Friday, September 18, 2015

Yes, We Had Never Been to Glacier!

The kids check out the Apgar Visitor Center's map.
I know this sounds crazy, but Linda and I had never been to Glacier National Park. We don't have very good answers as to why we had not been there. Being the outdoor guy, I guess I should have explored that area. There were so many mountains and lakes to hike so close to home that I spent my hiking and backpacking days venturing into those locations.

We decided to make this trip on the spur of the moment.  Some other plans fell through so we loaded up and headed out. Our route took us up the Coeur d'Alene River to Murray and then up over Thompson Pass to Thompson Falls where we took a right onto highway 200. 200 lead us east through Plains and Dixon and onto highway 93 north along Flathead Lake to Kalispell.

Kobi and I on the shore of Lake Mcdonald.
We stopped to get diesel just outside of Kalispell. I checked my phone and it said I missed a call from Tom Husby. At the same time, Linda was checking her phone and saw that a friend had posted to a post that Linda had added saying we were going to Glacier. The post reply said that Tom and Sarah Husby were heading to Glacier also. I called Tom back and I said that we were on the way to Glacier. He was amazed how I knew they were heading the same way. We made plans to stay together in the park at Two Medicine in a couple days. Once we were fueled up we made a right and drove highway 2 up and over to West Glacier.

Linda and Kobi take a break in Apgar.
The entrance to Glacier National Park is just north of West Glacier and our intended campsite was within the park boundaries at Apgar. Our drive was beautiful, the weather was partly cloudy and very windy.  The wind was at our backs the entire way so we got great diesel mileage, an outcome that rarely happens.

At the Apgar campground, we found a spot, set up and took a hike to get the lay of the land. We checked out the visitors center and found it closed, but we were able to pick up some information from the outdoor kiosk. These brochures gave us some ideas and provided information that allowed us to decide on how we would explore the park.

The Red Bus we took up Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Back at the camper we made dinner and plotted our exploration of the park. We didn't bring the Jeep along on this trip so we decided that we would try to get seats on one of the red buses that show you the majestic views as you climb the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the top of Logan Pass.  If we could get seats, then we could explore far more of the park. Taking our truck camper up the Going-to-the-Sun Road was out of the question due to the height of the camper. We ate dinner and made plans for the next day. The sun set and we slept soundly.

First thing in the morning, Linda ended her run at the visitor center and then ended up calling the Red Bus Tours folks and booked us on the 2:00 PM bus. We packed some eats, clothes and our camera in a backpack; ate lunch and walked to the visitor center where we met the bus.

Our bus driver, Russ, was great. He gave us a mass of information about the geography of the area and pointed out every tree variety we drove by. It was a great tour! Russ gave us info on the park and its history. The tour led up McDonald Lake and stopped for a break at McDonald Lake Lodge. The place was beautiful and it had bathrooms! :-)
Goofing on the Red Bus.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road was amazing and quite the engineering feat.We drove up, stopping at different viewpoints, till we reached the top at Logan Pass. Pictures, stretching, and then back down the pass.

On our trip up and back we saw goats, moose, and a coyote. I got some photos, but most shots were long distance shots. We did get some pictures of a goat at an overlook at the top of the pass. The little fella was about five feet from me; it had no fear. All I could think of were those videos you see with the title "When Wild Things Attack!"

Back down the Going-to-the-Sun Road with a couple stops here and there. Russ the driver kept the top down all the way to within six miles from Apgar.

Totem at the McDonald Lake Lodge.
We were let off at the visitors center and we walked back to the camper. Kobi was a bit mad that he had to stay in the camper for the four hours of the tour but the park has rules and we think all he did was sleep the entire time anyway.

We had dinner and turned in at 9:30 PM. Our plans were somewhat set, it looked like we were heading to Two Medicine Lake to meet up with the Husbys and Ray Kincheloe.

Packing up the camper has become a routine and we get it done quickly and efficiently. Kobi took his morning walk and then we tricked him into going into the crate in the back seat area.  Linda got her maps together and we were off.

We stopped in West Glacier and looked around. During that break, we had to use the laundry facilities to clean up some rugs and towels. Why we had to clean the rugs up was a bit of a long story, we'll save that for another day.

Looking down on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Once everything was back to normal and we had done our shopping (basically looking around). We headed up over the pass to East Glacier where we entered the park and drove on to Two Medicine.

Two Medicine is a very special place.  The views are amazing, we found a camp site with a perfect view. Look at the photo of Two Medicine Lake, Sinopah Mountain below and that was the view from our camper window. We set up camp and went for a hike. As we walked we met a ranger and she told us that they had spotted a sow and two cubs feeding along the mountain side.  We grabbed our camera and binoculars and walked to the edge of the campground. Though the three bears were up high, we were able to spot them and watch them feed. I took some photos as we watched. We walked back to our camper and Tom, Sarah and Ray had arrived and set up right next to us.

They were excited because the camp site they set up in was their traditional site which they had been able to get the past several years.  We told them of the bears and we talked about our travels, it was real good to see them.

We spent the next two days at Two Medicine exploring and enjoying the beauty.  Each night we sat around the fire and told stories. Turns out Ray had grown up in this area of Montana and he had been coming up to this campground for many years. He said this was his last trip up to Two Medicine, it was sad.  Ray is 86 and he feels that he won't be able to make the journey much longer. We are all in agreement that if possible we will do what we can to get him back up to this campground.  I hope I can be as active at 86 as Ray is!

While we were at the lake we were able to see sheep, goats, moose and bear. The weather was cold but mostly clear and we got to get a good feel for this area.  On Thursday, we packed up and headed out of the park back in the direction of home.

Linda at the Logan Pass Visitor Center.
The drive back was easy. The weather was once again sunny.We found a campground at Logan state park, southeast of Libby.  The park sits on the Thompson Lakes and we had it practically to ourselves. As it turned out Tom and Sarah were heading home also and they joined us for our final night out.  Ray packed up and drove south to visit his sister before he returned home.

We spent the evening sitting around Tom and Sarah's fire.  We turned in after the fire died down. The next morning we drove home.  There are a couple things that I can say for sure about this trip. One is that Glacier lived up to everything everyone had said about it, and second is it won't be 60 years until I visit that special area again.

Reynold's Mountain

"You know that winter is coming, I'm just saying!"
Coyote scampering into the woods at top of pass.

Yes, that is the goat and old Deano after the photo shoot.
You might say two old goats.

Two moose in the McDonald River.
Sow and two cubs moving on the ridge above the lake.
Linda looking for critters on the slopes.

Sow and two cubs feeding near the lake.
Two Medicine Lake, Sinopah Mtn.
Two moose heading up from Two Medicine Lake.
Goats grazing above the lake.
Ray Kincheloe points out the goats up on the ridge.
Ray and Sarah Husby.
Ray and Tom Husby gather around the fire.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Last Minute Decision

We spent the last month trying to decide if we wanted to go up to Priest Lake and stay with the Anderson clan at Indian Creek campground. Two week ago we finally said no we wouldn't be going up. Two days before the departure date Rayelle called and suggested that we look online to see if there were spots available and low and behold, we booked a site and started packing the camper.

Earl and Mike preparing breakfast.
On Friday morning we hit the road, Kobi did his usual pissed off traveler routine and Linda settled into her spot, map in hand. Two hours later we were in our camp spot and settled.  At 3 PM, Earl, Lorraine and Julia arrived in their motor coach. Rayelle and Mike were not far behind and so our camp group was set up and ready.

We spent the evening talking and cooking dinner. Each night we met in Earl and Lorraine's RV and talked until we were ready to go to bed.

While we were up there I had the opportunity to go out fishing on Earl's boat.  We fished for lake trout and silvers, but in the two trips out were able to catch only one lake trout. It was a small one so we returned it to its home.

During the weekend, it rained off and on. The temperatures were well below normal, but we all hoped it was providing relief for all the wildfires located throughout the west.

On Sunday, Rayelle's family visited, Linda and I gave them some time together and we played cards, walked and stayed close to the camper. After dinner, we met back at the RV and talked and laughed.

Monday morning we went out on the second fishing trip.  When we returned everyone packed up, Linda had packed up everything for us so we were ready to go in no time.

We said our goodbyes and thanked everyone for the weekend.  It was a great time and we were glad we made the decision to join the Anderson's annual event.
Eggs, over any way they lit.
The fishing crew.