Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Stats: 467 miles driven, 9 hours travel, 3.5 miles walked, Kalispell to Glacier National Park to West Yellowstone, Montana via Idaho
Stars! My friends, there are still stars in the sky!! I don’t remember seeing a dark sky since we left PA. The days are long, making it twilight when we go to bed around 10:30 pm and light long before we *usually * wake up.
But today, we were awake by 3:00 and checked out at 3:30 so we experienced nighttime. It is curious how grounded and relieved I felt seeing the night sky. The nourishment was palpable. This sun-loving girl never expected to “need” the dark. And, yes, I froze Gregg out as I kept putting the window down for a clearer view. It was a lovely 47 degrees.
We were bound and determined to get into Glacier National Park before 6:00 a.m., at which point they would require a pre-purchased pass. There were no cars at the gate so we drove straight through to the Visitor’s Center, arriving around 4:15.
I got out and looked at the stars. Wait, is that the outline of a mountain that I see to the east?! Ugh! My photo is time-stamped 4:22 a.m. By 5:00 a.m. all the stars were hidden from view as morning had broken. It would be another hour before we got a glimpse of the sun over the mountaintops.
We began driving “Going-to-the-Sun” around 5:00 a.m. and we led a parade of motorcycles and cars. Clearly, many people were intent on beating the 6:00 curfew. I don’t know if these folks had plans to start a hike at a certain time which meant snagging one of the precious few parking spots or what. Very few people stopped to get out at overlooks.
Our first stop didn’t look like it would be anything, but as soon as we got out of the car, we heard the sound of rushing water. Sure enough, there was a beautiful fast-flowing stream and waterfall down below road level. There was a nice bridge across the water. We took pictures and then stood and enjoyed the view and sounds with NOBODY else in sight! Yet, we could hear the cars whizzing by at street level.
We enjoyed another short waterfall boardwalk with only a few people with us. There were pull-outs along the way and we stopped at many. There is a visitor center at the top pass, but the parking lot was full of parked cars and many others circling in hopes of being in the right place when someone left. We decided to skip it.
The drive was an enjoyable, relaxing, and breathtaking 50 miles from one side of the park to the other.
We didn’t see any wild animals. What’s up with that? But we did pay a wild price for gas in the middle of nowhere: $4.59 per gallon. Ouch!
Gregg took a nap in the car while I walked around the parking lot near the exit of the park. I loved feeling the sun on my skin and the cool breeze in my hair. The trees were “clapping their hands” as we gazed up at the majestic mountains. It was a joy just to be outside, alive and well in God’s beautiful world.
Once out of the park, we were on the land belonging to the Blackfeet First Nation. It was mostly hilly grazing area with the Rocky Mountains in the distance. This was the view the majority of the trip to West Yellowstone. There were several large lakes and some mountains had icefields on them. And the sky was a beautiful blue. Ahhhh….
We snacked in the car all day and planned to go out to eat bison or elk tonight. Once we got checked into the hotel, we were both so tired that we decided to skip dinner and go straight to dessert. Who is surprised?
We looked for the ice cream shop we visited in 2015 but, alas, it was not to be found. This meant that we had to decide between the half dozen places that sold huckleberry ice cream. (They sell huckleberry EVERYTHING here.) We picked a shop that had inside seating since it was in the 80’s. We both had 2 scoops of huckleberry ice cream in a waffle bowl with huckleberry sauce on top. “Say now…that’s mighty nice!” – Huckleberry Hound
On our way back to the hotel, we went to a car wash to get a layer of bugs off the front of the car and windshield. Whatever bugs we were hitting today sounded like rocks hitting the windshield!
Tomorrow (Wednesday) we’ll drive into Yellowstone to hike around some painted mud pots…or whatever sounds enticing at the Information Center. But I don’t think we’ll get an early start this time. -zzzz