Tuesday was our last day at Glacier. One of the things we wanted to do was take the ranger-led boat ride on Saint Mary Lake. It was quite interesting in part because the first fire, Reynolds Fire, had started while our ranger was giving a talk on a boat tour in July. She related her first hand experience.
Needless to say the primary subject of her talk for us was fire in the park, how it is part of the natural cycle, and how it is managed.
In the picture above you can see there is a mix of burned and unburned trees. This is good because in the future a mixed age forest will be there.
This is a view of the opposite side of the lake. If you look closely you can see many brown-orange trees. They are dead from a beetle infestation, and a future fire will clear the area for new growth.
You can also see some of the smoke from the second fire creeping up over the mountain. Our boat ride was in the morning, and the ranger explained that the fires damp down over night. By later in the day we did see smoke from the first fire as hot spots came back to life.
Overall the air was quite clear on the lake and we enjoyed more wonderful views of the peaks. Going on a ranger led boat ride, or to any ranger talk is a good bet for learning things and seeing the parks from a new perspective. In this case from a ranger that had seen the fire fist hand. She also talked about the glaciers and how they had carved out the lakes and rocky slopes.
As we drove out of Glacier National Park for the last time (on this trip) I felt a little sad to be leaving this beautiful landscape, but on the other hand, quietly excited to know that on the following day we would be driving towards our next adventure.
From the St. Mary RV Park we watched as the smoke clouds grew through the afternoon and evening:
When we got up Wednesday morning the entire area was "smoked in". You could not see the mountains at all. Once we were on our way, there were a few times when the visibility on the road was very limited. The skies finally cleared up by the time we got to our overnight stop.
After leaving St. Mary, (A) we stopped at Great Falls (B) for one night, and then went to Boulder MT (C) to visit an old friend for two nights. Saturday night we landed in Cody WY (D). The smoke from the Glacier fires, and from several others is in the air everywhere. It will be clear for a while and the skies will be blue, then it will move back in and the gray brown will come back in. Cody was clear on Saturday, but Sunday morning the horizon is very hazy. I get the impression from the locals this is fairly normal for late summer. The smoke from the wildfires can go thousands of miles.
We have reservations in Cody for four nights. On Monday morning we are having an inspection done on the Alfa as part of our application for a new extended warranty policy. Our existing insurance expires on September 6. We dithered about getting it, the price being $4752 for three years or 36000 miles, but when I divided it out it came to only $132 per month. That I can live with, even though we will pay the full amount up front. It would be more if we made monthly payments.
I will write more about the warranty, the company we picked, and the inspection results in a later post.
Until then, we are off to see the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and other highlights of Cody.
Am I really caught up?