To continue the story from the last post, on Friday when we learned the Going to the Sun Road had reopened, we drove back to St. Mary from Many Glacier.
After being delayed by some road construction, we entered the burned area. It wasn't pretty, but we were very glad to see that it has been brought under control.
Traffic was not very heavy, but we were not allowed to stop in the fire area. Further up, we saw that almost all of the available parking spaces were taken at the pullouts near Logan Pass, so we just continued to the LP Visitor Center. There we cruised the parking area for a while until, just as we were ready to give up, someone left and we were able to park.
Yup, some spots in Glacier can be as full of cars as Yellowstone was.
The views from Visitor Center were an amazing 360° of alpine heights.
The air was reasonably clear, but some of the long views of the mountains were a bit hazy due to smoke.
We were lucky to walk up to a ranger talk outside the Visitors Center. She pointed out that the glaciers are rapidly melting, and are expected to be completely gone in five to fifteen years. Part of this is a normal conclusion to a natural process, but part is due to the accelerated global warming that is occurring. In the park, temperatures are rising three times faster than in other places. They are experiencing two more weeks of frost free weather each year, plus a greater number of summer days over 90° than in the past.
This was one of the largest areas of ice we saw in our week at the Park. Most are just little smudges of remaining snow and are no longer counted as glaciers.
Behind the Visitors Center there is a boardwalk path across an Alpine Meadow, and up the next hill. The sign indicated it was a 1.6 mile walk to the "Hidden Lake Overlook". Although we had already walked three miles that morning, it didn't look very hard and we were game to give it a try.
The first section was a bit deceiving in that it was fairly flat and the trees blocked the view of the stairs up the hill.
This is looking back down towards the Visitors Center from a spot less than 1/3 of the way to the lake overlook. There was a very nice rocky outcrop here where I took a nice long rest along with many others. Puff!
There were zillions of wildflowers of many colors and kinds. This type of lush alpine meadow will disappear. The flowers flourish from the water melt coming down from the ice above.
As we walked we saw some areas where the water flow has already stopped and dry rocky stream beds cross dead grass stretches.
A study is being done on one of the animals being impacted by these changes.
We saw this group of Mountain Goats going down a rock wall. It seemed the smallest one was in the lead.
This gal was resting in the shade quite near the trail.
We were also delighted to get a look at this rare, radio controlled, two-headed critter!
The altitude was getting to me!
Looking back again, this is another section of this "easy" trail. It seems to be going across the level meadow, but notice the many steps. Puff.
When we got to the overlook, the view of Hidden Lake was more than worth it!
The 1.6 miles going back was much easier since it was mostly down hill, and Craig was very nice to let me hang onto his arm going down all the steps. Ever since I sprained my ankle last spring I have felt a bit unsteady on steps that have no handrail.
Glacier National Park is now one of my top favorite places in this beautiful country of ours. If you have never been here, do try to see it in the next five years or so. The rocks, forest, and mountains will still be here after that, but much of the lush greenery will be drying up or gone.
By the time we got back to the Visitors Center it was too late to drive west of the pass, and still get back before they closed the road for additional fire clean up that evening.
I slept very well.