Saturday, September 17, 2016

Glacier National Park in the Rain.

It's been over 3 months and half, and since I have not been finding time to write about it, I am doing something, which I usually do not do ever - give up, and just post the pictures instead. I will try to intersperse a few words for context, and to provide a framework for the story, but I will get directly to the titular best part, and I will mainly let the pictures tell their own. It is mid-January 2017 now, but I am going to go ahead and back-date this post to September 2016. Hey, it's okay, all the cool kids have done the same at one point or another.

I apologize if this may seem like being forced to look through someone's vacation album, but unfortunately, that is what it is going to be. 

My base of operations for spending a few days in the park, was a little bed and breakfast with a big view in Somers, MT.  Outlook Inn has a view which no other property has on Flathead Lake, and a hostess with a big heart, who has been running this B&B for 18 years now. Michelle loves what she does, and it shows. Some people just do what they do for the money, others have a true passion for what they do. Michelle is the latter.   

There was no better way to start the day when here, than breakfast at this table. Something fresh, something local, something new and something always very tasty when Michelle is in the kitchen. She has huckleberry bushes behind the B&B, and this year she was determined to beat the Bears to the berries. The result - Huckleberry pancakes, and Huckleberry jam just to mention a couple of the fresh goodies I enjoyed here.

There is also a nice patio to relax in and take in the view. I didn't get to take advantage of it this year, due to the wet weather, which arrived the day after I did. This would be glorious in the Spring and the Summer.

It was still early evening when I arrived at the B&B, so after a prompt check in and some small talk with the innkeeper, I headed out again - hoping for a sunset in the park, and to get the lay of the land. The opportunity to photograph the sunset didn't materialize this day, and with the change in weather for the coming week, neither did it for any other day on this trip, but I got an introduction to what would become the base camp for a day hike foray into the park from the west entrance. Lake McDonald Lodge, or it's parking lot, rather, would be that base camp. :)

The lodge is no Ahwahnee, but it is still a lovely place, with comfortable looking lounges and fireplaces, and even a fireplace in their reading room with plenty of books, either donated or left behind by visitors. If you want to stay inside the Park and do away with the daily commute, or get early starts and beat the herds pouring in everyday, the lodge is unbeatable. The lodge is expensive, and the facilities in the rooms a little out-dated, I hear, but that is the price you pay.

There is a shuttle service which runs from the lodge into the park, and to Logan's Pass and beyond, but be sure to check the daily schedule and reconfirm with the driver. This is not Yosemite, and the shuttles are irregular, and to some extent maybe even unreliable. 

My first full day in the park was for picture taking from the roadside, so I didn't bother with the shuttle. It was a cold, moody and gloomy day, my hands only wanted to venture out of their warm gloves, just so much, not so much.

The opportunities to juxtapose the scenery didn't present themselves much. I was tempted, but I was safe. I framed the shots from the side of the road, making myself scarce from being runover by tourists not paying attention. There have been enough mishaps on the Going to the Sun Road, without trying to add to the casualty count.  

These shuttles (not the regular park shuttles, these are run by a tour company), had caught my eye at the lodge, and I found them again on the Going to the Sun Road.  

The wet weather meant that the falls had started to flow again. A bit more than a trickle, but better than nothing at all. 

Jackson Glacier. Probably the only glacier you can still see from the side of the Going to the Sun Road. Regardless, of which side of the fence you fall on. The glacier do seem to be receding and many have disappeared.  

Wild Goose Island from the vista point besides St. Mary Lake. 

I headed out the park from the East entrance, into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, no different (better) from any other ****-hole Indian reservation, didn't want to linger here too long. Just gas up and scoot. I circled around South on Hwy 89, and Hwy 49 to Hwy 2-West. Hwy 49 is a great ride, but you have to be careful, it is open range and there were many instances of cows on the road. It's a fun shortcut, as long as the beef doesn't get you. 

This was the view a few miles south from the East entrance to the park on Hwy 89. It was getting later in the day, it got dark by the time, I reached the B&B for the evening. Crap! Some big animals in Montana. The Aux lights were blazing full blast, and I have quite some difficulty seeing in the dark these days. Let's not do this again

The weather didn't improve much the next day. This was the planned hiking day, I had hauled all this hiking gear with me, and I was going to go take a hike (actually two)! Come hail or high water! :)

First was to the Hidden Lake overlook from Logan's pass. Easy hike and very picturesque!

Hidden Lake overlook. Well worth the hike in the wet and the cold! 

I tackled Highline trail next, once I returned to the Logans Pass area. It wasn't quite as wet in the beginning of the trail, but looking west from the trail, you could see what was coming, and it didn't look good.

You are climbing up ever higher from the Going to the Sun Road, on this narrow ledge. I spied some bicyclists on the road, the wet weather wasn't stopping these Bike Nazis. Wonder how much traction they were getting..

  Not a good idea, to be up here, if you have vertigo. You don't, do you?

It was still so beautiful, despite the mist and the rain hiding the most scenic sights from view. 

Slim chance of survival if you were to slip and fall. It wasn't so wet now, but it was going to be. I wish I knew that I would end up hiking my way back this way again. 

Well, hello there! Are you friendly? Well, certainly not going to eat me, but definitely not friendly. This bugger and his couple of friends, wouldn't let me (and my fellow hikers) pass for a long time. 

Unfortunately for me. My hike was cut short. I had slipped on some wet rocks, and seemed to have pulled my right knee. I didn't feel it right away, but as the hike went along, I was starting to hobble. This combined with a distant wildlife sighting of the more carnivorous nature (far enough away, but seemed to be headed, where we were headed), made me rethink wanting to continue. After all, all my just met them at the parking lot hiking companions may have to do is to outrun me .. and I was hobbling. 

I turned back towards Logan Pass. All by my lonesome this time..but not for long, another group of hikers caught up to me, going back as well, and I tagged along with them.  

Despite having to cut the hike short, I was just happy to be out here, I mean just look at that...

Didn't stay that way for long though.. this is how the last bits of the hike looked like..and it poured and it poured and it poured on us. This is a little point past where it had started drenching us, and right about after this point, I put the point and shoot back in my pocket for good for the rest of the hike to the parking lot.  

Back on the road from the trail. I looked up to where I was minutes ago. Could there be a fire breathing dragon lurking there in the mist? I think I see it's outline. 

What a day it had been, a day full of memories, and I didn't want it to end. I took a break in Apgar village, at this boat ramp on Lake McDonald. The weather gods were promising a little break the next day. It was going to be the last run through the park for this trip, and I was hopeful.

It was time to get back to the B&B, rest, relax, replenish, and get ready for an early launch the next morning.  

The forecast was for a break in weather earlier in the day, before the rain broke through and swamped us again. As with most weather forecasts the reality was a mixed bag. The sun was shining in some parts of the park, and the clouds were heavy in other parts. Still, it gave me a glimpse into what could be, when the sun is shining abundantly on this little peace of heaven. 

The plan was to do a quick swing-by of the Many Glacier area, before heading out of Dodge and back towards home today. It was a mix of clouds and sun while in the park, but as soon as I got out of the park and into the Indian reservation, heading north for Many Glaciers, the sun was abundant. This area might be in some kind of rain shadow, perhaps. 

The sun is shining brightly on the shores of Lake Sherburne, but there is a storm brewing at Many Glacier. 

I barely even scratched the surface of the Many Glacier area. This pretty much all the time I had to spend here. Visit Many Glacier Hotel and SwiftCurrent Lake. Have lunch and make a beeline back towards home - it took me 2 days to get here, and I only had 2 days to get back home. Only get so much vacation time as a working stiff in the private industry. 

Many Glacier Hotel and Mt. Grinnell (not Matterhorn). This mountain looked to me like a shipwreck washed ashore. 

There is some ongoing renovation/repair work at the hotel. Some parts of the hotel were closed. Mt. Wilbur (on the right) also peeked out for a bit, it had it's head in the clouds almost the entire time I was in this area.

Swiftcurrent lake and the ferry which takes you to Lake Josephine, and points deeper into the park. I wanted to get on so badly, but there was no time. As I have started to say a lot these days .. Next time baby!

Over, but hopefully not out. Thanks for reading! :)


  1. Beautiful images, and what a great adventure! Hopefully your knee healed well with no other issues.

  2. Outstanding! Thoroughly enjoyed!

  3. Great pics, Sam! Well worth the wait.

    1. Thank you Jerry! Glad you enjoyed the blog!

  4. Sam, this is on ky list of places to visit this year.


    1. It's a must-see Darren. I want to go back as well, but I don't think it will happen again this year, or I would have joined you!


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