Daddy's Christmas Angel

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Glacier National Park - Memories from a Summer Visit

During our visit to Glacier National Park last summer, our family discovered that one week is not nearly enough time to explore all the possibilities that exist in this glorious and foreboding natural landscape. To investigate the west side of the park, we stayed in Kalispell, about 45 minutes away. From this location, we were able to visit Apgar, Lake McDonald, Logan's pass, the town of Whitefish, and much more. On a future trip, I would like to stay in a town on the east side of the park, near the Blackfeet Reservation and closer to the Canadian border. That way, we could not only explore the other side of Glacier, but we could cross over into Canada and travel around Waterton Lakes National Park.

Our first day of exploration at Glacier took us through the west entrance to Apgar, then on to Lake McDonald to visit the historic lodge that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014. The lodge overlooks the lake and is located on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Our goal was to drive over Logan Pass and along Going-to-the-Sun Road to the east entrance to the park. Along the way, the road was as treacherous and as beautiful as we expected.

"Boardwalk to Hidden Lake" ©Mary Montague Sikes
The following day, we took a ranger-led excursion along a nature trail at Apgar, then we headed back to the Lake McDonald Lodge where we boarded a cruise boat to see the lake with its crystal clear waters and dramatic mountain views. Later, we went to Avalanche Creek for the short trail walk through spectacular woods filled with ancient trees. A beautifully designed watercolor sign said these
"Boardwalk Through the Forest" ©Mary Montague Sikes
trees were there when Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence. For the first time, we used the free Jammer shuttle.

We spent most of the next day in Whitefish, first going to the Whitefish Mountain Resort that features a variety of lifts. I was excited to discover many little art galleries in the town, including one featuring almost all encaustics by artist Karen Minton.

Our next excursion into Glacier National Park started at the Apgar Transit Center where we parked
"Jammer" ©Mary Montague Sikes
our car and boarded one of the free shuttles. We found we should have started out a little earlier because by mid-morning there was a considerable wait period to catch a shuttle. While it was convenient not to drive and park a car, killing time awaiting the arrival of shuttle required a great deal of patience.

The last day of our trip inside the park, we visited Discovery Cabin which was built in 1925. We returned to McDonald Lake via a Jammer, the driver of which passed around a journal book with an handcrafted stitchery cover for passengers to sign. Turned out that most of the shuttle drivers are also school bus drivers during the school year.

We flew home, glad for an unique journey into a major National Park and longing for a return visit. Our trip left us with many memories and lots of photographs that made us thankful for the digital age.

Mary Montague Sikes


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Beautiful place to hang out for a week. The Jammer shuttles are kind of cool.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

We loved the Jammer shuttles, Alex. Such a great and distinctive idea for the park.

Julie Flanders said...

I've always wanted to visit this park. Everyone I know who has gone has nothing but wonderful things to say. It looks so beautiful! One of these days I'll make it. :)

Mary Montague Sikes said...

It is beautiful, Julie. Wish we could have stayed longer there. Thanks for visiting.

Helen Macie Osterman said...

It's amazing how many authors are also artists. It's that creative right side of the brain. I was a portrait artist for many years until arthritis made it painful to hold the brushes. I was also writing at the time and decided to make that my full time job. Have never regretted it.