The border guard took our passports and my driver’s license — ran the background check and asked where we had been and what we did. He got off his chair for a moment to look at my riding companion. Then he handed me the documents and said, “Welcome back and have a good day!”
I let out a sigh. I turned to my riding companion saying, “That’s it, no 5th degree, no stern eye contact, no questions at all? Thank god!” I gunned it (as much as one can ever gun a Prius). “We’re back, don’t look back just keep goin’.”
The drive to east Glacier was easy and fast. We were booked into Many Glacier Lodge, the largest hotel in the Park, located in the Northeast quadrant of Glacier:
Being too early to check-in we stopped at the first park trail head and started hiking to Apikuni Falls:
Hiking is the primary form of recreation in parks; eating takes a close second place which is why we hike, right? I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say we hiked everyday and ate the requisite three squares along with some relatively healthy snacks — nuts, low-fat popcorn, fruit and the like. All our hikes were along beautiful lakes, forests and rivers.
In general, hikers will usually admit that a major reason for hiking is to see animals in the wild. We had little luck finding wild beasts ( a lowly ground squirrel) in Canada. However, we hit pay-dirt on our second hike in Glacier when we ran into (literally) a momma and her babe having dinner.
The hiking on day two was much more sedate. The lodge staff was in the throes of winterizing the park facilities. It was a rainy day so we spent the morning reading. The afternoon was one long stroll along two lakes — Josephine and Sweetcurrent.
Our accommodations at Many Glacier reeked of history. The Swiss Alpine structure was built prior to the Depression. Being part Swiss I felt an affinity for the place, no I did not yodel; though I sometimes hummed edelweiss while I hiked.
With 200+ rooms it is the largest hotel in Glacier. Like many of the national park lodges many Glacier has a wonderful common area with a large wood burning fireplace. The main dining room ain’t too bad either:
Many lodge guests appeared to be over 50 — it is off-season after all. Though this population is usually easy going I sensed that the riot squad would soon need to be called in when the WiFi and cellphones failed to work anywhere on-site. “You can buy a phone card for use on the lodge land lines”, we were told. My gawd, this crowd seemed ready to grab pitchforks and torches. There was a constant hum everywhere as guests muttered throughout the lodge, “We need to get on Facebook — to maintain the all important grandchild connection and to view the stuff on Pinterest; we want to do it now!!” The Millennials have nothing on these folks. Technology rules — when it works. Lodge staff was polite but ill equipped to help. Besides the lodge was due to close for the season in four days. Everything was in a holding pattern — the solution was to stall and out-wait the guests.
On day three in Glacier we hightailed (by car not by foot) out of the lodge and began our trek across the Continental Divide. Hearing so much for so long about “The Road to the Sun” we started out in sunshine that held until we hit Logan’s Pass — the peak of the road. Very quickly we were engulfed in heavy clouds laden with snow that brightened the tops of the mountains we were passing. Once we cleared the Pass the sun broke out again and remained out for the remainder of the day; and our luck was changing — we spotted another wild creature:
A lot happened during our three days in the Glacier: we experienced vast changes in the weather; we witnessed wild creatures in their native habitat; and we viewed awe-inspiring sights — lakes, rivers, falls, mountains, valleys and millions of trees.
I feel like I left something out? Oh yeah, I didn’t mention glaciers. There were too few glaciers in Glacier National Park: those that still exist are a mere shadow of their past selves. Disappointed, you bet. While in Banff and Yoho I saw a number of glaciers — they too are shrinking quickly. Is this the result of global warming — YES! Who can the finger of blame be pointed at? How about everybody including Mother Nature. Since the start of the Industrial Age in the 18th Century billions of particulates of carbon dioxide and other gases have been emitted into the air by humans; volcanic eruptions like Krakatoa and Mt St Helen’s have also emitted billions of particulates into the air on behalf of Mother Nature. This combo-platter has helped raise the average temperature many degrees over the past two hundred years.
The film documentary “Chasing Ice” uses beautiful film and time lapse photography to show the effects of global warming on glaciers on every continent. I recommend you see it. The fact is we cannot change Mother Nature’s behavior. But we can modify our own. It’s not too late for each of us to become part of the solution. Recycle, walk more, ride transit or bikes. Support environmental causes when you can.
I’m afraid that if we fail, our grandchildren will be holding contests for the re-naming of Glacier National Park. Sky-High National Park, perhaps?
Not very charming is it?