A long day and well worth it....

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Fishcreek Campground
What I did
Rocky Mountain Goat

Flag of United States  , Montana
Monday, July 9, 2012

Today we slept in as no-one was in a rush to get out of the tent and face the horde of mosquitoes that drove us to bed early last night. After battling with a temperamental stove, we had breakfast and headed out to explore the park around 10am. The kids had treated us to a relaxing morning due to their quiet and cooperative lego play in the tent. The plan for today was simple, drive from one end of the Going to the Sun Road to the other and then back again; stopping at interesting places, checking out a visitor center, having a picnic lunch somewhere and attempting to spot Mountain Goats. By the end of the day, everything had been successfully accomplished.
We stopped at MacDonald Lake and threw stones and discussed the formation of the lake due to historic glaciers. We then visited a gorge on MacDonald River which clearly fed into the lake and skipped the really flat stones at the river's edge and Eli and Lily were successfully getting up to 4 skips each! Then we fought the really dense traffic to the top of Logan Pass. There were definitely times on today's drive when we were saying things like, "all these people and cars are ruining our time in the park". Due to road construction on the winding road to the top of Logan Pass, we were stuck in a line of traffic about 100 cars long that putted up the hill at speeds less than 10mph. Often we came to complete stops as cars and people tried to take photos of the views while still driving up the hill. When we got to Logan Pass, we were in the snow again. We fought the lines and people in the gift shop in order to get our badges and then the kids had a play in the snow and we chucked snowballs at each other while dodging the crowds of people and trying not to hit others with our flung snow. After this, it was time to jump back into Odie and drive down to the East side of Glacier National Park and visit St Mary's Lake and try to find a picnic spot for lunch. Our first two stops were so overrun with people that we pulled in, looked around and quickly made a u-turn and bolted. Finally, only about 5 miles from the eastern boundary of the park, we found a picnic area with very few people. The kids played down at the lake and then we all had a quiet first half to our lunch. By then, the rest of the people/crowds/hordes showed up and set up for their lunches right next to where we had plopped down. Oh well….. welcome to America! The kids had a lovely play/splash in the lake and then around 2:30 we decided to start making our way back to our campsite. We were expecting to get to the campground and local village store for an ice cream around 3:30, but things changed.
When we arrived back at Logan Pass Visitor Centre and parking lot, there were a lot fewer cars and people so Tim and the kids went back to play some more in the snow. Tim thought he spotted a mountain goat at the top of the snow field (at least where the top appeared to be) so he made the 10 minute return trip to the car where Jess was trying to spot a goat on the opposite hillside, fetched the camera and headed back up to the top of the slope. He thought it was only a 10 minute walk to the top so he left Jess and the kids playing in the snow and up he went. However, as with many mountain tops and hillsides, there is always more around the next rise and so he kept climbing and walking in the wet and slushy snow on his pilgrimage to find a Rocky Mountain Goat. He kept walking, climbing, slipping in the snow and passing others as they struggled their way up the slippery, snowy slope. He kept thinking that he heard the whispered word of 'goat', so he kept walking. Finally, at the very top of the pass, more than a mile up the track, after passing over the top, walking through runoff water and wetting his socks and shoes thoroughly, passing an alpine tarn (a little lake at the top of the pass), then around the final bend and there were some goats. A male, a female and a kid!!!! The adults were clearly in the process of shedding their winter coats and looked a bit raggedy, but there they were!!!! It was a success and Tim, for one, was sure glad he had made the trip up. He took several photos and then conscious of the fact that he had been gone for more than 45 minutes, never told Jess how far he was going, and due to having the car keys in his pocket, he started jogging his way back down the snowy trail. Slipping, sliding and skidding down the snow he went, passing several people that he had passed on the way up, still puffing and wheezing their way to the top and finally as he crested the final rise, he could see Jess and the kids watching and then….waving. As it turned out, Jess and the kids were taking bets on whether he would fall over when running down the hill, it was three votes for wipeout and none for "he will make it". Ha……he made it down without once wiping out. 
As fate, destiny and Murphy all work in concert, when we pulled out of Logan Pass and started to make our way back down through the construction zone and lines of traffic, we saw a nanny and kid lying in the snow, a male tucked up in a little rock shelter high above the valley floor and a younger female licking salt off the road all within 1 mile of the car park. But, good old Tim, if he hadn't of made his scramble to the top, the fates would not have decreed that all these other animals would have been so close to the road. We wormed our way back to the tent, arriving after 6pm, when we had always though that we would be home by 3, but fully satisfied with yet another action packed and throughly enjoyable day. We battled the mosquitoes through dinner, climbed into the tent and now we're waiting for the air to cool down enough to allow for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow we are off to Flathead Lake and a night with family friends; yippee for showers and beds!

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