Saturday, July 12, 2014

Going to the Sun, Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail and a grizzly bear

On Wednesday evening, July 2nd, the full length of the Going to the Sun Road and Logan Pass were opened to vehicle traffic.  We immediately made plans for Thursday to take a drive – exploring the Going to the Sun Road and the Many Glacier area.

As we left the RV Park at 8:30am, there were a few low dark clouds hanging over the mountains.

Flathead River

With our early start, the road wasn’t too crowded, and we made steady progress up to Logan’s Pass, following along behind one of the read tour busses.     DSC_0533









As we climbed, though, the clouds got thicker and we started to get some rain.

Driving into the clouds

We can barely see the peaks!











We followed behind the red bus,


through the clouds and past all of the waterfalls running down the mountainside.

Looking back at the valley


Water flowing under the road!

We stopped at the overlooks to admire the view (as much as we could see!) and take pictures along with all the other tourists!


We drove past the Weeping Wall,

Weeping Wall

watching all the cars go past it as if they were in a car wash!

It's like a car wash!

By the time we were approaching Logan Pass, the rain had stopped and we could see tiny patches of blue sky through the clouds.

Looking back - the sky is starting to clear!

We arrived at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, and it was pretty crowded! 

We reached Logan's Pass!


We took a quick walk through the Visitor Center, but only the rest rooms were open – they were having computer issues, so they couldn’t open the gift shop . . . not that we needed anything!

From the Visitor Center, we walked along the path that was still lined with snow . . .

Snow along the sidewalks


It's tall!

tall snow!

It was cold up there!


The boys added some graffiti to the walls,

Writing on the walls!



and pelted each other with chunks of snow!


For a day that was supposed to be in the 90s, it was pretty chilly up at the continental divide!

We made it to the top!

We had decided that it was going to be a driving day, rather than a hiking day, and most of the trails in the higher elevation were not open yet anyway, so we went back to the car and started down the other side of the pass.


The Big Drift










As we travelled east from Logan’s Pass, the clouds broke up and we saw more and more blue sky!

Logan Pass Visitor Center

Another tunnel

We drove through more tunnels and saw more waterfalls running down the sides of the mountain.

Raging river

A long section of the road to the east of Logan’s Pass is under construction,     Construction Zone

and even though we were fortunate enough to have construction on hold for the holiday weekend, it still meant that several of the overlooks were closed in that area.


We were able to stop for a look at Jackson Glacier, although with the snow still on the mountain, I’m not sure if we actually saw the glacier!  they were much easier to spot at Mt. Rainier!

Jackson Glacier is in there somewhere

When Glacier National Park was established, there were over 150 active glaciers . . . and now there are only 24 . . . and they expect that by the year 2030 they will all be gone.  I wonder if they’ll rename the park??!!

We continued on and drove past St. Mary Lake.  It’s a beautiful lake, and I was trying to get some good pictures, although there was almost nowhere that you could pull over – all of the overlooks were closed!

St Mary Lake


St. Mary Lake











I had to get most of these while we were moving!

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake











We exited the park at St. Mary, and drove around to Many Glacier, where we re-entered the park on the other side of the mountains.

Many Glacier Area

This is the area of the park most of the remaining glaciers are, and there are some nice hikes over there, but we weren’t planning on hiking today . . . there’s a really nice hike to Iceberg Lake (10 miles, though!) that we would have loved to do, but it was closed due to a bridge being washed away by flooding.  It wasn’t scheduled to be replaced until late July or possibly even August!

We arrived at the picnic area and had our lunch, and then thought about what else we wanted to do.  It was early still, and there wasn’t much road left to drive on, so Nicolas and Bryce decided to checkout the hiking trails . . . I thought we weren’t going to do any hiking!


There was a 2.6 mile nature trail (read “easy”) that circled the lake, so we decided to give it a try.     Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail


We started walking, and the view was spectacular!

Swiftcurrent River

I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of this lake!

Swiftcurrent Lake












The trail went around Swiftcurrent Lake, which was connected to several other lakes.  We crossed over the river where Josephine Lake flowed into Swiftcurrent Lake.

Crossing the river

We passed by a cute little cabin in the woods,

Cabin on the lake

which turned out to be a boathouse for the tour boat that takes visitors out on the lake.

Tourboat on the lake










We continued on (through grizzly territory), and past lots of people wearing bells on their clothes (supposed to let the bears know you’re coming!)!  We tried not to laugh!  Have you heard how to tell black bear poop from grizzly bear poop?  Black bear poop had berries in it, and grizzly bear poop has bells in it!!


Soon we reached Glacier Lodge, which overlooks the lake.

Glacier Lodge

It’s an old log structure, and we went inside to check out the lobby and some of the old displays they have.

Lobby Fireplace


They have lots of old pictures and advertisements on boards in the lobby.


The Lodge is at the north end of the lake, and out back there is a waterfall where water is flowing from this lake through a river to the next lake . . . with all the water that is flowing, it’s hard to believe that this lake still has any water in it at all!

Waterfall from the lake

Lodge guests could go on tours of the lake, or even rent kayaks.  This is probably a great little lake for kayaking!


Leaving the lodge, we were almost back to the picnic area, and just had to walk through this last stretch of meadow . . . prime bear area!!

Hiking around the lake

Almost back!











It had turned into such a beautiful day, and the hike around the lake was easy . . . and so scenic!

We arrived back at the picnic area (now VERY crowded!!) and got back in the car.  After a quick drive through the campground loop to check it out, we headed back out of Many Glacier.  As we drove back past the picnic area, we noticed an alarm going off on the side of the rest rooms, but didn’t know what it meant.

Just a few feet further down the road, there were a couple of cars stopped.  We thought they were looking at a deer, but when we got closer, we saw this . . .

It's a bear!

Doesn’t that meadow look very similar to the one we were just walking through??!!  It was just across the road! 

We parked with the others alongside of the road, and stood behind the cars to get a few pictures.  There was only the width of the road and maybe 30 additional feet between us and the bear!  And it continued to walk closer to the road . . .

We initially thought it was a black bear, but one we got a good look,

Grizzly Bear -- really close!

we realized that it was a grizzly!  Very cool!

We didn’t hang around much longer, though;  it was walking closer to the road, and getting closer to our car!

That was a very cool way to end our visit at Glacier, though!

On the way back over the Going to the Sun road, we stopped for another magnificent view of St. Mary Lake,

St. Mary Lake

Enjoying the beautiful day!











Driving past the weeping wall


and got our own car wash at the Weeping Wall (good thing I got my window closed – I didn’t know Tom was going to drive right through it!!).









It was a beautiful day, and we were so glad that the road opened in time for us to experience it!


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Drive and the Grizzly was COOOOOOOL!!!!!!


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