Thursday, August 29, 2013

8/29 "Going to the Sun" Highway

This is the main road that goes from the east to the west entrances of Glacier National Park.  Unfortunately, it was built in the 30s and is very narrow and winding.  For that reason, vehicles over 21' are prohibited, but the National Park Service does provide a shuttle service.  Today, was supposed to be sunny and pleasant, so I rode my bike to the nearby St. Mary Visitor Center, parked and locked it, and hopped on one of the shuttles. 

I stayed on to the main transfer point, which is Logan's Pass.

There is a small visitor center there, but not really much in terms of it being an interpretive center.  Originally, I had planned this as a short stop and was going to take the next shuttle all the way to the western entrance.  When I got back, I would take the boardwalk to Hidden Lake.  However, since clouds were building up I decided I had better take my walk right away, while the sun was out and I could get good photos. 

The boardwalk was uphill, and had very large steps.  It was 1.5 miles long, which would have made a 3 mile roundtrip hike.  I decided that was just too much for me, so I stopped about halfway through to take this photo back at the visitor center, which you can hardly see in the distance.  Great views up here, even if I did not get to go all the way to the lake.

Good thing, I did.  It got more and more cloudy over time.  I hopped on a smaller westbound shuttle, and headed for MacDonald Lake, which is the last stop before the final terminus, Apgar.  I will be in Apgar on Monday, so I'll see that then.  These two photos were taken from the bus, so the quality is not the best.  If I had had a car, I could have pulled over in a few spots and taken better pictures, but frankly, it is a difficult drive even in a car, so the shuttle was still best.   West of the pass, they even use smaller shuttles because of the narrow road. 

This is the MacDonald Lake Lodge, a very nice historic hotel and restaurant complex.  I walked around for a while and took these photos.

Love this fireplace!  The inside of the lodge is unique and has that national park feel.

Time was running out because I did not want to miss the last shuttle.  By this point, also, it was really starting to look nasty and the temperatures had dropped.  Regretted not bring the rain jacket I had laid out and then left behind this morning.

Does this not look like the ultimate U-shaped glacier-carved valley?  By this point, you have probably noticed the lack of big glaciers.  It is predicted that in 7-8 years, Glacier National Park will have no Glaciers because of global warming.

The last 20 miles, the shuttle drove through hail, rain, and strong winds.  The rain had let up a bit by the time we got to the St Mary Visitor Center.  I grabbed my very wet bike (which is not supposed to get wet because of the electrical components) and rode the mile back to the campground.  By the time I got it onto the bike rack and covered up, I was completely soaked, so changed into dry clothes.  It was SO nice to get inside and warm!  Luckily the windows I had left open had not let too much rain in and my bed was dry.  Only puddle was in the bathroom where I had left the overhead vent open.

Long day, but very enjoyable.  Tomorrow is a rest and work day.

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