Day6: Saturday, August 4, W Glacier to E Glacier

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

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Sunday, August 5, 2007

Day6: Saturday, August 4, West Glacier to East Glacier
Miles: 100

-Going to the Sun Road - Absolutely Nothing Like It
-St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
-Golden light or eerily yellow light?
-The Pie Master is Revealed to Us.
-Hostel location seems too far away from our needs :(


We slept in a bit this morning, enjoying the comfort of our motel room.
Tried a different place for breakfast, the local golf club.  Priced reasonably but the West Glacier Café was better - young, friendly faces from across the nation and fresher food.

Going to the Sun Road - Absolutely Nothing Like It.
Finally got onto Going to the Sun Road about nine.
This is 50 miles of cliff hanging road from West Glacier to St Mary.
Very twisty turny with dire consequences if you went off the edge.
Most of the guard rails were ankle low stone walls that many modern vehicles could easily drive over.
The road is restricted to single vehicles (no trailers) no larger than 21' long, 8' wide and 10' tall so the modern mega motor homes must make other arrangements.

Traffic was not nearly as thick as we'd been warned but there was certainly enough of it.

We drove at or below the speed limit and took many opportunities to turn out and admire the views of waterfalls, glaciers, hanging valleys, cirques, horns, arêtes and other really, really, really spectacular landscapes.

Most of the water features were greatly reduced due to an arid summer.

We skipped stopping at Logan Pass for the Alpine Meadow and Hidden Lake walks.  We will be going back go Logan Pass tomorrow for a Ranger guided walk in that area.

The air got noticeably murkier as the day wore on and we crossed the Continental Divide.

St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
We stopped at the St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls parking area at about noon and walked in to see them.
Roughly four miles round trip.

Even though the park is drier than normal these two falls were delightful.

St. Mary is a high volume drop and pool.
Being closer to the parking area and shuttle stop it was kind of crowded.

We pressed on to what we thought was Virginia Falls.
A series of wide flat cascades, one down to the other. Frank Lloyd Wright could have built a half a dozen houses here.

Other hikers informed us we should keep going up to the true Virginia Falls.
It was worth the walk. 
We arrived at the base of a 100 foot straight drop.

Golden light or eerily yellow light?
A cloud of smoke from the nearby fires passed between us and the sun as we walked these falls.
Chere thought the result was a golden glowing light on the landscape.

Too bad the camera batteries were again DOA.
We could not capture the effect in a photo.
Rory remembered the same effect yesterday evening as an eerie one.

All the spray from the falls and the moist, shady valley had kept us cool.
We began to notice the heat as we made it to the parking lot and crossed some sun exposed bare rock areas. It was about 2:30 PM.

We continued on our drive through the park - the last few miles.
Perhaps because it is higher and surrounded by prairie instead of trees, St Mary Lake appeared bigger to us than Lake McDonald.
Maybe we could just see more of it.
The books tell us McDonald is the larger.

The Pie Master is Revealed to Us.
We planned on a late lunch at the St Mary Lodge Snow Goose Restaurant.
It was 03:30 PM and they close from 03:00 to 05:00.
Boy were we lucky.

We drove around the corner and found the Park Café.
It was packed so we were prepared to wait with coffee on the porch.

A couple of friendly hot rod enthusiasts offered to share their table with us.
We enjoyed telling each other travel stories and the Cafe food was terrific.
Rich and Annie had recently visited Victoria, BC with three ferry loads of old Fords and were now circulating through the west in 1932 Chevy coupe along with six other cars of the same ilk.

Pies were ordered.
Chere declared the pies and especially the crust the best she has ever had.
The owner, Kathyrn, makes 40 pies every morning.
Chere is debating returning to sit at the feet of the master.
We will at least stop in the next few times we pass.

Hostel location seems too far away from our needs :(
On to East Glacier for our two night stay at Brownies Hostel.
Thirty more miles of very narrow, twisty, drop off hugging MT state roads with cows playing on the roadway.

Brownies Hostel is located in an actual log building.
The bathrooms are updated but the long hallways, uneven flooring, log walls, and badly worn furniture look and smell musty with age.

We have to reverse our path for tomorrow's 09:30 AM Highline Trail hike so we worry we have made a mistake in choosing this location for our sleeping.

East Glacier downtown does not have much going on so we went out to Two Medicine Camp Ground for the views and a ranger talk about subalpine flora and fauna.
The ranger had volunteered/worked for Glacier National Park for about 40 years.
He's seen quite a few changes in the park and the people visiting.
Back to the hostel and showers by 10:30 PM
Tomorrow we will rise at 06:00 and try to be out the door by 06:30.
Our hike is at least an hour and a half drive away and begins at 09:30.
Somewhere in there we want to catch a breakfast - hopefully Park Cafe - and maybe pick up another bottle of water.

The hostel keeper has recommended a seemingly longer but faster route for the return trip.
It crosses prairie so the road will have fewer kinks in it.
We have not decided which path to take as we go to bed.
If there are less cows in the road, the prairie route will be the one to take.
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