Day - 9 Going to the Sun & Hiking in the Snow

Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Saturday, July 30, 2011

Well, I did get up, and was glad I had done so, as today was another fantastic day. The Going To The Sun Road is the only road that crosses Glacier NP, 52 miles of absolutely jaw dropping scenery; where there are snow covered mountains and huge valleys every direction you look. I can see why it is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world.

The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet  of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet  of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed! The road is generally open from early June to mid October, with its latest ever opening on 13 July  this year! We were lucky we are here 2 weeks after this, but there is evidence of the huge snowdrifts every where.

The road is incredibly twisty and windy, with huge drop offs at times, (eyes shut time for me!) It was tempting to stop the car at every turn out. I don't know how Lyn managed to keep his eyes on the road. We had stopped off at Sunrift Gorge to take photos, which was amazing. The water that cascaded through the gorge was so fast you certainly wouldn’t want to fall in it!

Logan pass is the highest elevation on the road, at 6646 feet, but we were unable to find a parking space there on the drive over. This is where the trail starts for Hidden lake, which is a walk we had wanted to do. We could see people trekking off into the snow on the walk, so decided we would carry on driving, and try it again later when the park might be quieter.

Much of the west-facing side of the Rocky Mountains within the park comprises of the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, and features a vertical rock face known as the Garden Wall. The road is literally carved into this cliff, with very little clearance for on coming traffic. The Garden Wall section also features an amazing number of waterfalls, especially when  the snow is melting. One of the most unusual falls is known as the Weeping Wall, a long section of rock wall adjacent to the road covered by running water. The run off cascades onto the road, meaning that when your car is passing underneath the, and your husband opens the passenger window, you get soaked with icy water!! You also have a spectacular view of the Continental divide, where the peaks are over 10,000 feet high. The melting glaciers feed the Pacific Ocean, the Hudson Bay, and even the Gulf of Mexico.

We started descending, and caught sight of the amazing river. We knew we just had to stop, so we pulled over at a lay by, and we all got out. Poor old Tegz had to sit down and watch, as the boys got changed, and into the river. I can’t begin to explain how cold the water is......think icy, and then more icy. This is pure snow and glacier melt; but our boys just had to get in and get wet. It was absoultely beautiful. The water is so clear, and so blue. Words just can’t describe it. This was one of the highlights for me; Lyn loves the mountain views, but I love the river. It was so peaceful and scenic, and I love watching the kids having fun.

We drove on from there to Lake McDonald, at the west side of the Park. This lake is huge; 10 miles long. We walked down to the waters edge,a nd felt the water, which almost felt tropical compared to the river. The boys were desparate to get in and swim, but we’ll come back another day, hopefully when Tegz’s foot is healed enough for our little meramid to swim as well.

We headed back up the road, to try our  luck again at Logan Pass. This time we found parking much easier. Poor old Tegz had to again miss out. We wanted to let her foot dry out as much as possible, so she has been restricted today to staying in the car, or short hobbles to the waters edge or to look at the view. Her foot is starting to heal, but there is no way she can put hiking boots on and walk. Luckily she is such an avid reader she didn’t mind too much, provided she had an armful of books,a nd films on the lap top to watch. I know she would have loved to have gone in the river, but am really proud of how well she took it just sitting and watching.

We took it in turns to do the Hidden Lake trail, so that Tegz wouldn’t be left on her own. Io and I went first, armed with our bear spray and my hiking poles. Thank god for my hiking poles! I can honsetly say I cou;dn’t have done it without them. The guide books  say the trail is a pleasant uphill mile and  ahalf through meadows of wild flowers. Oh no!! Try an uphill slog through snow fields! Maybe later on in the season maybe, but certainly not today!

Those of you who know me will know I am not excatly active. The words couch and potato may even spring to mind! I was out of breath walking up the slope to the visitor centre! But....I did it! A mile and a half, uphill in compacted and in times slushy deep snow. Ioan, as ever, was the most perefct guide, looking after me every step of the way, and encouraging me. He, of course, was like a mountain goat, without poles, whereas I needed my poles every step I took. There were times where there were big drop off, where every step you took on slippery snow meant you could fall and roll way down a massive snowy slope. It probably wouldn’t have hurt, but I couldn’t face the hike back up, so I really didn’t want to fall!

We made it to the end, where the view was nice.....but unspectacular, as Hidden Lake is still mostly frozen! If you google image it it looks amazing, lol.

Going back was just as hard as getting there....again, thsoe of you who know me on snow and ice (Rhi...memories??) will know me as Bambi, but you just had to go for it, and let your feet slide down hill. Dare I say it was fun?

I make no apologies for putting loads of photos of me on the snow in the blog. It was surreal hiking on snow in 82 degrees. I am also really proud of myself! Feel free to congratulate me, lol.

It took us 2 hours in total, exactly what the guide book said, and that was based on a walk through wild flowers! We met Lyn and Ci at the start, and passed them on the way back to the car. Lyn found it easy with his long legs, but Ci struggled with his little ones.

It was a great was cool watching people ski, snowboard and body surf the slopes on their chests (honestly!) It was also interesting to watch the huge variety of people doing the trail, from those in all the gear, to those in shorts and trainers carrying babies! We even saw 2 people who had abandoned their slippery trainers and had gone barefoot. Ouch!

We were then leaving Logan Pass at about 8pm, after Lyn and Tegz had had a look through a load of telescopes at the parking lot with an astronomy club. The skies tonight were going to be amazing, with no pollution, cloud or moon, but we couldn’t stay until dark, we had to get back and get things done ready for tomorrow. It was 10.15pm as we were finishing our pasta and getting ready for Lyn and Io’s big day tomorrow....
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mcfarlne on

Wow, all i can say is what fantastic breath taking photos, you can't buy memories like these really, amazing! Hi Evans's, i saw your entry whilst i was in midst of setting up my new blog for my hols. Alas mine will in no way over shadow yours. I am having so many flash backs of Alaska right now.

Luce, fantastic effort getting to the top and back in the alotted time as suggested. You had a good guide and pacer :0). Tegz I hope you are hanging on in there, to be honest probably best not swimming in that icy water burrrr lol.

Big hugs all x

juliephilip on

Amazing views. I think you have surpassed yourselves this year with this holiday! Glacier NP is certainly a must do for us!

mam on

Well done Luce does this mean Lyn gets to go to the snow now ? I love snow it always makes me feel exited so the views must have been fantastic . Nothing like a good book is there Tegs and everyone else freezing in the water and exahusted walking in the snow LOl Zoe has now joined the family "bad " list she has broken a ligament and chipped the bone in her finger didnt know when she did it but it sure hurt later .

rhians on

Hey Bambi, think we'd better think of another more suitable name for you something along the lines of a mountain goat...well done you!!! Wow the views must have been an incentive i reckon, they are amazing! How did the boys get in that water......Brrrrrrrrr!!!! Feel freezing just looking at the pics! xxxxxx

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