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Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

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Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:46 am

In late August we embarked on the next to the last vacation before Kathy was to retire in May of 2013. Her “Bucket List” includes visiting and staying in the “Great Lodges” of the west. This trip added Lake McDonald, Many Glaciers, and Prince of Wales lodges to places checked off. Clearly we did not “rough it much on this trip” but except for the incredible sunsets and sunrises and sturgeon dinner at Many Glaciers Lodge the highlights of the trip were the days spent “on the trail.”

We spent 4 1/2 leisurely days traveling from Bend to Glacier, accommodations ranging from embarrassingly luxurious to downright spartan. Our route was a last minute audible due to the fires burning in Idaho and western Montana. Rather than heading e to Boise (visiting grandkids) then heading thru the smoke inundated mountains of Idaho we headed ne thru se Washington and nw Idaho. Enroute we visited wineries, brewpubs, old hardware stores in small towns and just plain sightseeing.
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Kootenai River Suspension Bridge


Early day 5 we entered Glacier after dinner at a mediocre brewpub and spending the night in a dive motel in Whitefish the previous evening.
glacier map.jpg
Map of Glacier that covers first 7 1/2 days in the Parks


First thing we tried to do is bag a lakeside room at the Village Inn at Apgar, hoping for a cancellation. Didn’t happen so we were doomed to spend our first night in a tiny room in the Lake McDonald Motor Lodge where I ended up sleeping on the floor because the bed was too small for the two of us! This first day was spent sightseeing around the lake.
01 lake MacDonald.jpg
Lake McDonald


To be continued

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby rlown » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:05 am

Nice so far. Surprised Kathy wasn't sleeping on the floor. So, Kudos to her!

Did you fill your pan with water to see if the floor was level? :D sorry, couldn't resist.
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:09 am

Days 2 and 3 in Glacier

The next 3 days were truly remarkable. Up early and after a big breakfast we walked across the parking lot and hit the trail. A little over 6 miles and over 3000 feet of vertical climb earned us a 3 night stay at Sperry Chalet which is really a complex of 5 major structures--a kitchen/dinning hall, the million dollar outhouse/washroom, the Dorm, and two structures for NPS staff.
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Helicopter with bucket heading to Fire. Helicopters were frequently present while in the park, mostly sightseeing tours
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First view of "Chalet"
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On the trail
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Layout of chalet complex, Million dollar outhouse obscured by large tree in foreground

After cleaning up a bit it was time for happy hour.
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Happy Hour
Then Dinner.
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Dining Hall
Eventually it was time to go to bed. A “Quaint” feature of the dorm is the warning to be really careful with water as the floors are not water tight so if you are on the second floor a spill might drip on the occupants below! Nor are the walls particularly sound proof. In recognition to that fact management provides ear plugs in case you have a neighbor that snores (we did). It is also important to remember that this is grizzly country. Also that the restroom is about 100 yards from the dorm. But there was no way I was walking that far to pee in the middle of the night. Consequently when nature called I tiptoed down the steps and out the door and a (very) short distance away. There I am with my headlight on doing what I had to do before realizing that the headlight was penetrating all of 10 feet into the fog that had descended that night. Realizing that 11 feet away was the biggest baddest griz in the park the flow stoped and I beat a retreat to the security of the dorm. Whew! Next morning of course there were no tracks and I came to the realization that we had access to a balcony from our room and, even better the room below us did not have similar access to the area below our balcony. Problem of peeing in the middle of the night solved! (and another life saved). Kathy on the other hand still felt it necessary to take the trek to the restroom. She, of course was on her own, and luckily avoided any encounters with mr. or mrs Griz. God I would have missed that woman!
07P1010040.jpg
The "Balcony" our room was the one on the right


The fog with accompanying drizzle extended into the next morning and we decided to loaf that morning. So after Breakfast we hung around the dinning hall, drank coffee and read, My choice? Night of the Grizzly, of course, the story of the first two fatalities due to grizzly attacks in Glacier, both on the same night. With the weather clearing and fortified with my new found knowledge about the griz we decided to take a short hike that afternoon.
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Weather Breaking up
We took a trail that first heads s. then east and is the alternate, though longer and more scenic route, to get to Sperry Chalet. And a trip in which you are almost guaranteed to encounter a griz. Heading up the trail not 5 yards from the Dorm, we encountered our first of many mountain goats we were to see over the next few days.
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First Goats
We arrived at the first pass and someone took our pic.
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First Pass s of Sperry Chalet, Looking into Lincoln Creek Drainage, notice we are both armed with bear spray canisters, we practiced with dummy canisters, too
We turned around here as we didn’t want to miss happy hour. It is funny but at home we can nurse a single glass of wine or beer all evening but during these social happy hours the wine rapidly disappears.

To be continued

Mike
Last edited by oldranger on Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mike

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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:22 am

Great Mike, been looking forward to this TR for a while, thank you. Saw a show on the
Chalet a few years back, it looked very intriguing. Those are the kind of accommodations
my wife would want if she were to spend any time in the backcountry, if she ever
decided to go again.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:15 am

Glacier Day 4

Day 4 dawned clear and cold. This was our day to hike up to the Sperry Glacier. About a half a mile from the Chalet a single board bridge across a small rivulet was covered with frost. We slid slowly across the bridge bracing ourselves with our hiking poles. The sun greeted us as we reached the north side of the canyon. The following pics and captions pretty much describe the remainder of the day.
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After an initial descent from the chalet the trail traversed to the N side of the Canyon and sunlight!
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Sunlight and Warmth!
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First of many Goats we were to encounter
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Interesting Geology!
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We passed many small lakes and tarns
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Cleft in Headwall. In the "old days" most tourists rode horses to this point but had to walk the remainder of the trip up.
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Ptarmigan I almost stepped on
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View to the N
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View to NE
IMG_4649.jpg
View to E


Views of Sperry Glacier and the remainder of day 4 in the next post

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:12 am

Glacier, Days 4-5
IMG_4650.jpg
Sperry Glacier has shrunk to the point that it is 3 separate pieces of Ice
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close up of upper glacier
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'nother goat
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Down the cleft
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Hole in the wall
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Bright lichen
Day 5 in Glacier was a simple hike down the mountain to Lake McDonald Lodge.
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Lake McDonald Lodge Room


To be continued

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:35 am

Glacier Day 6

On day 6 we drove the “Going to the Sun” highway over Logan Pass enroute to the Many Glaciers Hotel. The overcast and smoke draped a gray veil over the landscape and the traffic for “ off season” was heavy. We did a short, touristy hike at the top of the pass to view Hidden Lake and a bit of Glacier Backcountry.
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Waiting for construction, ubiquitous Red Busses
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During hike we viewed a mountain goat seemingly stuck on a ledge, kept changing direction but going nowhere
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Even in September there were flowers
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More Flowers
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Looking S over Hidden Lake
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Looking N heading back to Logan Pass
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Looking e, down Lake St. Mary from Sun Point, yes that is smoke in the background


Many Glacier Hotel provided us with shelter from the storm for the next two nights. Our stay there was punctuated with wind, driving rain, but more importantly striking sunsets.
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Sunset From Many Glaciers Hotel across Swiftcurrent Lake


To be continued

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:24 am

Day 7

Day 7 was highlighted by sunrise, wildlife viewing, and dinner---all from the comfort of the hotel. Despite howling wind and rain one couple we met during the trip chose to hike during this “layover” day--Kathy and I decided to take the leisure option.

The constantly changing morning light resulted a bunch of photos. Here are a few.
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Sunrise light across Swiftwater Lake, view wow
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View w
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A little later, looking sw
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Same time as previous photo, looking w. These two could be stitched together for a pano except the far shoreline wouldn't match
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Still Later, boat provides a head start for those hiking trails to the s.


Dinner that night was one we will always remember. The server was a delightful young lady from eastern Europe. She suggested we try the fresh sturgeon caught out of Flathead Lake. We did and were astounded with the great flavor and amount we were served. It was a meal to remember.
Sturgeon.jpg
Sturgeon Dinner


to be continued

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:37 am

Day 8

Waterton.jpg
Map for days 8 and 9
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Many Glaciers Hotel
Leaving Swift Current Lake a griz decided to feed close to the road. Joining the hoards of other travelers we did leave our car and approach to the point that a a 300 mm lens would take a reasonable pic. There was still over 50 yards and 50 people between us and the bear. We actually got our closest pic when back in the car and continuing our drive.
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Griz
The drive over the Chief Mountain International Highway featured stunning scenery and an occasional herd of cows in the middle of the road.
Big Chief Mountain.jpg
Big Chief Mountain, this pic is a little funky because I grossly underexposed the pic and had to manipulate it in my computer to even get an idea what it looked like
Arriving at the Prince of Wales Hotel early left us some time to explore so we took the Red Rock Parkway nw to Red Rock Canyon.
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Entrance to Red Rock Canyon
In Waterton Park village I picked up my one day fishing permit for the next day. Back at the hotel kathy really liked the bellhop who operated the ancient elevator--he was wearing a kilt and of course she wondered how he was dressed, underneath!
45P1000131.jpg
Prince of Wales Hotel, from Boat the next AM


To be continued

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:03 am

Days 9-10 the end.

Next morning we took the ferryboat up and across Upper Waterton lake to the Crypt lake trailhead, along with several other people. Again we were in Griz country and, unusual for us, we talked and talked loudly, the entire trip. Most of the 2,300 ft 5.4 mile hike is over a good trail. The last half mile scared the p---- out of me. In addition to my pics here are a couple of u-tube videos (not mine) that illustrate the trip. Arriving at Crypt Lake I had about 90 minutes of fishing time before returning to meet the boat at the TH. Catching a single 15” non-native Yellowstone Cutthroat took about 15 minutes so the pressure was quickly off, luckily since that was my first, last and only fish of the entire trip.
46P1000144.jpg
On the trail to Crypt Lake

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Looking toward Crypt Lake Cirque
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Traverse to Tunnel
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Yellowstone, non-native Cutthroat
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Crypt Lake, most of lake is in Canada, far edge and wall in US
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Pants only slightly damp I climb up into tunnel after completing "death traverse"
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Ladder of Doom
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Descending Ladder of Doom, death is certain!
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Wobbling across the last scary part

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Having avoided getting eaten by a griz and somehow not falling off the cliff we are approaching the lake with about 15 minutes to spare before the boat arrives to return us to civilization


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee31DMv6Alw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3B6Jy1PZPs

Day 10 was a bail out day. Somewhere near Missoula we got back into smoke and it was smokey all the way down to the Idaho border.

the, the, thats all folks!

How about an Eaglecap Wilderness Trip next?

Mike
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby markskor » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:58 am

Excellent TR...
Obviously semi-planned by Kathy as not enough fishing.

Two surprises: They let you enter Canada -
We allowed you back in.

How was the beer?
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Sept 2012 9 nights 10 days in Glacier/Waterton Lakes

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:10 pm

Re: Beer

There's no place like home! Bend is pretty much beer nirvana. 14 local breweries, only one that I avoid, plus the growler guys 3/4 mi from my house provides a selection from all over the country.

Mike
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