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Glacier National Park Trip, by Matt Gross
Day 1, Saturday
We left Dallas early for a largely uneventful flight, arriving in the small airport of Kalispell by afternoon.
After acquiring a nearly new Chevy Impala as our rental car, we went into Kalispell proper for lunch
before heading north to the park, a drive of little under an hour.
We arrived, and checking into our campsite (A33) at Fish Creek, we quickly pitched our tent. Weather
was in the low 50s, although it dipped substantially at night.
Since it was already getting dark, we took a quick hike around the Rocky Point Nature Trail, about a mile.
The night was cold, but dry.
Day 2, Sunday
Having driven by it earlier, we elected to hike up Lincolnís Lake Trail, which was listed as 1.7 miles.
Ominously omitted was the elevation, as the entire trip was at a tremendous grade. We made it close
to the summit before Jenís asthma sent her into a coughing spree and we had to turn back.
Exhausted, we had lunch over our camp burner and took a drive around the park to East Glacier. This
was necessitated by the central road through the park being closed due to a snow slide.
Driving to East Glacier took us across the Continental Divide and along some very narrow roads.
Montanians apparently donít feel the need to erect guardrails in most locations.
East Glacier was more in a valley than West, although it quickly lead into the mountains, including some
breath-taking lake views and ending at a view of one of the glaciers (buried in snow). A sign there
indicated that the park was expected to be glacier-free by 2030.
The trip back was largely sedate, save that Iíd never seen 85.5 octane gasoline before.
We had a pleasant dinner at the restaurant right before the park, then went to sleep.
Day 3, Monday
Although our sleeping bags had proved most comfortable, Jenís was apparently leaking down, making
our tent look like a duck exploded in there.
Jenís knee had been bothering her (she had badly bruised it prior to the trip) so we decided to try
something more sedate: The Trail of the Cedars.
This was an elevated walkway of about a mile that went by the beautiful Avalanche Gorge. As we were
at the closed part of the major road, we hiked up the closed (to vehicles) road for a ways, passing some
spectacular rapids and eventually a female moose and her calf coming down the road.
The weather had started to threaten showers, so we headed out of the park and took in some mini golf
at a local entertainment center.
It was a very nice course, with a ramp jump over water, a swinging pendulum, the whole assortment of
mini golf tricks.
Jen got two holes-in-one, but I still succeeded in winning, 57 to 60.
We headed back into the park and took a single-lane gravel road (including a curving one-lane wooden
bridge) up to the trailhead to Apgar Lookout.
Due to a disagreement about the map reading we parked about a mile down from the actual trailhead,
then hiked up.
The trail was wide and pleasant at first, but about halfway through decided it wanted to go straight up
the side of a mountain. We passed a couple coming down, who said it was beautiful at the topĀEnd got
a lot harder before that.
We decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed back.
Back at the campsite, we went out for some steak at the BBQ joint down the road, then started a fire
(with some difficulty) and made some símores.
Day 4, Tuesday
We had discussed visiting the town of Whitefish the previous day, as there is a brewery there, as well as
bike rentals. It was about a 45 minute drive, and the town itself was very pretty, it no doubt saw heavy
traffic during the ski season.
However, the state park there consisted of little more than camping and a boat ramp, thus, we shopped
around town a bit before heading back, hitting a Conoco for showers.
Returning to the park, we first went to the Fish Creek bike path, but while we found a black bear there,
we didnít find much of a path, so we went down to the Apgar Bike Path and walked it for several miles,
encountering both deer and a woodpecker.
For dinner we headed out of the park, and, told Jen to tell me when she saw someplace she wanted to
eat. 30 miles and 4 towns later, she settled on a Mexican place (which was actually pretty good) in
Columbia Falls. We picked up some more food and headed back to camp.
Before we went to sleep, I told Jen we would try the Avalanche Lake Trail tomorrow if the weather
Day 5, Wednesday
Weather cooperated wonderfully, giving us a sunny day and temps in the low 60s.
The night had been relatively warm too, so we arose and ate around 10 AM, and drove the 20 miles or
so to the Avalanche Lake trailhead.
From there it was 2 miles (one way) and a 500 ft climb in elevation. The trail was quite busy, and took
us a little under 4 hours there and back. The views were magnificent.
Our feet sore and with no immediate further plans, we stopped by Apgar camp for ice cream. Deciding
to go into town, we drove to Columbia Falls, and then, Kalispell where we stopped for a local newspaper
(the police blotter wasĀEomething else) and some coffee.
From there, we headed north to Whitefish, where we had some excellent pizza at the ďDowntown
PizzeriaĀEbefore heading over to the Black Star Draught House for a local brew. Either drinking and
driving or the weather appears to take quite the toll, we passed 41 memorial roadside crosses between
less than 30 miles from Glacier to Whitefish.
Day 6, Thursday
We awoke (relatively) early to go on a horseback ride from the McDonald lodge. We were joined by a
young family, and I rode a pleasant horse called Magnet, and Jen rode Deets.
The ride lasted a little over 2 hours, and went down by the river and rapids, an area weíd completely
missed from the road. Afterwards, we went into town for lunch and a shower.
We headed to a lake near Somers, south of Kalispell, which was very pretty, and had swimming and
fishing, but it was too cold for the former and I hadnít the gear for the latter.
After exploring a few side roads, and coming across a USDA test forest, we ate dinner at the restaurant
in front of the park.
We had a fair bit of daylight left, so we burnt the rest of our firewood and the remains of our picnic
table (the park rangers had just replaced it with a new one) and toasted marshmallows over the embers.
Day 7, Friday
We had picked this day earlier to revisit East Glacier, as we hadnít done any hiking over there. We drove
to Many Glacier, about two hours from our campsite to hike to Red Rock Falls.
The tree cover on the east side was far more sparse, and both of us got sunburnt, but the view was
wonderful, and we encountered moose and bighorn sheep on the way.
We headed down to St. Mary for lunch, and then on to Two Medicine in the south. The stretch of MT 89
near Two Medicine was harrowing, with winding cliffs without guardrails or shoulders. It certainly
would have been unpleasant in the dark or bad weather!
At Two Medicine we visited some rather pleasant (and accessible) falls, then went down to the lake. It
was there that we found all of the mosquitoes, as a swarm greeted us exiting the car.
We werenít able to find the other falls Iíd pointed out earlier as the trailhead wasnít very obviously
named, so we headed down to Paradise Point, which was not terribly aptly named, but which provided a
decent vantage point of the lake.
We headed back to Columbia Falls, Showered, revisited the Mexican restaurant from earlier, and dosed
our sunburns with oral application of ethanol.