June 20, 2015 Long roads, bear and marmots!

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Our first stop of the day.

The sun is shining! There are no looming dark clouds above us and the birds are singing happily in the trees. What a lovely start to our day! Planning to hit the road early we woke the kids a little after 7am, ate and packed up what we would need for our drive on the Going to the Sun road. Its weird not taking the RV with us…I really just always have everything I need πŸ™‚ I made some snacks (because everyone is always hungry) and had lots of water, variety of clothing etc. The park doesn’t allow dogs on any of the trails…super bummer! Canada was wonderful that way. Dogs were fine just as long as they were on leash and you picked up after them. This presented a little bit of a problem just because it limited how long we could stay gone. We left him in the RV and began our journey.

The kids…well, all of us, were still pretty tired. Ellie was having a rough go this early. I know that once we were on our way she’d liven up. The beginning of the road traveled alongside Lake McDonald. The lake is one of two of the parks largest lakes. It is rather long and narrow. The water is a deep blue green. Our first pullout was a waterfall lookout.DSC_1599 I love waterfalls. They are so powerful and sound so magnificent as the water crashes over rocks and over ledges. We took a few pictures and then jumped back in our car. Getting around is a lot easier in this little vehicle!

A little farther up the road there were a bunch of cars stopped…..looking, looking…two little black bears in the woods. Cool! They were pretty deep in but you could see them. Wow, under an hour in and we saw a bear! DSC_1601The road continued alongside McDonald river and began climbing in elevation. The vista’s were lovely! Lots of mountain tops and hills covered with green fields and trees. Waterfalls could be seen near and far. We are planning to make it to Logan Pass (about 32 miles into the 50 mile road) and check out the visitor center. There are a couple of long hikes there but we may just do a little of one. They say the visitor center parking lot is full by noon which is one reason that we wanted to get and early start.

One pull out gave us a gorgeous view of a mountain with the name of Heaven’s Peak…nearly 9,000 feet tall. We ventured along a trail there for a little bit. The morning was so beautiful with the clear skies and the sounds of nature around us. I love looking into the trees and seeing the moss covered ground dappled with sunlight that has made its way through the pine branches.DSC_1616

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Weeping wall…lovely!

Back on the road we reach one of the tunnels. Not very long but impressive with its three arched windows for viewing. These windows were actually build on a whim by the laborers while they constructed this road that links the west side of the park with the east side of the park. The road was started in 1911 and took 21 years to complete. DSC_1617They stopped construction during the depression and the average day pay for a worker was around $1.50 and if you were a skilled worker than you could make $5.00 or more a day. Rough work they had to do, many areas are blasted out mountainsides with rock guardrails to keep the traffic safely on the roadway. There were some hairpin turns and some amazing waterfalls! There were a few times people were doing things that made me question their intelligence. For example…a mom (yes, a mom) was sitting on this rock guardrail with a drop off behind her, getting ready to take a picture of her kids by the weeping wall. There is no turnout, there is no where to park near this wall. It is busy with traffic and these roads are not wide. You had to be quite defensive since people hug the center line due to the rock walls that seem that they could touch the car and the cliff on the other side. I once again had Ben’s quote come back to me “It’s always dangerous for stupid people”. trying to drive by her and her kids on the other side of the road…really? What people will do for a picture that they probably will never even print!

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At Logan pass visitor’s center

We reached Logan Pass at 9:30 am and there was still plenty of parking. The visitors center had some neat info but not as much as I would have expected. The gift shop was busy of course (this is where the money is apparently) and we just had to check it out for a bit πŸ™‚ DSC_1660 DSC_1666

There was still a lot of snow on the mountain side where they have one hike. The trail goes up the mountain and across and ends up being about a 4 mile round trip hike. We knew that we probably were not going to make it too far. When you looked up the mountainside it appeared pretty daunting with all the snow and just the sheer height of it. We started off and immediately saw a Hoary Marmot. I know…weird name right? It looked like a groundhog to me. The snow wasn’t too terribly difficult. They had wooden walkways that were exposed in parts. It was a pretty steep climb and Ellie was NOT loving it. The snow helped though πŸ™‚ We made it maybe a half mile up and decided that we were good with our progress and it seemed like a good time to head down. I had brought some garbage sacks just because we may need them for something and the kids decided to try to slide down on them. Didn’t work too well but it was certainly entertaining!

Back to the car we continued to the end of the road. I spotted a bear close to the road but by the time we found a turn out and got back there it had headed pretty deep into the woods. We could only spot him briefly.

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Getting ready to slide on garbage bags πŸ™‚

We walked down to St. Mary lake and enjoyed the views there and then made it to the end of the road. Guess what we did? Went into a gift shop πŸ™‚ Deciding that we had been gone for long enough we decided to head back to camp. It was nearly 1:00pm and the trip back would take nearly two hours. The return drive was just as lovely! At certain times it appeared you were going to drive off the edge of the world! DSC_1670 DSC_1671 DSC_1678

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Rocks under the water at St. Mary’s lake

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Enjoying the views at St. Mary’s lake

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What your hair can do when its dirty πŸ™‚

Gizmo did just fine of course and we relaxed for a bit before taking the car to a bike path (the only place dogs can be) so that we could give Gizmo some exercise. We walked on a path that was way shorter than we expected and ended up at Apgar Village again. This is where we were the first evening here. We headed down to the lake side and checked out the boats for rent. I think this is on the agenda for Father’s day. The kids found a little bat that was injured..or dying…and pushed him into the shade. The girls were quite upset about the future of this little bat. We decided to let Gizmo take a swim. The water was really cold but we really wanted to go in so we threw the stick. He went out and back, out and back so many times until he was so darn cold he couldn’t do it. He was shaking so badly!!! Poor dog! I had brought him a towel and we dried him off best we could. His teeth were even chattering! We walked into the village and were standing by a store while Scott ran to the bathroom and some guy says ” What’s with the dog?” I assured him that the dog was just cold…and quickly walked away…bad dog parents! Ha, ha…really, he is a dog. At least he knew when to stop πŸ™‚ DSC_1726

Back at camp we made burgers and watched Ben whittle some more, the girls played with sticks and Scott and I enjoyed the fire.

Great day today! We did a lot of driving and not as much hiking as we had thought, but we will do some in the next day or two. We are here for a total of 4 nights and then we are headed somewhere…not sure yet. Possibly southern Montana or Idaho or even somewhere in Washington. We will see….

That is the fun of it πŸ™‚

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