Montana countryside stunned us. Again!
We discovered in the Dakotas that Montana has nothing on them when it comes to “big sky,” but the amazing, jagged horizon that looms ever in the distance gives Montana its own special profile. A flatlander through and through, I couldn’t stop staring at the mountains that surrounded us and would be our companions for months.
With ten years since our last visit to Glacier National Park (where did the time go!?!?), we zipped into the park as soon as we could, stopping at the Apgar Visitor Center and strolling along the shores of Lake McDonald.
It was stunning — and much, much more crowded than when we’d been here in 1999.
The next day we headed out along the Avalanche Lake Trail and were amazed at the number of hikers along the trail. In ten years it seemed that the number of visitors had multiplied — not by ten — but by 100. Even so, the deer that haunted the trail weren’t spooked enough to keep much of a distance, and we passed several (or they passed us) as we made our way to Avalanche Lake and back.
It’s hard not to compare every experience with “the way it was last time” and this hike was no exception. Last time, it rained. This time, it threatened rain, and as we hiked out we walked through sections where it had obviously poured before we got there. Lucky for us!
We loved the hike, but prefer to experience the woods in more solitude, so we thought we’d head out for Hidden Lake a few days later for our second hike. The trailhead, from Logan Pass, was just past half-way along the Going to the Sun Road.
Unfortunately, in continuous efforts to improve the park, that one road through Glacier was under construction, causing delays…
The Hidden Lake Trail was also more crowded than we expected — though most people only went as far as the overlook, many made the hike all the way to the lake. The views were gorgeous and unforgettable, with mountain goats and marmots galore along the way.
The lake was swarming with trout, and Bob contemplated coming back with his fishing pole.
And as we left the park, we were gifted with the sight of this long-horned sheep…
…and then another, next to the road:
Though park literature said construction delays would be limited to 15 minutes, traffic was stopped at least twice, maybe three times, and it took us 90 minutes to travel just 26 miles. Ikes!
So, as much as we love Glacier NP, and as much as we were looking forward to hiking other trails and getting to the eastern side of the park, the traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) made the experience more stressful than enjoyable. Instead, we explored Hungry Horse by bicycle, and ventured into nearby (and not so nearby) villages and towns.