Friday, September 6, 2013

Chillin' Out In Glacier National Park

Sep 6, 2013

Note: To see the rest of my Glacier National Park photos, click HERE.
also note, that you can click on any photo below to see it larger.

We left the lovely town of Missoula on Wednesday morning and headed north up towards Glacier National Park. But first we stopped to pick up sandwiches for a picnic enroute at a highly-recommended Italian deli: Tagliare.

Missoulian sandwich shop, Tagliare. Super!
We took I-90 for five miles out of town and then left it for U.S. Route 93 North. This took us through the Mission Valley with stunning view of the Mission Mountain range to the east. A sign explained that as late as 1910 the valley was almost entirely "virgin prairie, unplowed, unfenced and beautiful to see." Well, it was certainly still beautiful and still wide open spaces. But I felt a sense of wonderment that the land around us was not that far removed from the days when bison roamed these grasslands free and unimpeded and the native people subsisted off, and in harmony with, the land and its creatures. I love the idea of being able to touch history and here it felt like you were.

The magnificent Mission Mountain range. 

It was here that we got our first sight of the wild fires that are ravishing the west this year. Wisps of smoke were visible and a local told us that they were unable to land fire fighters because the fire was on a knife edge of the mountain that was too hazardous to get to. The hope was that rain would put it out or that it would burn its way uphill and run out of fuel, in this case trees. If bad luck prevailed though, it would run downhill and "there are houses there and ... " Her voice trailed off before completing the sentence.

As we got closer to Glacier National Park we stopped in a small town on its southern end and I picked up an Americano at one of the many espresso shacks that are so popular out here, probably coming east from nearby Washington, coffee capitol of the country. They are everywhere on the roads that we traveled. I'm thinking that espresso was probably unknown in these parts ten years ago but now these little roadside kiosks are ubiquitous. And, good news, they all seem to be local enterprises and the coffee was great!

We saw dozens of these little espresso shacks. Each one is decorated by its owner in a
 bright and lively design.  Cute and very good coffee too!

Driving on, we came to Flathead Lake, an enormous body of pristine water, along whose eastern shore we drove as we approached the park. It was here, in Yellow Bay State Park that we stopped to enjoy our picnic as we looked out at the beautiful lake.

A picnic lunch on Yellow Bay - Flathead Lake.
After lunch we drove a bit more and reached the entrance to the park. The road took along McDonald Lake, the largest lake in the park. At the northern end of that beautiful body of water stood one of those old, rustic and magnificent mountain lodges. We decided to check it out and entering decided that this would be a nice place to spend a few days - a comfortable and cozy headquarters for day hikes or boating.
McDonald Lodge. It's perched on a pristine lake and
surrounded by towering mountains. Rutic - inside and out
Stacey at the entrance to Glacier.
Beautiful McDonald Lodge, perched on the northern end of the lake of the same name.
Now the road was climbing higher and higher, clinging precariously to the side of the mountains, an amazing engineering feat. The views, as we turned each curvy switchback, awesome. We were headed to Logan Pass in the middle of the park. Snow was packed in crevasses at the higher elevations. Waterfalls came pouring down ravines that the water had carved over time - some spurted out from the side of a moutain and free fell hundreds of feet down into the valley far below. Truly breathtaking.

The road is carved into the edge of the mountain - driving is a little daunting
but the views -- awesome and breathtaking.

Looking out at from where we came. 
Reaching Logan Pass we turned back. We had a several hour ride to reach our hotel in Kalispel, Montana. From there we would drive into and across the Idaho Panhandle and stop in Spokane, Washington, our last night out before reaching Poulsbo and Dani and Erik's new home.

But more on that in my very last post. Stay tuned. Ciao, baby!  - Matt

To see the rest of my Glacier National Park photos, click HERE.