Glacier National Park – Oct 9 and 10 (Days 38 and 39)

Welcome to Glacier National Park, our fourth national park in two weeks. We’re not going for a speed record, but we’re amazed at how much beautiful country we’re finding in these preserved areas.

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Have we said this before? We have found the best postcard-worthy spot in the world:

McDonald Lake in the morning

McDonald Lake in the morning

That was our view across McDonald Lake as we headed into the west side of Glacier National Park. Heavenly.

The road through the park, called Going to the Sun Road, was etched along the edges of massive mountains, taking four years to build, from 1928 to 1932. It’s amazing that people in that difficult economic period had the inspiration and dedication to construct this road; we’re glad they did.

Follow this road to go to the sun.

Follow this road to go to the sun.

From Logan’s Pass at the top, we hiked along Highline Trail. Michael always tries to find trails that are fairly easy, with minimal elevation change. I don’t like climbing hills! So Highline is fairly flat, unless you look—or step!—inches to the side and then the drop is precipitous.

The easy walk Michael picked out.

The easy walk Michael picked out.

During summer season, the National Park Service provides a cable hand rail for the faint of heart. Naturally as we are continuing our October adventures, we are catching Glacier as it closes. The guardrail has been removed and lies neatly coiled on the hillside.

A lot of good it does us up here!

A lot of good it does us up here!

At least the cable pins were available every 20 feet or so.

Holding on to the cable support for dear life.

Holding on to the cable support for dear life.

Experience the hike yourself, if you dare, in this video.

 

We weren’t the only nimble hikers on the mountain. This is  a bighorn sheep. Both male and female have the amazing curled horns.

Sighting of another one of the major wildlife species here in the mountains.

Sighting of another one of the major wildlife species here in the mountains.

On our way down the mountain we stopped once more at McDonald Lake and enjoyed an even better view. It was mid-afternoon, the lighting had changed, and a few clouds had come up.  Even more perfect than the morning.  Can’t you just imagine this as a beautiful painting?

Perfection!

Perfection!

Imagination became reality. We stumbled upon an artists’ enclave of a half dozen ladies doing plein air oil paintings of the view, each a bit different from the others and each one beautiful. Members of the group have taken some classes together and frequently find themselves in the same spots enjoying the peaceful views and creating masterpieces.

Joann Steadd at the easel.

Joann Sleadd at the easel.

We discovered a connection with this painter, Joann Sleadd, in an actual Kodak moment. She spent many years in the photographic industry, working as a retoucher. (Think back to how good your high school yearbook picture looked, all blemishes and stubble removed; that is thanks to the painstaking, detailed care of a retoucher.) Joann started working with black-and-white portrait retouching and was one of the early and very best in adapting to color work. She was so good that Kodak hired her to create a training film for the industry; she spent several months in Rochester doing this work. That was about the time Nancy started her Kodak career. In later years, Joann and Nancy both attended PMA and PPA, the big trade shows in the industry, crossing paths, but never meeting until now. It is a small and very beautiful world, made more beautiful by the art these ladies create. Thanks for sharing.

Day 2 in Glacier was the east side. Because the Going to the Sun road is closed beyond Logan’s Pass for pre-snow construction work, we took the long way around the outside of the park and reached Many Glacier. As we listened to people talking about this spot, we thought they were saying Mini Glacier. In fact, some of the glaciers have had so much melting that they look more like large melting snowdrifts than glaciers. Experts predict the last of these will melt away by 2030.

Diminishing glaciers. Many to mini

Diminishing glaciers. Many to mini

We were sure that somewhere up in these hills, mountain goats were scampering around.

Can you see the mountain goat here?

Can you see the mountain goat here?

Sure enough, we spotted three and captured them with our little point-and-shoot camera…over a mile away.

Now can you find the mountain goats?

Now can you find the mountain goats?

With a really great lens and a closer vantage point, we would have seen this.

Photo by Darklich 14, not us. (Darn it.)

Photo by Darklich 14, not us. (Darn it.)

Despite the late season, the aspen here still held all their leaves, creating vibrant splashes of yellow.

Michael has found his perfect aspen! By the dozen.

Michael has found his perfect aspen! By the dozen.

And we have another beautiful reflection, this time in Two Medicine Lake.

East Glacier National Park, Lake

Rising Wolf Mountain behind Two Medicine Lake

Glacier connects with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, forming the joint International Peace Park World Heritage Site. From our spot at the northeastern part of the park we had a choice: Retrace our path south 2 1/2 hours around the park to head to Idaho…or go north into Alberta Canada. With the beautiful weather, we’re stampeding to Calgary Canada, an unexpected treat.

Sunset over the Calgary range

Sunset over the Alberta range

 

 

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