Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Colorful Glacier buttoning up for Fall

This young ram put on a show on the Highline Trail.
If you like color, now is the time to head to Glacier Park's east side.
The aspen, cottonwood and ground cover are in glorious fall array.
The west side larch are still a couple of weeks off yet.
Katie below Haystack
We went up for some easy climbing, crawling up Haystack Butte (elevation: 7,486 feet) off the Highline Trail and Two Medicine's Scenic Point (elevation: 7,522 feet).
The smoke coming in from Idaho fires was fairly thick when we did Haystack on Saturday, obscuring some of the spectacular views.
It is a 10 mile roundtrip with about1,000 feet of elevation gain from the Logan Pass trailhead. We scrambled up the small peak's southeast side from the saddle between it and Mount Gould.
We saw a large red fox dart below us.
Despite the smoke we could see the Stony Indian peaks to the north, Heaven's Peak, Mounts Cannon and Oberlin to the west and south and Mount Gould immediately to the west.
Besides the fox we had to shoo a bighorn ram from the trail to complete our trip.
The ground cover put on a show.
On Sunday a cold front passed through and it dropped the temperatures and cleared the skies.
We trotted up Scenic Point, a gain of about 2,300 feet, enjoying the views in every direction.  The early time of day and angle of the sun made the bright colors in the Two Med valley, particularly beneath Apistoki peak, pop.
We enjoyed watching bighorn sheep feed high on the side of Apistoki and saw what we thought was a black bear scamper across the plateau beneath Scenic Point's summit.
It was so clear on the way up that Mounts Phillips and Doody popped up on the western horizon and St. Nick loomed.
Katie on top Haystack
On top we spotted a herd of seven bighorns in the dump yard off the Scenic Point parking lot a couple of thousand feet below us.
We decided to go back to our car that way and the herd was still there feeding, along with a little one.
This was the second time this season I've climbed this small peak, but found it extremely enjoyable.  I don't tire of its six miles of scenery.
The aspen are particularly glorious in the Two Med country and now is the time to see them.
Meanwhile, the services in the park are buttoning up for the winter.
Everywhere, the lodgepoles have been erected to mark where roads are when the snow piles.
In East Glacier Park Sunday it was the last day for the Whistle Stop Cafe.  Terry Sherburne says he'll close his Mountain Pine motel in the next two weeks.  Jacobson's Cabins, where we stayed, will close Oct. 1.  The East Glacier Motel only opened a third of its rooms to guests, closing others for the season.
When we drove away from East Glacier Park, we both sighed, wishing the season wasn't ending.
Another good year.
The always beautiful Scenic Point Trail with the lake and Rising Wolf peak above it

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