Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day weekend in Glacier

Take a pick of breath-taking scenery on Mother's Day weekend in Glacier.  Top:  Two Medicine Lake;  Middle: Katie and Lake McDonald;  Bottom, Upper Two Med Lake
We've done Mother's Day in Glacier before, but usually under wintry conditions.
This year, our three-day trip was spent in shirt-sleeves and we enjoyed mid-summer-like conditions with clear, cloudless skies.
On the west side of the park, the folks from the Flathead valley were out in droves Saturday.
The conditions on Going-to-Sun Highway in the Avalanche Creek area trailhead were so congested that people were parking more than a half-mile away to access the Avalanche Lake trail!
We took a quick look and decided for a more relaxing stroll along McDonald Creek.
We encountered several other hikers, who like us, were looking for Harlequin ducks.  We saw one from afar in the beaver ponds.  We walked as far as we could on the trail, until it petered out.  The map shows it clearly going another 1.5 miles further, but the traces of that trail are so overgrown that we gave up after about a quarter mile of bushwhacking.
Trillium in bloom
The water is running absolutely clear, an emerald color, and fairly high, making the various falls and the Sacred Dancing Waters sections of the creek well worth seeing.  The wildflowers on the west side are not as numerous or riotous as on the east side, although we did come across a patch of trillium flowers in bloom in one
We could see the traffic and crowds on the other side of the creek, making our decision to walk the trail rather than drive to the sights, even more rewarding.
We stayed in East Glacier Park, our favorite part of the park.  The campground at Two Medicine is only partially opened, but there were camping spaces available.  It was empty enough that we found a small band of bighorn sheep milling around one site.
The businesses in East Glacier are starting to open.  Brownies had just opened last week, and we enjoyed its baked goods and coffee.  We ate at Two Medicine Grill, with its hippy ambiance.  It has become pie central, replacing the St. Mary Park Cafe as the place to get great pies, and it has been discovered.  There were lines several of the days we went in for our snack.  We stayed at the Mountain Pine Motel and enjoyed a visit with owner Terry Sherburne, who is always full of information about the park.  Serrano's had opened May 2, and we ate there on Friday night, joining the crowd that lined up to get in for the 5 p.m. serving.
On Mother's Day, the Looking Glass Highway 49 opened to Kiowa Junction, and we drove to the top to enjoy the clear views of the Two Med Valley and Badger Two Medicine Country below us.
There really wasn't much snow to see on Rising Wolf, the biggest mountain in view.  This is worrisome for water supply and potential fire later this summer.
On Sunday, we went to Upper Two Medicine Lake, a round trip hike of about 10 miles.  I can't remember when we've ever been able to get this far into the interior of the park this early without snowshoes or skis.  We walked over several patches of snow when we reached the Twin Falls area and a large drift just before the lake.  However, the lake was clear of ice!
Along the trail we saw mountain goats on the side of Rising Wolf and plenty of moose tracks.
Out of curiosity, we hunted for and found the two cemeteries in East Glacier Park.
The public one sits on a hillside just north of town, overlooking the community with fantastic views of Glacier and Badger peaks.  It is in really rough shape and doesn't appear to be maintained, although there were signs of visitation.  The other is opposite the Mount Henry Trailhead just west of town.  It is also in bad shape.  Both cemeteries appear to be quite old, with graves there nearly 100 years old containing the settlement's pioneers and native peoples.
On McDonald Creek

Coming off drift in front of Upper Two Med Lake

Beaver pond below Mount Rockwell

Twin Falls

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