Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend in Glacier Park

Katie gets a photo next to a plowed drift on Going to Sun Highway 
On the deck at Apgar Lookout

On top Apgar Mountain with Lake McDonald below
For most of the past decade we've spent at least one day in Glacier National Park over the Memorial Day weekend.
Despite heavy snow in the high country, we decided to go again this year.
On Saturday we took a leisurely drive up U.S. 89 along the Rocky Mountain Front, enjoying the amazing views and small town charms of Fairfield, Choteau, Bynum, Dupuyer and East Glacier Park.
Judging the snow depths we figured that we might have better luck on the west side, so continued on to West Glacier.
We arrived at 2 p.m., but felt we had a pretty good shot at getting up Apgar Lookout, a climb of over 1,800 feet over nearly 3 miles.
The trail weaves its way back and forth through some of the Roberts Fire burn. We found that the burn opened up amazing vistas that we thoroughly enjoyed.
What we hadn't counted on was a temperature of 82 degrees, so we roasted though stripping down to hiking shorts.
From the top we could look down on Lake McDonald all the way across to the Garden Wall, the Swan and Whitefish mountains and the roiling Flathead River below.
We got off the mountain about 5:30 p.m., and had plenty of time to head back to East Glacier Park for a meal at Serrano's and a bed at Terry Sherburne's Mountain Pine Motel.
We love East Glacier Park's laid back feel.
We reacquainted ourselves with the town's charismatic dogs, "Fat Boy," "Sadie," and "Lucy," who somehow made it through another winter.
The Thimbleberry restaurant has reopened after a year of closure, this time under new, young owners. The service was slow, but friendly. We hope it makes it.
On Sunday it was off for a tour of the east side valleys. We didn't stop at Two Med because of reports of snow and bears. At St. Mary's we could drive to the Jackson Overlook where we put on our hiking shoes and walked up and beyond the Siyeh Bend and had a look at the snow plowing equipment. Katie stood at the side of one of the plowed snowdrifts and we figured it was at least 15 feet high. Still lots of snow to clear. Next year I bring skis or snowshoes.
Finally, we hit the Many Glacier area for a look for bears on the side of Mount Altyn. While we didn't find bears we saw as many as 40 mountain goats and about 25 bighorn sheep.
It was a wonderful trip.

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