Glacier NP - Spokane, WA

Trip Start Aug 24, 2007
Trip End Nov 2007

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This day started at about quarter till four in the morn.  I wake up, kinda bleary eyed, somewhat hungry (not sure how that was possible), and say to myself, "yeah right, no heading to the bear box now..  hey.. is something weird with my tent? seems..  yeah, my tent is about the size of a one man pup tent.. what the..  wait..  there's only one reason I know of..."  *Joe kicks the ceiling of the tent*  *spring!*  Much better.  Snow.  Heavy snow.  Must be wet.  Hmm.  Reasonable, I suppose.  I gently kick/push the ceiling a few more times, listening to the snow dropping on the fly and noting that the tentwalls and ceiling are soaked.  Push the snowpack away from the bases of the vestibules, get out to tighten up the fly, vent the vestibules from the top for some breathing air, make sure my down bag isn't touching anything wet, and set my three watch alarms for five, six, and seven.  A couple more times during those slumbering hours I clear the tent with the kickpush, and am up at seven.  Well hello little winter wonderland.  Hmm.  Slight consternation.  Decent accumulation, but the pavement is still wet.  Might have a window to get out of here.  Let's move!  Pack the soaking wet gear, keep my thermal layers for riding available.  Am done breaking down by the time the gift shop opens at 8, snag my gear, giftshop dude (I have unknowingly and affectionately become known as motorcycle dude over the last several days as people pondered at the bike sitting in the parking lot) comps me a thermos of coffee, I load up, layer up (this time wearing down jacket as well!), and roll out.  The road is bumpy, and I can tell my gear is loose.  Where the park road meets the main road I stop to redo the lashing.  Then I head to a retaurant I saw on the way in, Two Sisters Cafe, for a full breakfast.  I suspect I'll need it, and have no problem downing a fairly massive plate.  Lots of friendly people and conversation, some route advice, though all contingent as no one knows anything of the span of the overhead weather system.  I keep an eye on the pavement, looking to see that it stays wet.  I leave bundled: expedition thermal, Dr. Seuss midweight fleece, sweater, light thermal windbreaker, down jacket, rain jacket, and leather jacket on top, regular long underwear, midweight fleece pants, jeans, and rainpants on legs, thick wool socks, ice bags lent by the sisters as vapor barriers, boots, and gaiters on feet, mountaineering gloves on hands.  Balaclava, rain jacket hood (intercepts and deflects most of the airflow up the back of my leather jacket) and full face helmet on head.  I look pretty portly.  Double check the lashings, and on the move.  I wish I had stopped to take pictures, but I felt the whole time like I was somewhere inside a 20-minute window between glistening wet and glistening icy road.  Focus, low angle curves, senses hawklike trained on the look and feel of the road.  Definitely one of those slim margin situations were it to turn.  At some point during the white ride I notice that my windshield and my gaiters have iced over.  Gentle, gentle.  Sketchy, sketchy.  Keep toes and fingers moving.  Slow down if needed, but not too much.  I get significantly south and am freezing.  I look for hand warmers to no avail, and contemplate making wind guards for my hands out of a split 2-liter bottle, but decide to move on as the snowfall seems to thicken.  I have the option to detour further south, adding about 4 hours to a probably 10-hour day to make my proposed destination, or skirt west along the south edge of the park in a river valley that traces that edge.  I opt for the river valley, and the weather softens; sun flurries and then warmer weather.  Relative comfort.  Ahhh.  Close one.  Closer than it needed to be.  The rest of the day pales in comparison as I ride south to the highway (stopping at that gear shop to grab some handwarmers for future contingency) and make my way towards Spokane, snagging a hotel and a much welcomed hot shower.  I hang my wet gear and glumly note that I have neither my thermos or my tent poles.  Thermos is sitting at Two Sisters back in Montana, and the tent poles...  well, they were wedged between my daypack and duffel on top my bike, and all I can think is that they bounced on the rough road out of Glacier or that someone walked off with them at a stop.  I suspect they fell, but the rangers never found a trace; fortunately, Kelty reps were kind and mailed me a new set at wholesale to help the journey continue.  Negotiations with the sisters are ongoing :)
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