©Bert Gildart: Considering all the years I have spent in and around Glacier, I’m sure there have been other days I’ve enjoyed in this magnificent northwestern Montana national park just as much as the one I enjoyed yesterday, but I honestly can’t remember when.
Yesterday I teamed up with Jim Andler, an old friend, and we departed Bigfork about 5 am, then made the two and a half hour drive to Babb, Montana. From there we drove along the Many Glacier Road to a barricade, meaning we had seven miles to cycle into the Many Glacier Hotel. Though the road has been plowed motorist are excluded while further spring maintenance continues. When weather is like it was yesterday that makes it one of the very best times to visit the park, particularly for the cyclist.
DAY OF PERFECTION
The day was perfectly clear and there was absolutely no wind. We began cycling about 7:30 and as the day warmed we could feel the coolness from the four- and five-foot-high snow banks that still lingered. The air was so pure that we could smell sap from trees that had been recently sawed and then removed by spring clean up crews. As we rode, we saw three moose and lots of elk and sheep tracks. Skies were dark blue and helped dramatize the snow-capped mountains.
CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE. L TO R: Grinnell Point reflecting in Swift Current Lake; Many Glacier Hotel.
Because we stopped often to take pictures, it took Jim and me about two hours to reach the hotel. For much of the way, Sherburne Lake flanked our left and it was still iced over. Soon we passed Grinnell Falls and then we arrived at Swift Current Lake, and though it was mostly frozen portions had opened near the shore. Because there was absolutely no wind, the reflections were near perfect and my bank account was happy that I was shooting digital rather than film.
The historic hotel flanks the Grinnell shore and much snow still remained piled along its sides. Newspaper tells us that current snow depth is 59 inches or – put in other words — Many Glacier is 500 percent above the 30 year average. That means melt waters could well flood the first floor of this historic hotel. As is, about one third of the hotel will be closed this summer for restoration. Flood waters may necessitate yet further closure.
Yesterday temperatures around Glacier approached the 70° and if the unusually warm weather continues, flooding in and around the park could be intense. The next few weeks will be crucial.
CLICK TO SEE LARGER IMAGE. L TO R: Moose along road into Many Glacier Hotel; Jim Andler cycling beneath mountains still shrouded with winter and spring snows; Grinnell Falls.
But yesterday, disaster was something that was difficult to envision. Jim and I ate lunch in the shadow of mountains with names such as Apikuni, Grinnell, and Angle Wing. As we sat, periodically we could hear booming sounds, and we watched as the melting snow released it heavy loads and then cascaded along the slopes of Grinnell Point. We departed about 2 pm and an hour later were back at the truck, assisted a bit by mountain breezes – making the day about as perfect as it can ever be.
THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:
ADS FROM GOOGLE AND AMAZON AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS: