©Bert Gildart: There could not have been a more perfect day for my daughter and son-in-law to make the 32-mile round-trip bike ride from the parking lot at Avalanche Campground to Logan Pass, an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. At this time of year, the road is open for bicycle riders and emergency vehicles only.
Though it was cool when we departed we quickly shed our windbreakers, then progressed along McDonald Creek. Almost immediately the Going-to-the-Sun Road began to climb, passing first through a tunnel, then to the West Side Loop where we took a few photos back dropped by majestic Heaven’s Peak, which I once climbed.
L to R: Departing from near Avalanche Campground the Going-to-the-Sun Road soon begins to climb; tunnel just above
Packer’s Roost and just below West Side Loop; West Side Loop back dropped by Heaven’s Peak.
From the Loop our ride passed dozens of water falls and the climb was demanding. We stopped at Bird Woman Overlook where we had lunch, then rested, we continued our ascent to Weeping Falls, which at this time of year was absolutely gushing with snowmelt. From there the grade only seemed to increase, and unfortunately both Angie and Will were experiencing great pain on their “undercarriages.” To reduce further injury both decided it would be prudent to turn around, agreeing that we’d reunite at the West Side Loop; unfortunate as they were so near the top. But anyone who has ridden the thin saddles associated with road bikes knows that it takes months of steady riding to generate the proper “callouses.”
Meanwhile, I continued the climb to Logan Pass.
An hour later I rode into the snow-cleared parking lot at Logan Pass. Leaning my bike against a towering snow bank I spent an hour or more photographing the incredible fields of snow still remaining. The Logan Pass Visitor Center was literally covered with snow and was certainly not yet ready to greet the summer hordes.
Though it took me several hours to ascend to Logan Pass, from there it was all downhill, which I enjoyed — coasting along at about 30 mph. That seemed like a sane speed, but apparently not everyone agreed. On the way up we’d almost collided with some downhill riders who must have been cruising at dangerous speeds, perhaps 45mph.
AND THAT MAY ACCOUNT FOR THE DAY’S SAD EXPERIENCE.
As Will and Angie approached the West Side Loop they encountered a small group gathered around a lady who had either crashed or been hit by as an out-of-control rider. Blood covered the road where she was laying and she was immobile.
L to R: Angie AND Will break for lunch back dropped by Bird Woman Falls.
Logan Pass Visitor Center engulfed by snow, and certainly not ready for hordes of visitors that will soon
so completely inundate the area
that parking will be impossible for any who don’t arrive at the crack of dawn.
Park ranger responded quickly. An emergency helicopter soon flew in and took her to the hospital. We have no idea what the outcome might have been.
Certainly that was a very unfortunate incident, but other than that our day was glorious, and we later agreed that this is the best way to experience the park. By July, hordes of visitors have massed, and when that happens, numbers are so many that in recent years there has been no parking at Logan Pass.
THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy