GNABRT Day 25 – One less glacier to cross

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IMG_0444Apparently, all that walking practice worked.

Waking up today in cold, but windless Kalispell, the Great North American Baseball Road Trip took the reasonably short ride over to West Glacier, the convenient entrance to the Glacier National Park.

Starting extra early, I had the intention of joining a ranger-led hike so I could (a) find my way back and (b) have someone to notify loved ones in case of bear mauling.  I didn’t need option (b) and by virtue of you reading this, obviously option (a) turned out okay.

Turns out, I had 25 minutes to run up the Going-to-the-Sun road in order to get to the 9 am hike to Avalanche Lake.  Since you can’t “race” up the road, I ground my teeth as the minutes ticked away.  Then I missed the turn-off and had to go a while before I could u-turn.  So I missed the start.

Not to be deterred (or mauled), I fast-walked up the trail and caught up with the gang as they were still doing introductions.  Puff.  I thought about bringing the backpack, but went simply with the jacket and a bottle of water.  It was the right call (except for lunch).

The trail is mostly uphill (duh), passing babbling, murmuring and whispering brooks, huge trees, old rocks and stunning scenes.  At one point, a lady on the tour (with her daughter) and I ate some hemlock at the invitation of the tour guide.  We did not die, as this was not “that” hemlock.  In fact, it had a citrus taste and turns out it’s high in vitamin C.  Another plant adjacent to the one we munched on is a vital ingredient in anti-cancer drugs.  I should just make my home there.

The pinnacle of the trip was Avalanche Lake itself.  Cozily snuggled against the mountains, it’s fed by running streams of water from melting snow and glaciers.  The sight was stunning and clearly shows why pictures are paltry efforts to convey the essential majesty of natural wonders.  I include them only to show you that even within these small references, you can see the amazing beauty.

The hike was about 3 1/2 miles and I took off the jacket long before we finished.  By the time we reached the lake, I had my long sleeves rolled up. The lake would have been a nice place to unpack the half-sub I had saved for the trip, if I had not left it in the backpack.  Ah well.

The trip back, individually, was fast.  First, it was mostly downhill and I had to actually slow myself as I moved over the roots and rocks.  Second, I didn’t need to stop and stare, since I had fallen behind the group multiple times to shoot pictures and just gaze, slack-jawed.

One sad note, there used to be over 100 glaciers in the park.  Now there are 25.  Repeat that the next time your congressman says there’s no global warming.

The City:  I’m staying in Kalispell, MT, a little city about 30 miles southwest of the West Glacier entrance to the park.  Although little by most standards, it’s actually the largest city in NW Montana.

The toughest thing about Kalispell is finding anything about its history.  It became a city in 1891.  One thing I did uncover is that its name is Indian in origin (Salish) meaning “Prairie above the lake”, referencing its position above Flathead Lake.

Micellany of Day 25:

– Not a lot of miscellany today, so I’ll add more pictures.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Driggs, ID which is actually the closest I could get to West Yellowstone.  I’ve learned a bit about how and what to schedule ahead on this trip.  Wednesday will be the Yellowstone trip and then off to Denver for some reason…oh yeah, baseball.
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