After an excellent breakfast at Moose Creek,
we prepared our hiking gear and our packed lunches in the portable cooler and headed out to
our first excursion into Glacier National Park.
The only other time I had been to this Park was when I was 11, while
this was the first time for the rest of our family.
What I remember of Glacier is a hike to a strikingly beautiful lake,
but my appreciation of its beauty was cut short
by mosquitos chasing me down,
compelling me to run the trail back to the car.
|Glacier National Park
|9:27 am||Departed Moose Creek||322|
Even though I ordered my NPS Annual Pass from USGS on July 13,
it did not arrive at my home in time for our departure,
so the Rangers let us in after I showed them the receipt.
We went right to the nearest Visitors Center so my children
could pick up their Junior Ranger books to begin their activities.
It was already known the Visitors Center would be closed, but we used the restrooms
and consulted with the Park Rangers there.
We loaded back into the car and prepared to head out to
(what I think is) the same lake that I remember visiting when I was 11: Avalanche Lake.
It's a popular hike that isn't too difficult and doesn't climb too high in altitude, which
is why I think it's the one my parents' chose.
We were warned in advance that the parking might be full.
As it turns out we got lucky, finding a very nice parking spot soon after the first turn left into the
off-street parking area.
We were well situated right next to McDonald Creek.
I decided to guide my family through Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail first
because that was a nice way to get my family into the mood and get to know what this Park was like.
Beautiful trees and creeks and small waterfalls and moss-covered rocks welcomed us.
This was the beginning of a very beautiful hike.
The trail followed Avalanche Creek up along the valley,
and we marveled at the waterfalls and valley walls and trees as we went.
And then we were there.
Yeah, that looks like the kind of beauty I remember.
Even though it was a bit backlit,
the view was stunning, and the illumination at this moment
gave everything a nice glow.
We were among 50+ hikers mostly admiring the view and taking pictures.
A few more adventurous ones were wading out into the lake or venturing
around the lake's edge.
We spent a good 40 minutes here, and I'm glad we did because it was time well spent
and, as we were about to discover, precious.
Because the next thing other people saw first
was the juvenile grizzly bear on the left side of the lake.
Because of the pandemic, this and many other National Parks were completely closed to
visitors. In the absence of hundreds of humans visiting these trails,
wildlife began to reclaim these areas,
leading to territorial conflict upon the return of human visitors.
(The Instagramers who wrote "Nature is healing" didn't see that coming.)
I took some good video of this grizzly bear using my 4K camera.
My sense was that it was "playful", like a dog or cat, but
in the body of a grizzly bear that could still make some powerful or dangerous
moves. The bear began at about 10 o'clock around the lake, where 6 o'clock is where the trail meets the lake,
but was moving counterclockwise unusually fast.
The bear chased two hikers off, who abandoned their day packs, and the grizzly bear just sniffed at the
packs and moved on, which tells me the bear wasn't interested in our food.
The bear steadily moved counterclockwise, and my wife got a little more fearful and said we should head back, so we did.
We and other hikers reported this fast-moving grizzly bear to Park Rangers patrolling the hike.
I showed one my 4K video, and she radioed other Rangers to move in.
As my family returned to the trailhead,
I saw multiple rangers, including one carrying a rifle, probably with tranquilizer darts,
purposefully climb up the trail. I heard later
that the grizzly bear continued to the beach and scared off the hikers, cutting off
trail access, and trapping the hikers on the right side of the lake for a while.
The problem was not just the bear but also
the way humans might react upon spotting the bear.
We were very glad we got to Avalanche Lake when we did
because that was the only chance on the entire trip.
We learned the next day that within hours of our visit,
the trail to Avalanche Lake was cleared of and closed
to visitors for three days on account of this grizzly bear sighting.
While the Park Rangers were taking care of the bear,
we returned to the car and relaxed and settled down for lunch.
Remember that nearly all dine-in services in the Park was closed,
so we made the most of it.
The car carried our own portable chairs,
so we set them up next to
a short walk from where I parked the car, and
had a most pleasant lunch in a beautiful location
with the sound and sights of creek water running through a lush green forest.
No waiting for a waiter to take our order, go back to a kitchen, and bring our food before we pay the bill.
We had it all.
Who knew that enjoying lunch this way might be a fringe benefit of a pandemic?
After lunch, and another bathroom break,
we continued along
Going-to-the-Sun Road, which was a 50-mile
scenic road stretching from west to east through the southern part of Glacier National Park
completed in 1932.
The National Park book I have said this drive was a "Must See", so we drove to and enjoyed the sights,
starting with Mount Cannon.
Various informative displays were there
along the way to read. Every view was stunning.
After we rounded the hairpin turn at "The Loop", we climbed higher
and could attain views of Heavens Peak.
Our children began to fall asleep as my wife and I enthusiastically took in the views
and stopped for pictures.
Continuing on we passed by the Weeping Wall and had great views of
both Mount Oberlin (top picture) and Clements Mountain, a famous sight uniquely associated with this Park.
We passed over Logans Pass to cross the Continental Divide.
Because our daughter was asleep we continued down the other side.
We stopped to see Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.
|Red Eagle Mountain
Continuing down the hill we could see Jackson Glacier, then Red Eagle Mountain.
|Wild Goose Lookout
If you pay attention to smartphone news, you might recognize this shot.
Earlier this year a famed picture
distributed by Gaurav Agrawal
was found to
crash or even "brick" Android smartphones, forcing a reset that deleted all data.
(iPhones handled it fine.)
The joke was that it was so beautiful and dramatic the Android phones couldn't handle it,
but the reality is that Android software had a bug so bad the OS couldn't handle the color space in the picture.
Where was the photo taken?
Right here, in Glacier National Park last August, and today I found the spot.
As soon as we drove up to Wild Goose Lookout I immediately recognized Agrawal took that picture right here.
People here brought chairs so they could simply watch the scene here,
as the clouds and sun made the scene change every ten minutes.
If I had the time I would have liked to join them.
My picture wasn't near sunset like Agrawal's, but
beware: I cranked up the colors (unrealistically) it to make it look more like
the infamous Android smartphone-crashing wallpaper.
Cue the awestruck chorus.
We continued east as far as we could go,
Rising Sun. The land beyond this was part of an Indian reservation, so it was the end of the road for us.
|Logan Pass Visitors Center
By this time our children woke up,
so we returned on Going-to-the-Sun road, since it was the only way back.
We stopped at Logans Pass Visitors Center, but
unfortunately the gift shop was closed by the time we got there.
We took in some views and used the restroom there.
This was when we learned that the Hidden Lake trail starting here was also closed for three days
due to a grizzly bear sighting the day before,
so we would not be allowed to hike there
for the three remaining days we had at Glacier National Park.
We explored the area and took some pictures of the views from here.
Again the stunning views abound.
|Glacier Grill & Pizza
After a long day in the Park, we were all hungry.
My wife found online a place called Glacier Grill & Pizza
that was open for dine-in, so we drove out of the Park
and made our way there.
I would have posted a link, except
this place does not have a web site, so far as I can tell.
We all had a great time.
The pizza and root beer was very tasty, maybe in part because we were hungry.
After dinner we went all went back to Canyon Foods to
pick up some more groceries
and allow everyone to pick up a few favorite snacks.
He went back to Moose Creek for the night,
and it seemed like rain clouds were moving in so we made sure we shuttered the windows.
I forgot to write down the charge remaining at our return,
but it was plenty after driving 104 miles.
Dean E. Dauger holds a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA, where his group
created the first Mac cluster in 1998. Dr. Dauger is the award-winning
author in multiple American Institute of Physics' Software Contests and
co-authored the original, award-winning Kai's Power Tools
image-processing package for Adobe Photoshop.
After founding his company,
Dauger Research, Inc., its debut product,
Pooch, derived from Dr. Dauger's experience using clusters for his
physics research, was soon awarded as "most innovative" by IEEE Cluster
and continues to revolutionize parallel computing and clusters worldwide
with its patented technology.