A few glorious days in Glacier National Park

Last summer, we camped just west of Yellowstone National Park, and a sore throat led me to the sweet nectar of ramen from the KOA camp store. I also bought an emergency “hand stitched” fleece blanket. Last week, another sore throat led to more cheap ramen and recuperating on the sofa under that bear blanket and I got to thinking of our latest camping trip, to Glacier National Park.

Recovery on the sofa means lots of assistants

We drove the kids out to Glacier in August and lucked out, getting a campsite at Two Medicine and stayed for three nights. Most of the camp sites in the park can’t be reserved ahead of time, and the park has gotten so popular in the last two summers that you have to troll the campsites, waiting for others to pack up. We’re not the only ones who want to see the glaciers while they last, I suppose.

Campsite backyard
On the path to the Apistoki Falls, which we never found

91-year-old wooden boat, Sinopah, ferried us across Two Medicine lake for a chance to torture the kids with a “miserable” hike to Twin Falls

I took a ridiculous amount of pictures, but truly, if you can go, you should to experience it yourself. The thing that stays with me is how quiet it was, and how dark the night was. We went to sleep the second night to very strong winds rattling the tent. (Don’t worry, the bear fleece was keeping us warm.) I woke in the night once the wind had died and there was no sound, anywhere. No crickets or peepers or even the owls from earlier or wind or distant car traffic or generators or any other human noise. It was the kind of silence that had a weight to it on my ears. I was unsettled by it then, but miss it now.

Winter kill from sap rising fast in warm Chinook winds, then expanding in a sudden refreeze.

We checked out the Two Medicine area, St. Mary and Many Glacier before driving through the park on Going-to-the-Sun highway as we left. Two Medicine lake and a spot on the far side of Swiftcurrent Lake (that edges on the Many Glacier Lodge) were my absolute favorite parts of the park, although we really only saw a fraction of it. We did see some bears ahead of us on the road, twice, from the car, just the way I like. The open-range cattle were more shocking, though, just hanging out in the road, right after any sharp bend.

Recent fire scars remain
One of the old park tour vehicles ahead on the road to St. Mary
Wildfire scars and recovery

Some of us were there for the lichen, some of us were there for the geology

When we were there, wildfires in the park had been burning for about 10 days. No new back-country permits were being issued, and no campfires were allowed anywhere in thepark (camp stoves were still okay at campsites only) but that didn’t affect our plans at all, and we just dealt with hazy skies.

View of Saint Mary Lake, August 12, 2017, hazy from wildfire smoke

I had been hoping to see the Perseid meteor shower from our camp site, but even if the skies hadn’t been smoky, it was cloudy those nights. We were all exhausted from hiking and playing in the river to be too disappointed about this. The kids made sure to have their “special ramen” and made sure our neighbors knew that “ramen makes you toot.” They were from Seattle and before leaving, they gave us a bag of Peet’s ground coffee (because we’d very sadly left ours at home) and I’m still grateful. (I love you, Lisa!) What an amazing place in the world. Number ten on our list of National Parks visited, and number one in our hearts.

Hiding from the wind at Rising Sun along St. Mary Lake
View from the lodge at Many Glacier
The hike begins in good spirits that last a whole quarter mile.
Hiking around Swiftcurrent Lake
Close to the best and “worst” spot in the entire park, a beautiful wooden bride over the river into Swifcurrent Lake. This is where a hot, 2 1/2 mile hike through stupid, gnarled trees and a failed attempt at a trail-side pee (mom’s stupid idea) came together. No amount of Skittles could fix it. Still pretty, though.
Ramen for mood-restoration
Back on the road, near to stop #3 for carsickness
Just after Logan’s Pass on Going-To-The-Sun Road. Don’t worry, Wolverine poop jokes are still alive and well in this family.
Goodbye, Glacier NP. We’re grateful for your spacious, awesome beauty.