Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two heavenly days in Glacier Park

Deep snow nearly covers the trail sign near Scalplock Mountain

Katie crossing Ole Creek 
Colorful outcrop on Ole Creek Trail
This weekend we finally took our Valentine's trip to the Izaak Walton Lodge in Essex on the border of the Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness.
Our original trip literally blew away on Feb. 12 when we got stuck in Browning unable to get across Marias Pass to our Essex destination.
It turns out that it was worth the wait.
We had a wonderful, relaxing time with great food at the Izaak Walton, and got in two days in the Glacier backcountry --- a snowshoe trip up Ole Creek on the flank of Scalplock Mountain, and a cross country ski trip from the Glacier boundary to Two Medicine Lake.
On the west side of the Continental Divide we found crusted snow that had been pelted pretty hard by rain and more wet snow.  That's why we went with the snowshoes.
On the east side of the Divide, there was plenty of snow, more than on the west side, but much of it had been glazed over by harsh wind.  At nearly 5,000 feet, though, the glaze turned to powder.
The temperatures were in the 25-40 degree range; real spring weather.
On Saturday the sun broke through the clouds and it was quite pleasant.  We skied in our tee-shirts and I never did put on a any gloves.
On Sunday on the east side, we bundled up a bit more, although there wasn't much of a wind there either.
Both were up and back trips.
We saw elk and mountain lion signs both days.  We were also looking for bear, which we know are emerging now from their dens, but found nothing.
I was particularly thrilled that we got to Two Medicine Lake.  It was something I have talked about doing for years, but had never gotten around to doing.  It was very overcast with the clouds quite low, so it didn't offer much in the way of photography.
However, it was a great thrill to finally do this trip.
We stopped at Running Eagle Falls (formerly Trick Falls) on the way.  I was surprised to see open water.
The Izaak Walton Lodge is quite pleasant, but vastly overpriced.
A room there is now in the $160 per night range.
We went because I got a Groupon coupon that lowered the price to $99 and included complimentary wine, rental skis and a ticket to access the Walton's groomed trails.
I can't see the point of skiing those with Glacier at your doorstep.
We felt that we did much better enjoying the lodge and going into the park to enjoy the backcountry.
Running Eagle (formerly Trick) Falls at Two Med 
Two Med Lake

Two Med Camp store covered to roof in snow

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