Back Through the Going-to-the-Sun Road
July 30, 2009
We got up and were on the road shortly before 8am! Partly that was in anticipation of breakfast at St. Mary, Montana ... and we had a few miles to go to get to the U.S. border.
Having spent the night near the south end of the small town of Cardston, we were almost immediately in farmland, and had a view of distant misty mountains over the grain fields.
A neatly laid out grain farm in extreme southern Canada.
A good guess is that it is feeding time since this column of cows was headed purposefully in the same direction. Most cows we saw were on the open range, so perhaps they gave extra feed to the cows with new calves.
We are getting a little better view of the mountains to the west now, so we are nearing the end of the plains.
The clean air and wide open spaces really made you look forward to the day.
We reached the U.S. border and quickly were on our way toward St. Mary, Montana.
We took the luxury of having a nice breakfast all together at the restaurant at the St. Mary Resort. The Lodge was a big log structure with big windows looking out on the mountains of Glacier National Park.
Entering the Going-to-the-Sun Road
After breakfast Mark took the wheel again so I could enjoy taking pictures. We entered Glacier Park alongside St. Mary Lake and got this view of it with Wild Goose Island prominently positioned.
Leaving St. Mary Lake, we started the climb into the angularly shaped mountains. Maybe that's evidence of glacial formation of the mountains. One of the interesting features of the mountains of Glacier Park are the colors of the rocks of the mountains, like these red ones. And when we looked in the streams, like McDonald Creek, we saw the different colors we saw in the mountains that supplied them.
Above is our approach to the Logan Pass visitor center, which you can just see at the end of the road cut into the rock of the mountain. This view is in the opposite direction of those we took leaving Logan Pass on last Wednesday.
The unofficial greeter when we reached the visitor center was this Columbian ground squirrel. His mouth is wide open because he is giving full voice to his enthusiastic call. He seems totally unafraid and is sitting in clear view of his burrow. We were familiar with these characters from our 1993 trip and even as far back as 1982. This guy is probably a distant descendant. These guys look and act very much like prairie dogs.
As we moved above the visitor center the meadows were awash with color - much brighter than when we had been here a few days earlier. We judged that there must have been a good rain and the asters and yellow daisies were really showing their color.
This caused me to get way behind on the hike because I was just mesmerized by these meadows.
This mountain goat was munching away among the flowers, one of a herd of eight. I zeroed in on him because the others were in the midst of their summer molt and looked rather scruffy.
There was a refreshing ruggedness about this terrain just below the snow line. And it certainly was bursting with color from the flowers.
This comfortable marmot was just going on about his business, having seen hundreds like us.
There were a large number of people out to enjoy this beautiful day on the trail.
I was able to catch up with Jeff, Jordan and Ashleigh because they stopped to watch a marmot.
Of course it could be that the marmot was just as amused by watching them.
I watched this marmot cross a snowmelt stream and graze on the grass close to the trail.
A very international crowd and lots of family groups were out on the trail.
To a native of the area, these combinations of conifers and snow probably seem ordinary, but to me they were magical.
We watched the runoff water from high on the mountain through the patches of snow. Flowers grabbed a foothold among the rocks in the high areas, and there was lush grass along the streams lower down.
This Columbian ground squirrel was really in his element - lush green grass and an abundant crop of flowers to munch on. What else could a ground squirrel wish for? Of course you had to ignore all these gawking tourists coming along on the trail.
As I was walking along the trail, this mountain goat just casually strolled out of the bushes and toward the trail.
The crowd of hikers stopped to let the mountain goat amble across the trail.
A short time later when I caught up with Jeff and the girls, I was surprised to find Mark with them, when he had been behind me. I asked him when he passed me, and this picture answers that question. I had been so concentrated on taking pictures of the goat that I didn't notice that I was taking a picture of Mark too! And he was taking a picture of the goat with me in the background!