Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Glacier National Park

We had a long-ish travel day yesterday but a pretty easy one all things considered. Taking a route through se veral National Forests may have slowed things down a bit but certainly made for a prettier drive. We even got to discover a fine little coffee/bakery plus pottery crafts shop in Four Corners, MT where we had a thoroughly enjoyable late-morning snack. We found our way to Kalispel in due time and our initial impressions of this sprawling town are that it is much less interesting than say West Yellowstone. But that is probably unfair and owes something to the fact that you need to drive everywhere

The weather today was a little on the iffy side. It was cooler, in the mid to upper 50s, and rained on and off all day. While we hiked under the rich forests of hemlock, cedar, and numerous other trees we were pretty well sheltered from the rain. The first three photos here are from our second somewhat longer hike to Avalanche Lake. It is a hike of about 2.6 miles (one way) from the parking lot by the main road. You gain several hundred feet of elevation and end the hike at the stunning lake you see here. You can also see that the weather has caused us to put our complete wardrobe to good use.

The morning hike took us around Johns Lake through hemlock forests that have something of a fairyland aspect to them under the showering sky. The licheon that are clinging to everything certainly add to that feeling.


Snyder Lake is about 4.4 miles north-northeast of Lake McDonald lodge from the Sperry Trailhead and some 2,150 feet higher in elevation. It is a good hike and once past the toughest piece which is at the start not that tough. Even the tough bit which quickly ascended about 1,000 feet in about 1.6 miles on wide steep switchbacks isn't really too wretched if taken at a slow steady pace. You start climbing through forest and all the time the sound of rushing waters of Snyder Creek rumble in the background. When you begin heading mostly east you gently ascend along a narrow trail which is rife with what are surely seasonal streams making the trail a sometimes muddy mess. It really is a nice trail. Wildflowers abound from what I think were small yellow glacier lilies and little white and violet flowers mixed amongst bunches of cow parsnip and bear grass which in shape reminds me a bit of how yucca grow though the leaves are, obviously, quite different. As we neared the lake we crossed a scree field. I wish I had a photo to share of the pikas that were making their homes here. We heard them pipe up now and then announcing that they knew we were here. I do, however, have a photo showing the extent of the snow field we had to cross. I expect it was pushing three feet deep in places - I slipped to my thigh in one hole. Snyder Lake itself was nice enough though I think the vista surrounding Avalanche Lake was a bit better.


Our last day in Glacier National Park was going to be an easy day of gentle and sort day hikes. The weather remained bright and even warmer then the day before when we visited Snyder Lake. We decided to return to the Trail of the Cedars to get a proper sense of the forest there. The cedar trees are impressive. They are quite tall and with their scaled bark with long vertical striations look even more majestic. They lack the stupendous girth of a Sequoia but it is not hard to see why people might consider this place sacred. Thee raging blue-tinged waters of Avalanche Creek are shown in the first two photoos. The first facing upstream and the second downstream with much more sunn glinting off the forest and water (which is actually a bit more green than blue) We made a few stops along McDonald Creek heading down to Apgar Village and you can see the effects of the glacial four coloring that water green too (what happens when the glaciers melt - will glacial flour vanish and lakes and streams become less colorful?). We walked the Rocky Point Nature Trail Loop which is a nice trail but if you are expecting a path with interpretive signs and a path anyone can walk with absolutely no trouble you'll be a bit surprised as some modest hills exist (but little kids were walking it with their adult leaders). Wildflowers were in great abundance along this path; even more than we found along the upper reaches of the trail to Snyder Lake. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that in 2003 the region was part of the Roberts forest fire. You can see some of the results of that fire in the last photo We also spent time on a boat tour, riding the DiSMET (think that is right) which is an 82 year old boat plying the waters of Lake McDonald. The water looks even morre green than the photo suggests. Perhaps it is better to say it is a bit lighter in sshade - more turquoise. The views of the mountains fringed with snow mixed with tthe shoreline coated with both burned and unburned trees was quite nice.

Photos 1-4 are our first day at Glacier.

Photos 5-7: The area around Snyder Lake.

Photos 8-12: Avalanche Creek, along Rocky Point Trail in the region of the Roberts forest fire gazing out across the southern end of Lake McDonald, a view from the turquoise or maybe light emerald colored Lake McDonald.

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