Monday, October 22, 2012

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Montana: A Place to Renew Your Spirit

Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
Recently, I came upon an article about Glacier National Park promoting it as a place to go in the fall to renew your spirit. It was by Nancy Adair at the Spirited Woman website.  As I read her description of the park it brought back memories of my trip to Glacier with my family in 1961.  We drove from our home in Minneapolis across North Dakota and most of Montana to get there and spent a week camping in the park, sleeping in our umbrella tent and cooking on our camp stove and over the fire.  As I still do when I travel, I kept a diary of the trip.  My parents saved my diary of the Glacier trip, and I found it recently when I was going through some old family photo albums. My entries note both our activities of the day and more mundane issues such as the weather and what we ate for dinner. (In one entry I describe making peach cobbler over the campfire.  In another, I tell how I burned all the lamb chops for dinner!)  I have put some excerpts of our daily activities below.  Bear in mind that I was seventeen when I wrote them!  For information about visiting the park today, I recommend that you read Nancy Adair’s article linked above.  You can also go to the National Parks website for Glacier at http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm.


Glacier National Park 
Excerpts from Caroline’s 1961 Vacation Log
August 5
We entered Glacier at 1:00.  Our campsite is nice, near St. Mary (Rising Sun Campground) and after it was set up we swam at Lost Lake, a beautiful, cool, but refreshing lake at the bottom of a mountain.

August 6
We first went to Sun Point and then walked to Baring Falls.  The walk was so pretty we used up all the film in the cameras! 


Hike to Virginia Falls with Ranger
 August 7
We got up early for a 9:00 hike to Virginia Falls.  Since no one else was there, we got a specially guided tour by the ranger.  The hike didn’t really seem like six miles because he knew so much and made it sound so interesting.  We ate our lunch on a beautiful grassy ledge about half way up the falls, where we were continually sprayed with mist.

August 8
Most of today was spent in the car recuperating from yesterday’s hike. ... We stopped at Avalanche campground and went on a self-guided nature trail and saw a bear.

August 9
The clouds descended and the rain poured forth as I stayed in my tent all morning reading,  ignoring the deluge in hopes that it would desist. [I was reading the
Scarlet Letter, which today sounds like rather ambitious summer reading.  Perhaps it inspired my rather ambitious prose.]

August 10
We took a somewhat leisurely hike back to Hidden Lake for lunch, photographing wildflowers along the way.  We saw three ptarmigan, who were so tame that I got within eight feet to take a picture.  By the same rock on the way back Steve and I saw a hoary marmot, but he, not being so friendly, ducked into his hole before we could photograph him. 

August 11
This morning we arose bright and early for our hike along the Garden Wall.  For the first hour and a half it was rather chilly because of being in the shade of the mountain.  Later the valley dropped below us, revealing a spectacular view, at one point all the way to the end of Lake McDonald.  After four and a half hours of easy walking, with the exception of one switchback, we stopped for a picnic lunch within view of the Granite Park chalet. The last three and half miles went surprisingly fast.  After recuperating for an hour at the chalet with a 35 cent piece of pie, we descended to the end of the trail.

August 12
After lunch we decided to go to Waterton Lakes National Park [the Canadian side of Glacier National Park.] After four miles, however, we got a flat tire, out in the middle of nowhere. [As I remember, the only road connecting the parks was rough gravel.]  The trip, when we finally arrived was worth it, for the scenery was beautiful and the Prince of Wales Hotel was just like a castle out of an old English storybook.


I have fond memories of the Glacier trip and remember the park for its spectacular scenery and as a place not overcrowded with tourists.  Several years ago, one of my brothers returned to Glacier and went back to many of the same places we visited in 1961.  One difference now is that the glaciers, for which the park is named, are rapidly melting due to global warming.  Nevertheless, it is still one of our most beautiful national parks and a perfect place for renewing your spirit at any time of year.

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