Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

Hidden Lake and Inspiration Point Hike

It was our last day in the Tetons so we tried to make the best of it. As usual, we got a late start and then had to return to the campground not once but twice for things we forgot. We finally headed out to the Jenny Lake Visitor’s Center to catch the shuttle over the lake for the hikes.

We were planning to hike to Hidden Lake and then Inspiration Point, just a one-mile hike one way. Easy peasy. Right? Wrong! The hike to Hidden Lake was all uphill and though for the most part, the path was not difficult to walk the climbing was another story. We met a ranger who encouraged us to take it slow and take plenty of breaks because of the altitude. We were going to gain about 600 feet! The hike was nice. We had sun and shade and an occasional breeze which helped tremendously. We saw the turnoff for Inspiration Point but headed for the very lovely Hidden Falls. Situated near the mouth of Cascade Canyon, Hidden Falls drops roughly two hundred feet in a series of steps, thus easily making this the best waterfall hike in the park. As a result of its popularity, the waterfall is one of the most visited destinations in Grand Teton National Park.

When we got to Hidden Falls, we just sat by the falls enjoying the beauty and the sound of the rushing water plus we got to rest a little bit and catch our breath. Little did we know how much we would need it! After all, it was only a half-mile up. Right?

A pretty treacherous path
We began climbing along a very rocky and rugged trail stopping often to catch our breath and have some water. Near the Point, we passed over a short section with a fairly steep, narrow ledge. Of course, there were people going both ways but most of the time people would take turns on the more treacherous parts. It was however so worth the effort as we had an outstanding panoramic view of Jenny Lake, the second largest lake in the Tetons.

We made it!

The lake was named after a Shoshone Indian named Jenny Leigh who helped with the initial survey, the 1872 Hayden Survey. Another lake in the Tetons is named for her husband. As I researched Jenny Leigh, I learned that in 1876 Jenny and her six children all died of smallpox. What a sad ending for an outstanding woman.

The hike back to the shuttle was mercifully mostly downhill. We still had to stop for breaks but not as often. That was when I understood why the people we had met on our ascent had looked so ragged. I am sure we looked pretty ragged by then too. The shuttle ride back was blessedly cool.

After the return to shore, we headed for the car and hopefully a nice cool picnic area. I saw the sign for the Teton Village so told Jerry to turn there. I had not researched the village but I had read that it was a point of interest so off we went. We didn’t find any picnic areas so since it was after 2:00 Jerry just pulled off of the road and we did our usual, picnic lunch in the car. We rode right past the village and into Jackson Hole and did some light grocery shopping.

We returned to the campground for a little rest as we were both pretty exhausted from our hot, difficult but rewarding hike. A bit later we decided to ride out to Mormon Row. As we left the campground on Gros Ventre Road we saw a lot of cars pulled over and we all know what that means – an animal of some sort. It was a moose! I had been so disappointed that I had not seen a moose during our visit despite having been told that they were around. There he was, a huge bull moose. Of course, Jerry had left his good camera at the campground so we jumped in the car, rode back to the campground, returned to the sight of the moose and he was still there. He stayed until he was frightened by some guys entering the river to fish.

T. A. Moultan Barn
We continued on to Mormon Row. Mormon Row was a village started by members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints to sent out to establish new communities. They clustered their farms together to share labor and community which was in stark contrast with the isolation typical of most western homesteads. There are only a couple of houses there now and two barns which highlight Mormon Row. The T.A. Moulton Barn draws photographers from around the world to want to capture the barn with the majestic Tetons in the background.

Despite the fact that we only hiked a little over five miles total today we were pretty tired when we got back to the motor home. Jerry grilled pork chops and I prepared corn, peas and Mac and cheese knowing we’d have leftovers for dinner tomorrow night. Tomorrow morning will be an early start as we begin our trek back to North Carolina via Lawrenceville, Ga for some RV repair. It’s been a grand trip, more wonderful than I even anticipated but it is time to go home. The best part of every trip to me is returning home. It’s time to see our grands!!!!

Irrespective of hour or season, whether viewed on clear days or stormy, the Tetons are so surpassingly beautiful that one is likely to gaze silently upon them conscious of the futility of speech.

Fritiof Fryxell – 1958

Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

Taggart Lake Trail in the Tetons

Our hike this morning was Taggart Lake Trail which was off the Jenny Lake highway. It was a little more than three miles round trip and had sun and shade, ascent and descent, flat and rocky climb. All in all, a perfect hike. We ran into a young couple from Virginia on their way to San Francisco for graduate school and chatted with them for the last half mile. It made the hike go much faster and then suddenly we were at Taggart Lake. It’s a small lake but pretty with beautiful reflections in the water. We did see some small fish swimming around. It took us about 30 minutes to walk back to the parking lot.

We returned to the campground for lunch and then went into to Jackson Hole for me to get a haircut and boy did I get one! I told her I was going to let it grow out and just needed a trim and shape up. Glad I didn’t tell her I wanted it short but I did get a good cut.

Afterward, we walked around Jackson Hole looking at t-shirts. If you can’t find one you want it’s not because there aren’t enough stores in town. They are everywhere! We ended up at Starbucks where we did some computer catch up. Both of us needed to sort pictures. I had already downloaded the pictures from Jerry’s camera to my computer but I wanted to put them in my Google photos in case something happened to my computer. Backup! We spent a good while in there.

Later we went to the Chapel of Transfiguration. It is a lovely log church which still holds Sunday services in the summer. I do wish we could have been there for a service. There is a large picture window at the back of the altar that frames the Tetons just behind the cross. Everyone is invited in to pray.

We then walked over to the Mentor buildings but everything was closed so we didn’t get to enter in the buildings.

We returned to the campground for leftovers for dinner. Jerry didn’t sleep well last night so an early night was in store.

Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

A Day in the Grand Tetons

We slept in this morning. Since Jerry was not feeling well last night, I didn’t want to awaken him so he slept even later. We got a late start, almost 10:00. Heading to Coulter Bay where our first hike began was second on the list. First, Jerry wanted to find the overlook we had seen when we first entered the park. The view of the Tetons and their reflection on the water was a picture that couldn’t be described. We ran into the ever-present road construction but that didn’t slow us down too much as we headed back toward Yellowstone. Jerry wanted to get his pictures!

We finally found the turnoff – we think – and Jerry got his pictures. Again, the view was spectacular. On the way back we again were stopped for construction but it was a short delay. We headed on to Coulter Bay and made a stop at the general store first. It was a very nice store with groceries, gas, and then a gift shop on the other side. We ended up passing on the t-shirts but we did buy a fanny pack that would hold a water bottle and my phone. That will not be very pretty but it beats carrying a water bottle all of the time.

We decided to take the Lakeshore Trail which is a mostly flat trail that winds around Colter Bay. The views again are incredible. As we hiked along, we met someone who told us they had seen a bear and although we kept our eyes opened, we never saw one. We did sit on the shore of Swan Lake for a while. While sitting there a butterfly landed on my foot and stayed there long enough for us to get a picture. The water was not freezing but it was too cold for me to want to swim although there were others who did venture in.

After walking back to the Visitor’s Center, we got our lunch and found a picnic table in front of the center with a view of Colter Bay and the marina. There were some pretty nice boats out there all privately owned. It was the perfect place for a picnic and definitely the most perfect place we found to have lunch during the entire trip. Cool, shaded and peaceful.

After lunch, we walked back into the center and talked with a ranger about how to spend the rest of our day. Unfortunately, Signal Mountain is closed due to aggressive bear behavior. Apparently, someone had been feeding the bears and they were aggressive toward the rangers, thus the closure. We left the center and suddenly we were on the very picturesque road the ranger had suggested driving. We stopped at the Jackson Lake Dam and Reservoir. What power!

Our next stop was the Chapel of the Sacred Heart. The chapel, built entirely of logs was dedicated on August 15, 1937. It is a lovely church and they still have services on Sundays during the summer. Jerry decided not to stop anymore and take pictures and then there was another view that he couldn’t resist. The granite mountains are beautiful but the glaciers on top just seem to complete the lovely picture.

We then rode into Jackson trying to find someone to cut my hair. That is one busy little town! Traffic was terrible and of course, people were walking everywhere. We got a picture of the elkhorn arch and then headed back to the campground.

We had planned to have an early dinner and then go out animal watching or should I say animal looking. After dinner, we rode around for a while but we returned to the campground with our efforts in vain. Other than seeing a few bison here and there we haven’t seen any animals during our stay in the Tetons other than chipmunks which are abundant, almost like the prairie dogs in South Dakota.

Thankfully so far, we have had cool nights so one air conditioner has been sufficient. We’re a little worried about the trip home because we are headed to hotter and more humid weather. It has been cool and dry and we have been blessed with great weather these past seven weeks.

Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

Our Introducton to the Grand Tetons

Today was a travel day but we were still moving slowly after a marathon yesterday. We finally pulled out of the campground a little after 9:00 and then it took us almost 30 minutes to get into Yellowstone Park. As usual, we were in the “Gale” lane, the lane you never want to get in.

Traffic through the park was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated but we did have to slow down for two animal sightings. We don’t know what the first one was as we didn’t see anything, just a ranger urging traffic on. The second was just above the parking lot at Fairy Falls where we were earlier in the week. It was a grizzly! After we passed by Old Faithful traffic thinned out but the elevations didn’t. Kudos to Jerry for a terrific chauffeuring job and for our 40’ gasser who handled those “hills” wonderfully.

We arrived at Gros Ventre just after noon and thankfully got an electric site. Leveling was interesting but we finally got it livable and decided that we really wouldn’t be spending much waking time in the coach so perfectly level wasn’t something we had to have.

After lunch, we rode to the Visitor’s Center at Jenny Lake. It is an astounding center with bronze statues of animals and people vital to the development of the park displayed. We watched a very good video about the history of the park and then when the video ended the curtains opened to a beautiful expansive view of the amazing Tetons. I have never been to a national park that ended a video in that matter. Very impressive.

We took the Jenny Lake scenic drive which led us through a forested area. We were wondering exactly what was so scenic and then bam, there was Jenny Lake in all its splendor plus the Tetons in the distance. It was stunning, to say the least. As we got out of the car I noticed that despite the number of people it was so very quiet. There was such a serene and calming feeling. In fact, we saw two people stretched out on benches napping. The beauty of the mountains and the lake left us speechless, meditative, reflective, peaceful. One thing that makes the Tetons stand out is that there are no foothills. The mountains just go straight up.

After leaving the park we got some gas and then headed back to the campground. Jerry was not feeling well so a quiet evening was in store for us. We ended up taking a couple of walks around the park after dinner and then Jerry made some strawberry ice cream. The front AC/Heating Unit was on the blink but fortunately, it was cool enough to open the windows until the campfire smoke started drifting in through the windows. Luckily, the back unit was working fine so we had air conditioning this evening and will have heat tomorrow morning.

Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Last Day in Yellowstone

What an exciting morning. As our boys would say, we got up at 0 dark thirty and headed to Lamar Valley via Mammoth. We saw a few elk as we traveled along but little else during our hour ride to Mammoth. Leaving there we continued on to Lamar Valley through Tower-Roosevelt. As soon as we turned toward Lamar Valley at the Tower, we immediately saw a lone bison strolling down the highway. Our cars didn’t seem to bother him a bit as he passed very closely by our car. A little further on we saw another bison taking his morning stroll and then we began to see herds and herds of bison. Now we know where they all are!

As we journeyed on, we saw a crowd of people stopped at a bridge. Several had high magnification scopes so we stopped to see what was so interesting. According to everyone, it was three grizzlies eating on a carcass. We looked through the binoculars and the camera plus someone’s scope. I never saw a thing!

A little further on we saw another group of people stopped so we pulled over. One of the guys said they had been tracking a wolf all morning and they were expecting him to come by. Suddenly someone cried out “there he is” and he was on the other side of the road. I actually saw him loping along. Not only did I see him with the binoculars but also with my naked eye. He was really big!

We continued on down the highway marveling at the number of bison we were seeing. At one point we watched some that appeared to be running from something but we never saw any kind of predator. We finally turned around and bam, we were in our first bison jam and we were the first car. We patiently waited as they sauntered along. The biggest guy just stood in front of our car like he dared us to try to come through. We didn’t move! There were several young calves. Eventually, they moved on by and we were able to proceed. There were bison all up and down the road, some by themselves and some in herds, large and small.

As we rode along, we saw another group of cars pulled off of the side of the road so of course we stopped and jumped out to see what everyone was looking at. It was a bear! He was on the other side of the little stream sitting on the rocks eating. It was a black bear, not a grizzly and he had been tagged.

Next, we hit Mammoth again. We walked into the hotel, used the bathrooms and then went into the gift shop to get the pink cap I had looked at earlier in the week. A quick walk down to the General Store where we got a blueberry muffin. After all, we had been up five hours and it was time for a snack.

I had been looking forward to seeing all of the elk in Mammoth as we saw several on our earlier visit but they must have been still sleeping. We saw none. I had been dreading the drive leaving Mammoth headed to Norris because of the construction we had run into earlier this week. Apparently, the road construction comes to a halt on Saturday because they were not working today. Yea. That was an extra 30-40 minutes subtracted from our road time today.

We finally got to visit Artist Paintpots after two earlier attempts. We were both kind of dragging but we soldiered on. The hike was 1.6 and part boardwalk. The first stop was a boiling mudpot and a boiling spring. It was amazing to stand and watch the seismic activity imagining what lies beneath. We continued up to the overlook and the scene below did indeed look like an artist’s palette. Further up we came to a large mudpot and boy was the mud shooting up. Beware flying mud! It looked like one big muddy hole which I guess it was, only a lot hotter. I could just imagine children enjoying playing in that were it not for the depth and the heat. Within the Artist’s Paintpot were colorful hot springs, mudpots and small geysers. It seems there are geysers all over Yellowstone but we only hear about Old Faithful since it’s predictable.

We continued our trek through the park and decided today was the day to have our picnic along a flowing stream. We found a picnic area on a stream and luckily a free picnic table but when we got out, we realized that it was a little chilly and windy for a picnic on the water. Obviously, we had a quick lunch. One of our earlier plans had been to stop by a stream and put our feet in the water. In fact, I had put a towel in the car for that purpose. Well, it was just too cold to do it. Instead, we used the towel as a tablecloth.

We wanted to get a short visit to West Thumb Geyser Basin so that was our next stop. West Thumb is on the Yellowstone Lake and is the largest geyser basins on the shores of the lake. West Thumb is still thermally active and we saw hot springs, mudpots and geysers steam and percolate along the shore. In fact, one geyser was called Percolate. One of the more interesting features was Fishing Cone, a hot spring. Old tales talk of fishermen catching a trout in the lake and then swinging it around to the spring with the end result a boiled fish!

After the hike around the lake we decided to head on back to the campground. We were planning on one stop at Black Sand Basin. Black obsidian or “sand” gives the basin its name. The oranges, greens and other colors in and around the hot springs come from the thermophiles. The colors were so vibrant especially a bright yellow that we hadn’t seen anywhere else. As soon as we walked up the Cliff geyser erupted. What a sight to see.

The steam almost covered the geyser!
We were on the way back but decided we could drive to Firehole Lake Drive. We thought we were going to take a nice simple drive. How surprised we were when we realized that there were many cars and people lined up around a geyser. We snagged a parking place and walked over to see what was going on. We knew it wasn’t an animal despite the attraction. It was actually a geyser, The Great Fountain and they were expecting it to erupt any minute. A couple we talked with had been waiting for three hours. While we were waiting for the Great Fountain, we saw a smaller, yet still significant geyser, the White Dome erupt and then the Great Fountain began erupting. What a sight to see. It was amazing to see the water fill the area around the geyser plus we got sprinkled as we watched through the tremendous steam. It lasted several minutes.

What a wonderful way to end our time at Yellowstone National Park! We drug our tired selves back to the RV after a twelve-hour day. Tomorrow, the Tetons!

Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Hiking in the Canyon

We headed for the Canyon area this morning and our first stop was the Visitor’s Center. It was a very different center in that it seemed to focus on the volcanic activity more than the geysers. We did get to see the 9,000-pound globe that showed the hot spots in the world. Just by touching it you could move the globe in a different direction.

Our first stop was Lookout Point. We walked down to the observation point where we could have a clear, though distant view of the Upper Falls. They were so beautiful and powerful that against our better judgment we decided to take the Red Rock Trail. It descends about 600 feet and the path is a little rocky at times. But the end result was so worth it. What majesty and power we observed as the falls rushed down the mountain. We took a lot of breaks going back up and in spite of Jerry’s doubts, we made it.

Our next stop was the trailhead for Inspiration Point. Now, in all honesty, I must admit that if we had known that we could have driven just a little bit further and arrived at Inspiration Point we probably would have done that. Instead, we took the trail. After we’d walked just a short distance, I told Jerry it should be called Inspiration Points – with an “s” because there were several spots that had breathtaking views. We continued walking and entered into a forested area. I was feeling really assured because I knew that for once we had the bear spray. Wrong! Jerry had the holster for the bear spray but he had taken the spray out and forgotten to put it back in. Oh well, I just kept making noise. The bonus was smelling the wonderful firs along the way. It smelled just like Christmas.

We finally made it to Inspiration Point after a somewhat rocky path to the overlook. The views at Inspiration Point were indeed worth the hike. Again, we saw the majestic falls tumbling down to the viciously bubbling stream below. We then realized that some of the people we had seen on the trail were only hiking one way with someone in their party picking them up at the end. No such luck for us. We turned around and headed back to the car. Interestingly, neither of us thought the hike out was nearly as far plus it was a lot more pleasant. It took us about 30 minutes.

We returned to the Visitor’s Center and in lieu of a vacant picnic table, we had our lunch in the car – again! We rolled down the windows and there was a very nice cool breeze.

Since we were on a deadline to return to the campground, we decided to ride into Hayden Valley to see if we saw any animals. Suddenly we saw a great many cars parked but couldn’t determine what everyone was looking at. People had chairs set up and some had a long-distance lens. We parked and as we were getting out of the car someone asked if we wanted to know what we were looking for. Certainly, because it surely wasn’t obvious. It was a bear eating a dead bison! With the binoculars, I could barely make it out and only saw the rump of the bison and the bear’s head. It didn’t take too long to decide that we had seen enough.

That was the end of our touring for the day as we had dinner plans for the evening. Our older son Trent had arranged for us to have dinner at the posh Spanish Peaks Clubhouse in Big Sky. It was only 47 miles away but took longer than an hour due to some mountainous roads near Spanish Peaks. It is called “Peaks” for a reason. Our dinner was delicious. Jerry had an elk chop and I had a petit filet. We topped it off with a yummy dessert of flourless chocolate cake and ice cream cover with crunchies and caramel sauce. Wow, I was hoping that the button on my jeans didn’t fly off and hit someone across the room. After dinner, we walked out on the deck to look at the beautiful surrounding. Marring the view but still beautiful in its own right was a crane being used for building. It was boasting an American flag and a Montana flag. Both were floating gently in the wind.

We stopped for gas before we left Big Sky as it is less expensive than in west Yellowstone and we knew we’d be driving a lot tomorrow. The road back to West Yellowstone was desolate, to say the least. We met a few cars but saw none going our way. There was no cell service so if there was a problem we were on our own. Jerry spotted two deer on our way back and despite the warnings, we didn’t see any other wildlife.

Home Away From Home, National Park, Wyoming

Afternoon in Yellowstone

Plan A: Get up early and get on the road as quickly as possible as we will be going to the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park and traveling through the park to West Yellowstone. We had already been told that the crowds are immense and it would take a long time to get through. Plus, there could be animal jams so up early and on the way.

Plan B: the real plan. Sleep until almost 7:00, have coffee and breakfast, shower, dress, break camp, hook up car, stop for gas, leave Cody around 9:00. It really was around 8:30 when we pulled out of the campsite but we had to stop to attach the car and for gas and that took a long time. Jerry wanted to make sure we had a full tank so when the pump cut off at $89.00 he continued to put gas in until $124.00. We have a full tank! We don’t know how accessible gas will be nor how expensive it will be so trying to avoid running low.

As we traveled along passing by the Buffalo Bill Reservoir I was again impressed by the stunning beauty of the vivid blue sapphire calm waters set again the immense mountains. I can’t imagine living here and being able to see that splendor every day.

We arrived at the East Entrance at 10:00 and inched our way on, sometimes at the high speed of 21 mph. Jerry pulled off at several overlooks to let traffic pass by. We climbed to 8500 plus feet above sea level past Sylvan Pass before we started descending some. I’ve heard about the slow traffic in Yellowstone. Guess today it was us!

After we passed Lake Yellowstone which was breathtaking, we knew it would deserve a return visit so elected not to stop. Shortly afterward. we saw a sign indicating a rough road ahead for four miles. Indeed, it was a rough, dirt, partially traveled road with badly needed construction going on. Before long we were at Fishing Bridge and then Canyon Village. We had talked about stopping at the Visitor’s Center at Canyon Village but not knowing what was ahead we decided to go on to the campground.

I enjoyed the ride through the park but I can’t say the same for Jerry. As he had done every leg of this wonderful journey, he did a fantastic job of driving the coach. The traffic was heavy but not terrible and the road was winding but not terrible. Though it was a short drive it was very tiring for him.

We arrived at Yellowstone Grizzly just before 1:00. Check-in was easy and efficient with three ladies handling the deluge of people checking in. Getting to our site was another deal though. We detached the car at the staging area and Jerry told me to lead him to the site. I couldn’t find it! We both got out of our vehicles and tried to find someone to ask but didn’t see anyone. To make a long story short, Jerry figured it out. I traced the map all the way through Yellowstone but couldn’t read the campground map. ☹

After we set up we had some lunch and then tried to decide what to do for the afternoon. Finally, I suggested the Visitor’s Center. While there we sort of mapped out our plan for the next four days by dividing the park into quadrants and doing one quadrant a day.

We did ride on into the park today though. Our first stop was at an elk sighting. There was one and he was pretty far away so we didn’t linger too long.

Our next stop was Terrace Spring, a small grouping of thermal features just off the Norris/Madison road. We took a short boardwalk trail around to the spring where the steam was rising and the stream was bubbling. We saw some fluorescent spots in the water.

Our next stop was at Gibbon Fall. We went to both the upper falls overlook and the lower falls overlook. Gibbon Falls is the spot where the Gibbon River flows 84 feet over the erosion-resistant rock of the giant caldera rim. A paved trail guides you high above the banks of the Gibbon River giving you great views of the falls. You could easily see the grooves in the rocks where the dynamite had been put to create the retaining wall.

Our next stop was Beryl Spring. Oh, my goodness. Never having seen a geyser before I was totally amazed. The water in this thermal feature is extremely hot, with temperatures being above the boiling point. There were signs in several places warning about the hot water. The thick white cloud of steam varied with the wind but as it blew towards us we could definitely feel the heat.

We decided we would make one more stop at Artists Paintpots but were never able to find a parking place so we left it for another day. As we returned to the spot of the earlier elk sighting, we realized that there were several elk out there. You can always tell by the number of cars around! There was a cow with a couple of babies but no bulls around.

On the way back we ventured off on the Riverside Road which is a road that runs next to a stream for fly fishing. That’s all!

Back at the campground for a nice cool 70-degree evening.

Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Hidden Lake Trail

Well, believe or not we got up and out before 7:00 this morning. We knew we had to get to Logan Pass early to snag a parking place and we were right. We arrived a bit after 7:30 and only got a place because someone was pulling out.

We decided to do the Hidden Lake Lookout trail and then decide if we wanted to do more. Since it was 44 degrees when we got up this morning I dressed for the weather – long pants, long-sleeved tee plus a coat. Jerry had on shorts and a shirt. Guess who was dressed for the weather?

The mile and a half hike to the overlook was a little warm in the direct sun and with no breeze, I was wondering if we’d make it. Shortly after we got started, we saw four longhorn sheep. They just grazed as though we were not there, only occasionally glancing our way. Although there were no benches there were occasional rocks where we could rest and catch our breath. We finally decided it was not the altitude causing us problems as we have acclimated fairly well. It’s the uphill climb that gets us.

About halfway up though we began to feel a slight breeze and that helped cool things down some. We saw a couple of marmots and a squirrel or two. We don’t have marmots at home so that was a treat for us.

The overlook is indeed an overlook looking into the valley as the mountains rise in the background. There are many wildflowers speckled around with lone trees standing sentinel. All in all, it was a very beautiful sight and well worth the hike.

As we descended (yes!) on the return trip to the Visitor’s Center the path was much more crowded. There were many families, some with very young children. I don’t know how they did it!

On our way back to the campground so I could change into cooler clothes, we saw cars parked on the side of the road. Obviously an animal alert. We couldn’t park so we passed by, turned around, passed by again, turned around and then found a spot. It was a big grizzly bear across the road probably a hundred and fifty yards from us so we were safe. He stayed down on all fours as he was grazing but we could definitely tell it was a grizzly.

After changing clothes, we headed back to Many Glacier and guess what the first thing we saw was. Of course – cattle in the road. They let us pass without moving an inch. We followed the bubbling stream as far as we could go occasionally sharing the road with the cattle and trying to dodge the potholes in the road. That was not easy!

It turned cold!
With signs indicating that the parking lots were full, we decided to pull off of the road beside the beautiful Lake Sherburne. I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to have lunch. The wind was blowing and we could see the white caps and hear the waves tumbling to the shore. After we ate, we walked down to the shoreline over rocks – exquisite. With the wind blowing it was now much cooler. Why did I change clothes? How grateful we are to be able to enjoy God’s creation and if this part of the earth is this beautiful can you imagine what heaven will be like?

What a wonderful place for a picnic.

We went on up to the Park Check-in only to find out from a ranger that Many Glacier was full and there was no parking at all even for people with reservations. We returned to the RV disappointed but so glad we got to go yesterday.

This morning was early for us so we both collapsed and very quickly fell asleep! Naps are good!

After our naps we started doing preliminary Tasks for breakdown tomorrow. Jerry tried valiantly to clean the windshield and the front of the coach. It’s a tireless job and perhaps fruitless. With such low humidity the water, i.e soap dries almost before you can remove it ending up with streaks and water spots.

We met Pam and Brian at Johnson’s for dinner. It was delicious. As we were walking in someone mentioned that the soup was delicious. What kind of soup? On the FAQ on the menu, it just said “good soup”. We found out that it was vegetable and beef and came with every entré. I’m a little picky about my vegetable soup but this was indeed delicious. We thought about buying some to take with us but elected not to. Mistake!

I have been reading some books where the characters talk about how good walleye is. Never having had walleye I decided that would be my entré and now I know why they write about it. It is good!

After dinner, the four of us rode to Two Dog Flat where we had been told we could see Elk and Bear at dusk. No bear tonight but we did see elk. A gentleman Jerry had talked to at the restaurant was parked next to us and he had his iPhone connected to some type of magnification spotting scope so we got a good look at the elk while they grazed and then wandered away.

Our time at Glacier National Park has come to an end as we are leaving in the morning. It goes without saying that it is an absolutely beautiful park and I wish we could have stayed longer. We saw a lot but there was so much more to see. We didn’t see a lot of animals, in contrast to Custer State Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park but we did get glimpses of deer, one grizzly bear, elk, marmots, and squirrels. I’m quite sure we’ll see more wildlife sightings as we continue our journey.

We made it!
Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Two National Parks in One Day

Today was our day to visit Canada so off we went to Waterton National Park. Although we have loved Glacier National Park Jerry remarked that there were no animals. I had seen one squirrel and I think he had seen three. As we rode along suddenly our dearth of animal sightings was ended and what did we see? A cow, and then another cow who bellowed at us as though we were in the wrong place – she was standing in the middle of the road – and then a herd of cows. They were all tagged and various breeds.

The drive to Waterton on the America side is lined with trees so views, for the most part, were hidden. Occasionally we would see mountain topped glaciers ahead of us.

We crossed into Canada via the Chief Mountain International Highway with no problem, just the usual questions about alcohol, weapons, where we were going and how long we were staying. The gentleman wished us a good day and on we went.

We rode on to Waterton and saw some of the prettiest mountains I have ever seen. The view was spectacular, the glaciers more prominent than on the American side. Once we got into Waterton lake there was a lake right on the side and the reflection of the mountains was lovely. Jerry tried to get a picture of that but reflections are difficult to photograph.

We entered the park and went straight to the Visitor’s Center. OK, we wandered around a bit before we found it. We got some information and some maps but quite frankly though the young lady spoke English she talked faster than my brain could process. As we walked out Jerry said he hoped I understood her because he got nothing. We got back in the car and by this time Jerry started feeling weak with a sugar drop. We were lucky to find a parking place in the village and finally found him some orange juice and a bar which made him feel somewhat better.

We headed to Bertha Falls and started on a 2-mile hike to Lower Bertha Falls but Jerry realized that he just couldn’t do it so we returned to the car. He ate some M & M’s and as he was still feeling shaky we found a parking place in a shaded picnic area and had our lunch.

We rode back to the Cameron Falls which demanded no walking at all. They were quite pretty and soothing.

Jerry began to feel better so we headed into the village of Waterton and wandered around. We made a couple of purchases and then made someone’s day when we gave them our parking place.

Our final stop in Waterton National Park was the Prince of Wales Hotel. Since we had already eaten, we didn’t take advantage of the restaurant and it was too early for tea so we sauntered through the gift shop and then made someone else’s day by giving them a parking spot.

Waterton is a pretty village with hanging baskets on many of the shops, plenty of gift shops and restaurants and on a Sunday afternoon in August, lots of people. As we were leaving the park around 2:00 there was a long line of traffic trying to enter the park. There are a couple of lakes and beaches within the park and they were quite busy. Parking was at a premium with many cars circling blocks just waiting for someone to pull out so they could quickly slide in. No one was showing any polite manners, just grabbing a parking spot!

Re-entry to the United States was very simple. They just asked how long we’d been in Canada, where we were going and if made any purchases. Then with a “welcome home”, they sent us on and we entered back into treelined forest. We did see a Watch for Cattle sign and wondered if there were free-roaming cattle on the highway. We did see more cattle as we headed back to St. Mary.

Since we went right by the entrance to Many Glacier we decided to go there. The approach to Many Glacier is possibly the most spectacular, most beautiful sight I have ever seen. The turquoise water of Sherburne Lake with the glacier topped mountains were absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Of course, we got a few pics.

We continued up the “rough road ahead” and finally reached Many Glacier Hotel. We rode around the parking lots but as has been our lot this week the lots were full. Just as we were leaving someone pulled out and we snagged a space. We walked around a bit over the bridge and then climbed some of the boulders there. Amazingly we looked down and here came three mountain goats crossing the bridge and headed for the high lands. What a sight.

Ready with the bear spray!
Since Jerry was feeling better, we decided to take the Swiftcurrent Lake Trail. It was a 2.6 loop trail along a lot of vegetation. At times we were so surrounded by fir trees that I could image the days of Christmas coming. Several times we got a sniff of “Christmas”.

We returned to St Mary where we had to get gas for the car. Thank goodness it was for the car and not the RV. Gas was $3.49 and they were the only game in town!

Headed back to the campground and a restful evening as we are planning to be up early in the morning to hit Logan Pass.

Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Going to the Sun Road

We have gotten up every morning and pushed for three weeks so last night Jerry told me not to wake him this morning. He was going to sleep in no matter what we needed to do. Yeah, right, he was up by 7:00. He suggested we skip out usual breakfast and go over to the KOA pavilion for pancakes so we did. They were really good and a nice change.

Back at the coach we showered, dressed and were soon on the road to the park. We decided to just ride the Going to the Sun Road today and stop whenever we wanted to. We wanted to stop at Logan Pass for a hike but we were afraid we were probably too late to get a parking place. As we got to the park, we got the usual picture with the National Park sign, got the newspaper and then stopped at the first overlook only to discover that there was no chip in Jerry’s camera. I had downloaded yesterday’s pictures earlier this morning and had forgotten to put the chip back in. Plus, we had forgotten the bear spray and we thought we definitely needed that so back to the motor home we went.

Gathering what we had earlier left behind we started again. The park was already quite a bit busier. We stopped at an overlook for a pic then continued on to Goose Island Viewpoint. Oh, how very beautiful. Jerry discovered another setting on his camera that allowed him to take a picture that seemed to define the depth of the glaciers. Hopefully, that will work because our normal pictures defy the surrounding beauty.

We stopped at still another and the glaciers are beautiful but the dead pine trees from an earlier fire cast a pall over the view. We stopped at Jackson Glacier Overlook where we learned that the fire started possibly by human hand on July 21, 2015, just four years ago yet the evidence of burned trees is still very obvious.

We stopped again, took some more pics of the faraway glaciers and then I turned around and looked across the road. Wow, just wow. We were right next to the foot of a mountain and it was most impressive. We need to remember to look at both sides of the road. I took a picture but again the dept was not apparent.

We rode through the parking lot at Logan Pass but we were indeed too late as every parking space was filled and there were many cars slowly driving around looking for a spot.

We continued on the Going to the Sun Road entering onto the curvy, narrow road that leads to West Glacier. I can see why they limit the size of vehicles traveling the road. The views are all so mesmerizing, so captivating, so indescribable, so amazing, so different and varying as the sun and shadows move through the skyline. Green growth, wildflowers of various colors juxtaposed with glaciers, some close enough to touch. At this point everywhere we looked it was green, no fire this far. 59 degrees and breezy so a pretty cool morning. We passed by the Weeping Wall but could not stop for a picture. By this time, 11:30, traffic was steady and heavy.

Our next glorious view was the Bird Woman Falls. We stopped at an overlook that looked over the vast expanse of forest and there among the growth tumbling down the mountains was Bird Woman Falls.

Continuing on we came to Lake MacDonald. What a beautiful area where the Lake MacDonald Lodge is located. There was also a picnic area where we had our picnic lunch.

A little bit further up we stopped and walked down to the lake. Jerry took off his shoes and stuck his toes in. I had stuck my finger in and surprisingly enough it was not that cold.

We rode on to Apgar Visitor’s Center where we heard an interesting talk by a ranger on the animals in the park. She even demonstrated how to use bear spray should the need ever arise. We actually learned a lot from her brief talk.

Turning around we headed back toward the Eastside to catch some other things we had bypassed on the way in. Parking is at a premium at many of the overlooks making it difficult to stop everywhere we wanted to.

But our first stop on the return was so much fun. We snagged a parking spot at Sacred Dancing Cascade after three passes by. A short trail led down to a bubbling creek with a bridge and strewn rocks, big and small. Of course, I had to scamper over some rocks. Jerry quickly found a seat, pulled off his shoes and socks and stuck his feet in the 40-degree water. After some urging, I did the same and I must admit it felt good! Sort of like a hot tub except cold swirling waters instead.

We wanted to stop at Avalanche Lake but there was no parking so we went just a bit further, found a space and were able to hike the Trail of the Cedars. The trail was one of the first accessible trails completed by the National Park Service. The majority of it is a wooden walkway so it was not difficult and only .9 miles. A lot of it was shaded too. We saw some huge trees, possibly the oldest trees in the park.

We made a few more stops, one so Jerry could get a picture of the stunning Heaven‘s Peak and then one so he could actually walk up and touch a glacier, one of two that we passed that were touchable if you were willing to cross a busy road, make a few steps on crumbling rocks, gravel and dirt to touch it. I didn’t! One fall was enough for me.

Our last stop was Logan Pass where we easily got a parking spot. By the time, it was after 5:00 so the parking lot was emptying. We went into the Visitor’s Center and then walked around the gardens. After deciding that it was too late to take a hike we walked over to the Continental Divide, had our picture taken and then headed back to the car.

We finally got back to the campground around 6:30, a little tired but having had a wonderful day wandering around Glacier National Park.