Thursday, May 27, 2010

EAST GLACIER

1. Glacier National Park in northwest Montana, adjacent to the US/Canadian border, is a good 830 miles from Custer. To break the journey into smaller chunks, we decided to make 2 night stops: at Sheridan (Wyoming) and Helena (capital city of Montana).

2. On the way, we made a brief stop at Little Big Horn Monument. Here in June 1876, 210 US Army soldiers, including Lt Col Custer died fighting several thousands Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Here, 2 monuments remember the US soldiers and Indian warriors who lost their lives.




3. The Glacier National Park encompasses over 1 600 sq miles and includes parts of the Rocky Mountain ranges, over 130 named lakes and more than 1,000 different species of plants and hundreds of species of animals. Of the estimated 150 glaciers which existed in the park in the mid 1800s, only 25 active glaciers remained by 2010. Studies had estimated that all the glaciers may disappear by 2030 if the current climate patterns persist.

4. We arrived at St Mary, a small town at the east entrance to the Glacier National Park at about 2 pm on 24 May, Day 7 of our trip. It was like a ghost town. There was hardly anybody. St Mary Lodge, a major lodging facility at the east entrance, was close. The small fuel station was close. Practically all the shops and accommodation facilities were close. After getting lost a little, we eventually found the Visitor Center. Fortunately it was open. From the wardens, we understood that we were a little too early for the season. For St Mary, on the east side, the season would only begin in June. Also, the scenic 50 miles Going to the Sun Road (completed in 1932), which runs through the Glacier National Park in a E-W direction, would only be fully open in mid June (this, we knew), as snow was still been cleared in the vicinity of Logan Pass, thus effectively separating the National Park into E and W. 13 and 15 miles of Going to the Sun Road were still accessible from the E and W respectively.

5. With the list provided by the warden of 3 hotels that were open for business in the vicinity of St Mary we checked into Duck Lake Lodge for 2 nights for US$99 a night. We had decided to stay 2 nights in the East and 2 nights in the West. The room at Duck Lake was squeezy, nothing to shout about, but we had few alternatives.

6. On the eastern side of the National Glacier Park, we explored Many Glacier on the day we arrived (24 May) and the Eastern section of the Going to the Sun Road and Two Medicine the next day (25 May).

7. Here are some pictures at Many Glacier with Lake Sherburne in the foreground. Scenery was excellent but weather sucked.

8. Weather was much better the next day. This picture of the Glacier National Park was taken from Highway 89 as we drove to St Mary. Lower St Mary Lake was as clear as a mirror. Weiping called this a million dollar view.

9. Here are 2 pictures taken along Going to the Sun Road with St Mary Lake and the Glacier mountain range in the background. The first picture also shows Little Goose Island in the background.

10. On the trail to Baring Falls we came face to face with 3 deers on their morning walk. After we took a few pictures, they gave way to us.

11. Pictures at Baring Falls:






12. Sunrift Gorge - an almost straight fast running stream between 2 vertical stone walls, looking almost like a man-made canal:



13. Trekked along the trail to St Mary and Virginia Falls.

(1) Pictures and video of St Mary Falls:

video







(2) Pictures and video of Virginia Falls:






video

14. Right are pictures at Sun Point. Here there is a semi-circle dial showing the names of the various peaks.

15. Some pictures at Running Eagle Falls, Two Medicine:













16. South of St Mary was a vast expanse of charred forest, apparently due to a forest fire in 2006.

17. Our plan next day was to drive to Whitefish where we would stay 2 nights to see the western side of Glacier National Park.

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