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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Glacier National Park

By Aug 16th 2010 No Comments »

From Yellowstone we headed North through Big Sky Country to Glacier National Park – the state was aptly named the latter because of its wide-open terrain with seemingly never-ending views of blue skies and fluffy clouds – this slogan can be found imprinted on anything from bumper stickers to magnets to even lighters, and is something Montanans are very proud to display.

Big Sky Country hardly disappointed and the weather was perfectly fitting for the slogan.  We arrived at our campground in St. Mary just in time to watch the sun set on the Triple Divide Peak – a beautiful amber and orange sky just perfect enough to ease our travel-weary bodies.

After a great night’s sleep under an immeasurable amount of stars, we awoke, eager to set out and explore the park.  Our travels took us North to the Many Glacier Hotel which is only accessible by the Babb entrance on the eastern side of the park.  The Many Glacier Hotel was built during the Great Northern Railway’s chalet/hotel construction period between 1910 and 1915 as an effort to lure tourists to Glacier National Park – or the ‘American Alps’ as they liked to call it back then.

The hotel has a rustic Swiss chalet atmosphere.  A log interior building accented with white painted wood cut into Swiss jigsaw patterns along the balconies and window frames.  The hotel acted as a perfect departure point for our day’s hike into the American Alps.

As I am a sucker for glacial lakes (their turquoise and bright blue hues are just too photogenic), our day hike was destined for Grinnell Lake, the turquoise blue gem hidden amongst the tall pines and nestled beneath Grinnell Glacier.  The stunning hike partially circumnavigated Swiftcurrent Lake and took us through a thick forest of 400 year old spruce firs and laughably young lodgepole pines, to Josephine Lake and finally, Grinnell Lake.  The bright blue water shimmered in the sun and made one long for such a spectacular scene closer to home.  Determined to find an even better view, we backtracked about 1 mile to the Grinnell Glacier trailhead located on the southern tip of Josephine Lake.  We climbed about a mile and a half to an overlook which provided that perfect birds-eye-view that we had set out to find.

The sights were stunning and I find it hard to even do this verbal description justice.  I hope that some of the photos I have taken help to paint a far superior picture.

After returning to the car we headed further North to Waterton Lakes in Canada, just south of Alberta and home to the Prince of Wales Hotel – one of the most photographed hotels in the world.  From there we embarked on the Bears Hump Trail, a steep 2-mile roundtrip hike that provides supreme panoramic views of the Canadian park and is well worth the aggressive physical exertion.   From there we headed into Waterton Park Village – a small town with very few year round residents but plenty of deer roaming the streets waiting for food handouts.  The deer are so humanized that they are fearless in approaching people and you can even pet them – this to me is a sad consequence of human and animal interaction in our national parks, and for too many it is an amusement.

A quick drive south and a n even quicker stop at customs and we were back home at the campground. Night #2 was just as pleasant and the setting sun was an enjoyable nightcap after a long day of hiking.

The next morning we awoke early ready to tackle one of the most well-known and highly-travelled drives in America’s national parks – the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  The 50 mile drive cuts through the park and provides sweeping views of glaciers, waterfalls, river and lakes strewn throughout the land.

As we headed into the park we were surrounded by blue skies and sunshine; a pleasant way to start the morning.  As we continued beyond Sun Point we were met by thick fog and low-lying clouds, and as we climbed to the Continental Divide up to Logan Pass we were increasingly disappointed as our visibility dropped to about 20 feet.  Strike two for me.

While the Going-to-the-Sun Road was not so sunny, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Glacier National Park.  Its snow-capped peaks and turquoise blue lakes always tempted me from my desk while browsing other photographer’s Flickr photos during downtime at work – and being able to see the real thing was an amazing experience and incredible opportunity.    I look forward to exploring this park again and dedicating more time to hiking its massive glaciers, and even though those glaciers are quickly melting L, I am going to look on the bright side and stay positive knowing that this park is at the very top of my to-do (again) list.

 

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