Sunday, September 9, 2012

Home Leave Part 2 - Glacier National Park

After North Dakota, we drove across most of Montana before arriving in Glacier National Park. Originally, we had planned on doing a backpacking trip of some sort in Glacier, but we jettisoned that idea because it required too much advance planning and it would have also meant that we would have to bring our big backpacks in our checked luggage, which would have made it hard for us to bring everything we might need for the months living out of our suitcases. So, we settled on just doing day hikes.

When we first got to Glacier, it was raining and foggy, which was a bit of a bummer. However, our spirits were lifted when we discovered that the campsite we stayed at just inside Glacier came with hot showers. It had been a few days since we showered, so it was definitely nice to be able to get rid of the grime and sweat. We didn't feel like eating in the rain, so we ate at a restaurant, hoping the rain would stop while we ate. Luckily for us, it did stop, but only for about an hour. We were able to get our tent up and get into bed before it started really raining.

When we got up the next morning, it was still foggy. We were hoping to jump on the Highline Trail out of Logan Pass, but as our car climbed up to Logan Pass, we quickly realized that there was a very small chance that we could do this. When we got to Logan Pass, we couldn't see much, there was snow everywhere, and the wind was kicking up something fierce. We were definitely not prepared, although I think we had enough warm stuff that we could have attempted it. However, the park rangers told us that the trail was closed, and we didn't put up a fight. We decided to instead head back down the pass and do a short hike out to St. Mary's waterfall and Virginia Falls. We'd passed it on the way up and there wasn't a single car in the parking lot. When we returned about an hour later, the parking lot was almost completely full. I guess people visiting Glacier aren't early birds. Anyway, as we hiked, we got a few fleeting views of the towering mountains around us, but I was beginning to think that these fleeting views would be all we would get in Glacier, so I was mentally preparing myself for this letdown by taking extreme satisfaction in what we could see. This wasn't really hard, since the waterfalls were magnificent.
what we saw at Logan Pass
St. Mary's Falls
fleeting majesty 
Virginia Falls
After our hike, we started driving back up to Logan Pass. It had gotten a bit warmer, but we were still driving through the clouds. I had accepted that we weren't going to see the beautiful views that Glacier is known for - that is, of course, until we actually crossed the pass. Within half a mile of crossing the pass, we were greeted with amazing views of the glacier-shaped valleys below, and we quickly realized why the road we were driving on (the 'Going to the Sun' road) has been named one of the most breathtaking and beautiful drives in the world. I mean, the views are just spectacular, but don't just take my word for it...

Eventually, we got to 'The Loop,' which was where we had originally intended to end out hike. We parked here and started hiking towards the Granite Park Chalet. The hike (seen below) goes through a forest that had burned about 9 years prior, so there was very little shade. After our hike, we headed down the mountain and spent the night along Lake McDonald.

Lake McDonald from our campsite
With regret, we left Montana the next day, heading for Seattle. We both had been using Virgin Mobile while in the US, and its service was pretty terrible through all of Montana, so we'd been largely out of cell phone range for 3 or 4 nights. When we finally did get service, I was surprised to see that I had a few messages from my parents, who were a bit frantic because things weren't working as they should at my dad's office back in Chattanooga. I'm kind of the IT guy for my dad's office (no, I will not be your IT person as well), so we took a quick pitstop at a Safeway that had free wifi and I debugged his issue. It turned out he needed to unplug a switch (networking device) in his office and plug it back in. There's nothing like debugging someone's computer issue from your car in a parking lot of a Safeway...

Anyway, Sophie's sister was flying into Seattle on the following day, so we drove most of the way towards Seattle, stopping in Lake Easton to spend the night. Driving through eastern Washington was particularly interesting because they have a section of road where all the crops in the fields have a sign telling the passing motorist what crop is being grown. I saw sweet corn, field corn, alfalfa, peas, potatoes, lentils, and wheat. When we got to Lake Easton, we found a beautiful state park that had awesome showers and laundry nearby. It was a bit wet, but the beauty of the trees made up for the wetness. The next day, we drove to Seattle, which is where I'll start part 3.
Lake Easton State Park


  1. I am jealous of your road trip. One thing my husband and I considered doing for our honeymoon was flying to Seattle and driving down the coast to San Francisco, doing a mix of camping/hiking and hotel stays along the way. Unfortunately language + departing for post didn't allow enough time this year, but maybe in the future!