Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting away from rain on Glacier's west side

Kintla Lake

Bowman Lake

Lake McDonald
We're getting the moisture we so badly need.
So, it's been hit and miss for outdoors trips.
In the past couple of weeks I've been to Continental Divide Trail near Rogers Pass twice, had a wet trip in the Ford Creek Plateau and spent a couple of gorgeous days in the Polebridge area near Glacier Park's northwest side.
Both CDT trips were wet as well, but satisfying in that the alpine wildflower show was still remarkable.  The fragrant Forget-Me-Not blue flowers carpet the divide.  They are about three weeks ahead of schedule and I'd recommend anyone reading this to see them now as I think they are at their peak between Rogers Pass and Cadotte Pass.
Katie on CDT near Rogers Pass
We stayed at the North Fork Hostel in Polebridge, an eclectic collection of shelters, ranging from thrown-up single room huts to old travel trailers with roofs over them.  Everything is clean and comfortable and the main lodge is warmly overseen by Oliver Meister, who also doubles as a Glacier Park Ranger at the Polebridge entrance.  The hub of Polebridge is the Mercantile, with a bakery renowned for its huckleberry bear claw pastries and even its savory treats.  We ate at the Northern Lights Saloon and Cafe, where the food is deliciously prepared.  The cafe and Merc are staffed by friendly folks from all over the country.
This is floating season and the North Fork Flathead is high and muddy and the rafts are out in droves.
We were surprised to see how dry and dusty the North Fork country is already.
Yes, there's been some moisture, but this part of Glacier is much drier than the east side.  It rained on the east side, while we were dry and toasty (in the 70s) on the west side.
There was no snow on most of the lower ridge lines.
Katie had a couple of short day hikes planned ---- both to lovely meadows just inside the park's Polebridge border;  Hidden Meadow and Covey Meadow.
The Livingston Mountain Range is a powerful sight on this side of the park.  There's still some snow on the high peaks, like Kintla.
One evening we took the North Fork Inner Road in the park to Kintla Lake, a 14 mile drive that took an hour over a rocky, dusty road.  Don't do this unless you want to rattle your car.
The next morning we hiked the Bowman Lake trail to near the head of the lake, a most pleasant and relatively flat hike.
On the way out of the park, we stopped at Lake McDonald and then ate a great meal at the Belton restaurant in West Glacier.
Part of the Livingston Mountain Range on the Glacier West Side

Katie in front of our cabin at the North Fork Hostel

North Fork Flathead bridge at Polebridge

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