalanche Lake trail goes through the only forest in Glacier that is anything like the rain forests we saw in Washington.

We got to Avalanche Lake and were left to our own devices.
Chere sketched.
Rory hiked around the lake a bit and took some pictures.

This heavily used area shows some wear on the trail which has grown wide from overuse. 'Social trails' have made unnecessary scars in the landscape.

We packed up to head back after a family decided to plunk themselves down right in front of where we were viewing the lake.
Keep in mind, the lake is huge.
There is an easy path all the way around the lake.
There is no unique feature about our view vs. another view of the lake.
Why would anyone park themselves right in front of another group of people when there is sooo much open space from which to choose?

The walk was a success overall.
We learned and refreshed our geology.
We got some fresh air and exercise (500ft gain over 2 miles)

The Magic of Big Trees
We were back in the parking lot about 3:00 PM after taking the Trail of the Cedars on the way out.
They billed it as an ancient forest of cedars - which it was- but we'd just been along the Pacific Coast weeks back seeing Big Basin and Avenue of the Giant trees that simply take your breath away.

Still, the big, tall trees create a darkness, sound absorbing quiet, and coolness like no other.
It is truly magical to walk among them.

This really isn't Disney World ...
Many people do not seem to understand that when there is a big red "Cougar Alert" sign at the trail head they are supposed to keep their fair haired little children from running on ahead.

Rory would remind people by hollering after the running children - "you run ahead and get caught by the cougars the park warned us about ..." ...leaving the next step to the parents to take.

Planning for more fun .. boat cruise ... dinosaurs
Stopped at McDonald Lodge and booked a sunset cruise.
Ate early dinner, late lunch.
Pie was involved.

Went to Canada.  Well, an Alberta visitors center conveniently located in the East Glacier center, anyway.
We've talked ourselves into staying more days in the Glacier Waterton Peace Park and wanted more info on the Waterton side.
The lobby has a full sized T.Rex skeleton greeting you as you walk in.
You are stopped dead in your tracks.
Quite the WOW factor.

Must have internet ...must have cellphone...(pant, pant)
With a little time to kill we did some more futile WiFi searching with no result.
We are forgetting to plug in our cell phones since they have no reach either.
Are we going cold turkey?
Can we live without?

How can it be summer when I am wearing four layers of clothing?
Back at the Vista we took a dip in the motel pool and chatted with a British motorcyclist traveling from Halifax to VanCouver Island. I can't think about riding a motorcycle for that many miles without wincing.

This hotel is a throwback to an earlier era of rows of concrete rooms looking out to the mountains but still kept up nicely.
No air conditioning which is not a problem even if the days are in the 90s.
We are up in the mountains.
The nights here are in the 50s so except for some road and railroad noise, open windows are OK.
The pool water is also plenty cold enough to chill you out if you are sticking around during the day.
Other oddities: asbestos siding, 'leave the key in the lock when you check out', wonderful sitting porch or balcony overlooking the mountains as a common area for all to enjoy.

Eerie Yellow Skies
Then back into the park for the cruise.
At 07:00 PM smoke clouds were again appearing between us and the sun.

They imparted an eerie yellow cast to everything.
If you cannot have clear air at least have interesting air.
The one hour cruise was on a Lake Boat built locally in 1928 for service on Lake McDonald.

Glacier National Park is being Loved-to-Death
After the cruise we went to another ranger talk.
Did not get her name but she was from Salisbury, PA, a rival school district where Rory grew up.

The talk was about how the Going to the Sun Road was created 1920s and the dilemmas it creates when it is heavily used.
To date, there are no restrictions on how many people are let into the park - or how many cars can be on that road.

The ranger mentioned yesterday the line to enter the park was backed up to US Rt2 - quite a distance from the entrance - and creating a traffic hazard.
At that point they were just waving people into the park without stopping them for standard $20 entry fees.

If you haven't been to Glacier, this road takes you from either side of the park via vehicle past the most glorious scenery ever seen on any road.
You see it all - huge mountains, giant waterfalls, rocky cliffs, bears, moose, sheep, glaciers - amazing vistas.

If you are anywhere near Glacier and in a car, you should make arrangements to drive this incredible highway. You don't have to be psychic to know they will be searching for a way to make order out of their current chaos.

Things change - this one is ripe for improvements.  Limiting access is needed to prevent Glacier from being loved-to-death.

Admittedly, we will be some of those heavy users tomorrow when we use it to reach East Glacier.
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