2017 Road Trip - Day 8: Glacier National Park

Back to archive


After my first morning run in a while, we stopped at Montana Wheat for breakfast. I had my fourth breakfast burrito in three days, but I think it was the best one yet. I also had a huckleberry bear claw, which was great.

An hour later we arrived at Glacier, and we were greeted with signs celebrating NPS's 101st birthday, and shortly after by two young deer crossing the street.

Our first itinerary item for the day was to complete Going-to-the-Sun Road. We did not realize at the time that it's the only road in the park, so driving across the whole thing just for the sake of it doesn't really make much sense. Regardless, it provides a great overview of the park by both definitions.

We stopped a few times along the way to admire something or take photos, but our first substantive stop was the trail to the Berring Falls (sp?). We moved slowly, admiring the rocks, mountains, and trees of the landscape and the lake nearby. We stopped briefly to watch a moose fishing in the bay across the lake, and periodically to stare at a particular feature. A little over a mile later we reached the falls, where we followed a few more strenuous short paths to vantage points of the waterfall; most of them close enough for the water to freckle us with its mist.

After the short hike back to the car, we completed the Going-to-the-Sun Road and stopped at the Visitor's Center at the east entrance after circling like vultures for a parking space to become vacant. The center advertised a Star Party taking place today from nine until midnight, which we purchased a ticket for. We once again tried skipping lunch after hiking, which caused me to sleepily become annoyed that I left all of my clothes in the hotel; the temperature is expected to drop considerably after dark at Logan Pass's high elevation where the party is to be held.

We exited the east entrance and reentered at the Main Glacier entrance to the north. Because we now had to work around being back in time for the party, the trail to the glaciers at the end of the road was too long to complete so we turned back with just a far-off glimpse of them. We ruled out driving for four hours to return to the hotel for my warm clothing, so we stopped at a gift shop to purchase some sweat pants which will have to suffice.

We once again realized our mistake of skipping lunch, so we drove for an hour to the other side of Going-to-the-Sun road and ate lunch at Jammer Joe's at the McDonald Lake Lodge, where I had a falafel burger on pita which wasn't bad and a few sips of huckleberry cream soda which wasn't great. We purchased sandwiches for later and candy for dessert at the gift shop near the restaurant and headed for the Trail of the Cedars (?), a short walk in the forest nearby.

Nighttime was approaching, so we headed back up the now-tiresome Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass. There are two trails that begin there, so we parked and hiked until the party began. The first trail was the Highland Trail, a treacherous and unnerving pass above Going-to-the-Sun Road that stretches for miles into Canada. We only did the first mile, which is high up and unnerving but by no means treacherous. At our stopping point we met four people who were searching for their lost drone at the edge of the cliffside hundreds of feet above the road. We learned they had been searching for hours and had even nearly-completed climbing from the road to the trail without equipment, but they found the drone and celebrated minutes after we arrived.

The sun we beginning to move behind the mountain to the west, so we returned to the Logan Pass Visitor's Center to buy winter hats in preparation for the frigid night and then complete the first half of the second trail, to Hidden Lake. The hike took place on a wooden walkway up the mountainside, and we were greeted at the peak with a beautiful view of the lake hidden between the adjacent mountains. We enjoyed the view and the company of some fellow hikers until a little after 8, when we returned to the Visitor's Center in time for the party.

After eating the sandwich I purchased earlier, running in the morning, and hiking for several hours, I was overfull and tired and regrettably didn't enjoy the party very much. The introductory speech and video were both informative and interesting, but the group session was geared toward children and our group was particularly obnoxious. After the group session, all that remained was to look into the telescopes they had erected in the parking lot and stare at dark sky to look at the stars. I enjoy looking through telescopes, but for some unknown reason 4 of them were aimed toward Saturn, and by 11 o'clock we had run out of things to do.

We were strongly encouraged to not leave the party before midnight because headlights ruin the night vision necessary to see stars in any interesting capacity, but at 11 many others were getting as bored and ready-to-leave as we were so we followed their lead and left early. Going-to-the-Sun Road is even slower and less enjoyable to drive at night, so after descending and our hour drive back to Kalispell, early meant being in bed at 2am.

Tomorrow we make the 10-hour drive to Medora, ND for the last stop of our vacation before home.