Den & Kath's Vacation '99 - Day 5

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Thursday we got an early start towards Glacier National Park. We saw lots of wildlife along the way, including two mule deer fawns with their mother and two mule deer bucks in velvet running together. We made a brief stop in Kalispell to get some groceries, then headed for the park.

On a ranger's recommendation, we found a campsite in the Sprague Creek Campground. After setting up camp, we headed into the clouds on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway, the only road through the park and over the Continental Divide. This highway just has to be seen to be believed. Built in the late 1920's, much of the road is literally blasted out of the side of mountains. Every turn along the way revealed incredible new views! Many of the mountain peaks were shrouded in clouds, and the temperature was in the low 50's. There were waterfalls everywhere, and near Logan Pass there is a rock wall called the Weeping Wall. It's a stretch of road that was blasted out of the rock, opening up a number of springs that constantly fall on the road.

Once again, we hit a traffic jam near Logan Pass. After sitting for some time, we finally advanced far enough to see five bighorn sheep running along the mountainside. We only caught a glimpse of them, and they were the only sheep I saw. Kath saw one more on the drive down the mountain, but there was nowhere to stop and watch him. The traffic jam continued after the sheep were out of sight, so we kept looking for wildlife. We soon spotted two mountain goats near the road. This time we managed to pull into a turnout and get out for a short walk. We saw a mountain goat kid in the stunted trees near the turnout. We watched as two adult mountain goats tried to get to the kid while avoiding the pressing crowds. We headed back to the truck and watched, again, in amazement as the mountain goats rushed the crowd, trying to push them back.

After a brief stop at the Logan Pass Visitor Center (a wilderness mob scene), we headed for the campsite. After a little time in camp, the clouds finally cleared away. We again went out to explore the park, but decided to stay clear of the Going-to-the-Sun Highway because it seemed to be the highlight (crowd scene) of the park. Instead, we drove to Polebridge, Montana, which sits at the northwest corner of the park. The drive provided incredible views of the mountains in the park, and was one of the most secluded areas we visited on the trip.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at the Apgar Village Visitor Center. We asked a ranger for a hike recommendation for the next morning. The ranger was most knowledgeable and happy to help in describing a couple of hikes we could take. On the whole trip we found the National Park Service rangers to be cheerful and very helpful. It's got to be a VERY tough job dealing with some of the visitors the national parks get, but they seem to do a fantastic job.

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