Glacier National Park

Trip Start May 06, 2010
Trip End Oct 14, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Friday, June 18, 2010

Each of the past three years I've gotten a cracked windshield in my mini-van.  I was hoping that I'd have better luck with my SUV since it's up higher.  Well, last night when I was coming into Kalispell in the rain something hit my windshield.  I didn't see a mark but I thought I better take a look in the morning.

I forgot about the windshield by this morning.  I got in and started driving to Glacier National Park.  On the way there, BLAM, my windshield got hit, again.  I didn't need to look hard to find where it hit.  I have a roughly one inch diameter fractured spot with a few cracks starting to radiate out from it.  Four windshields in four years,

The weather was pretty lousy today.  I went to the Apgar Visitor Center to get some information.  The Going-to-the-Sun Road is still closed.  They were planning on it being closed until tomorrow for road work but they've gotten a lot of snow including six inches yesterday and they still haven't completed plowing it.  It's normally open by now so my schedule wasn't unreasonable; I was just unlucky with the weather and they didn't mention the road work.  In spite of the heavy snow this winter the number of glaciers has dropped from 150 in 1850 to 25 now and is expected to hit zero by 2030.

I headed east on the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the closure at Avalanche Creek vicinity.  I wanted to hike on the Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail, which runs along Avalanche Creek, but I couldn't find parking and gave up after about 15 minutes.  On my way west I took a dirt road that runs north of Lake McDonald.  There wasn't much on the road but I did meet up with a small Black Bear.  I watched him for a while and he seemed to be ignoring me.  When he was a few feet off the road I thought I'd drive by him slowly.  I thought he'd continue to ignore me but he sure noticed the car then and quickly scampered off

.When I was in the Visitor Center I noticed that the weather showing on web cam from the eastern side of the park looked a lot better.  It still looked bad but at least you could tell there were mountains around you.  I decided I'd drive around the border of the park in a counterclockwise direction.

It did start to look better.  I started stopping to take pictures, although none of them are particularly good due to the overcast skies.  I eventually made it tot he eastern end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road and took it as far as I could going west.  By the time I reached the end the skies had cleared considerably but it was getting near sunset and it seemed like it was time to head back toward Kalispell.

My GPS said it should take around two hours and 15 minutes to get back but that's based on being able to do the speed limits.  That wasn't really possible.  Along with the slow drivers, RV's and tight turns, I first came across a herd of cows that had gotten out of their pastures.  They were relatively easy to navigate around.  Shortly after that were at least a dozen horses that had gotten loose and a bunch of people stopped to take pictures of them.  And a little further down the road were a bunch of mountain goats and even more people stopping to take pictures of them.  I made it back in something like three and a half hours.

Unlike most of the parks I've visited lately, the large mammals have not been re-introduced.  They've always been here.  Glacier was made a national park in 1910 so it's been protected longer than many of the other parks.  It's also nearly surrounded by other protected areas.  There's a national park across the Canadian border and national forests and wilderness areas adjoining it in the US so the animals have room to migrate.

I'm hoping the weather is better tomorrow but the forecast isn't encouraging.
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