Sunday, October 27, 2013

Glacier National Park - Days Six & Seven

Day Six of our visit to Glacier – our last day together in the Park. Today we entered the Park by the Many Glacier entrance. Like Two Medicine, this is a short dead-end road but it gives you access to a very gorgeous area of the Park. We heard that there are many bears in this area and we were hoping to spot a few.

In fact, it didn't take us very long at all to find one! We hadn't even made it to the parking area when we spotted the tell-tale jam of parked cars and people all looking at one particular spot. By the time we pulled off the road and parked and I walked back to where everyone was, the bear was gone. My mom and my husband were ahead of the rest of us and they got to see it for a few seconds. Not even long enough to get a photo though. There was a group of people that were pretty close to the bear, and mom said that it looked like he got nervous about them being there because he had been eating something and all of a sudden he just took off and disappeared into the brush. (Good thing for them!) Mom thought it could have been a black bear, but hubby thought it was a grizzly. Who knows. This ended up being the only bear we saw today.

By the time we parked and everyone got ready to hike it was late in the morning. We were planning to hike to Redrock Falls, which was about 4 miles round trip. We decided to take plenty of snacks along and just eat a late lunch when we got back. I guess we should have carried our picnic with us, because we didn't get back until close to 4:00 in the afternoon! Here's how it went down...

This is us right at the very beginning of the trail. Note the bear spray on my dad's side. Don't leave home without it! (But please, follow the directions. It is not like bug spray. You don't spray it on yourself to keep the bears away. And yes, there have been some that have made that mistake. Read the label, people.)

Unidentified Flower

We weren't very far up the trail at all when a fellow hiker told us that there were moose in the lake (Fishercap Lake) and we could see them if we took the next little trail that went off to the left. He had just come from there. So of course we went down there, and it ended up being about an hour-long detour – thanks to this guy:

Nice, huh? There was also a cow moose in lake as well.

They were feeding on whatever-it-is-they-feed-on that grows on the bottom of the lake. The cow eventually worked her way over to shore and disappeared into the woods.

 “Where you going, baby?” (Nothin' sexier than a cow moose. *snort)

We watched the bull slowly work his way from one side of the lake to the other, making a big U-turn that ended up with him coming directly towards where we had parked ourselves on the lake shore.

Moose paparazzi.

It was so incredibly picturesque. A bull moose feeding in a lake with a majestic forest and mountain backdrop. This is the stuff calendars are made of. 

We stayed as long as we felt comfortable (you don't really want to get too close to a moose – they can be pretty nasty), then worked our way back up to the main trail. What a neat experience! We heard later that there had been a momma moose with one or two calves feeding in the upper lake (Redrock Lake) earlier in the morning, but by the time we got up there all the moose were gone. Napping after their snack, probably. :)

Moving on... I've really been enjoying the whole wildflower scene lately – if you haven't noticed. And today I found the coolest plant. My personal favorite for the week. I spotted this small flower beside the trail while we were waiting for the last of the lingering moose-watchers to catch up to us.
Presenting: PIPSISSEWA (yeah, even the name of it is cool)

Not only is this tiny, delicate flower a beauty to look at, this particular plant has several medicinal/herbal uses and is also used as a flavoring in several foods. Pipsissewa. Say it out loud. I dare you.

Farther up the trail and... did I mention how beautiful this place is??? Not many captions needed here... just enjoy the view!

Mountain Hollyhock

At Redrock Lake we spotted this unusual waterbird and her babies. None of us knew what it was, but the internet helped us out and we discovered they are Common Mergansers. (Can you spot the other critter in this photo?)

Haven't determined what this one is though. Does anyone know? Leave me a comment below if you do! (Sorry, I don't have a better picture.)

Awww... Photo bombed by a bug!

Orange Agoseris.

Redrock Falls

After spending a good bit of time exploring around the falls, having snack and reapplying bug spray and sunscreen, we headed back to the parking area for lunch. (Or was that supper?)

At one point on our hike back, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye and turned to discover a giant black bug on my shoulder. It had the longest antenna. My dad was kind enough to remove it for me. (Pirates have shoulder-parrots, hikers have... shoulder-bugs? Not this hiker!) Biker Dude was really interested in the bug. He picked it up by an antenna and, laughing, said that he was going to put it on mommy. (yay.)

Up until this point, Biker Dude had been getting a little trail-weary. We had to use our creative-thinking to keep on coming up with new ways to keep him going. Lightbulb! Grandma was ahead of us... “Go put the bug on Grandma!” Laughing he ran up the trail, the bug dangling from his fingers. Until... suddenly he was screaming and jumping around and shaking his hand... “It's on me! It's on me!!!” Clever bug. He managed to flip himself around and grab onto the Biker Dude's finger. He had the grippiest legs, too, and he didn't want to let go!

And what did mommy do? Yeah... I laughed. Hysterically. (Was that bad?)

Bug successfully removed and let go, we made it the rest of the way back without any major incidents. We had our picnic at a nice little spot in the woods and then it was time to head back. 

We went out for ice cream cones when we made it back into town, then ate a little something for supper (or was that bedtime snack?) back at the house. Then it was time to pack up. We all left pretty early the next morning (Day 7 – another traveling day) to make our way back to our respective homes. We made it home before suppertime, but my family had about another 24 hours of driving left to go...

Wow, what a great week. It went by way too fast though.

Out of everywhere we went during the week, Many Glacier was my favorite spot. If and when we ever get to go back to Glacier, I'd love to spend some more time exploring the Many Glacier area. I'd also love to camp in the Park. It was nice to have the rental house this time. It was a nice spot to spend our evenings, and it was great to sleep in a real bed at night and cook in a real kitchen. However, the hour-long drive we had to do every morning and evening to get to and from the Park got to be a bit of a drag. Particularly because the road we had to travel was rough and winding. The kids and I all dealt with some motion sickness at one point or another.

Yeah, we'd love to go back again. Camp in the Park. Hike in the higher elevations, maybe even up to one of the glaciers (something we did not get to do this time – doctor's orders). See more bears (but not too close!). Explore the long, unpaved road on the west side of the Park (Inside North Fork Road, which goes to Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake and connects you with several trailheads to other lakes... I wonder what it's like up there? I saw it on the map, but I don't know anything about it.). I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the recap of our trip. Maybe you've even been inspired to take your own trip! The mountains are calling... :)

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