Well, trip followers and e-mail hackers, our last few days wound down at Glacier National Park. This has been fantastic and we do hope to come back and do some back country camping without the kids… If only we knew people who might want to watch them! Despite anything you read here, they are delicate little angels and a joy to take care of.
August 13, 2015 – Still in Glacier – Full Day #3
Today we had planned to go to Two Medicine, but that was all on fire and closed, so options were evaluated.
We decided to do an easy hike called Johns Lake Loop – it would be closer to the west side, which we hadn’t been to yet, and EASY, which the kids really needed at this point. It’s tough when your kids have better stamina than the majority of Americans (including us), but are like ADHD mountain goats to hike with. B almost fell off multiple cliffs because he’s crazy. And we were really limited to hikes less than 6 miles based on the Hidden Lake experience.
We drove through the park on the Going to the Sun road east to west – really pretty with sweeping vistas. You climb in your car over Logan Pass, and then descend slowly down to the west side – took 60-90 minutes to get to the trailhead. On the way there, we saw the Highline Trail, which is along an edge just above the road. It is Sarah’s dream to do that trail and the rest of the day was spent insisting the kids could totally hold onto the metal wire handrail on the side of the cliff, while Matt insisted B would just go off the side. Sigh…
We started the John’s Lake loop on the west side, and realized why we like hiking on the east side of the park better. BOR-ING. Like hiking in a northern WI forest – pretty, but dammit we drove like a thousand miles and we can see this anytime. Then we saw a pile of fresh bear scat filled with berries, and noticed the forest was soundless, and got the hell out of there, hiking as fast as we could. Sarah had made the executive decision to not “hoot” to alert wildlife this time, but clap instead. Run, clap, look frantically around, repeat. We then lunched under a bridge near a creek.
We hiked on, with poorly marked signage and other lost hikers along the way. We then were SO done. We drove around to go find a bathroom, and MIRACULOUSLY found a random parking spot at Avalanche Lake. Now, this is a trail we attempted to do like twice a day for three days in a row the last time we were at Glacier and could never get parking. It became some weird obsessive quest for us and eventually we got up at 6 am one day to secure a spot and did the trail, which while nice, wasn’t THAT nice. The other issue is that this west side of the park is all full of California people who are SO obnoxious and annoying and all drive Mercedes and look mildly disgusted that they are vacationing in a national park. So of course we took the random miracle parking spot and then just sat there in the car. Matt was all, now what? So we used the bathroom and broke a nearby water faucet that Sarah had told the kids was a water pump (um, wrong, Mommy – but in all fairness it looked like those water pumps from WI waysides).
We did the Trail of the Cedars which was totally boring, but it seemed wrong to just sit in the parking lot and gloat that we had gotten a parking spot. So we had a picnic on the nearby river and it was awesome. Everyone went in the river and played – it was the hit of the day. It was just gorgeous. Hippies were bathing in the river near us, kids destroyed some kind of rock dam, Matt was taking pictures, Zoe could throw in rocks, Sarah got to scan nearby hillsides with the binoculars looking for wildlife (who are we kidding, grizzlies!!). Everyone was so happy.
(If you look closely, you can see us by the river – tiny white dots)
We drove back on the Going to the Sun Road over to the East side, and Matt, Sarah, and B all jumped in the waterfalls on the side of the road. If you have ever been to Maui, Going to the Sun Road is the glacial equivalent of the Highway to Hana.
And man, those waterfalls felt great! And you totally won’t catch Giardia, right? I mean it came right from that glacier there and it’s totally filtered by a bunch of moss. Let us know how that goes.
We drove home and got ice cream (AGAIN). THEN, Matt came racing into the hotel room – you will never guess who was staying in our lodge? Yes, HIM: the man with one arm. He’s like a celebrity now to us, our only point of familiarity in a strange world here.
We ate…something… Maybe from the hotel restaurant? Maybe with beer after the kids went to bed? It’s like Groundhog Day here, kids. EVERY day is the same.
Miles driven: negligible
Soda Crush levels beaten: NONE (375 sucks)
August 14, 2015 (OMG, Sarah has to pay her credit card bill by midnight!)
We awoke and had had a decent night of sleep. For unclear reasons. We told the kids we were going on one last hike, and Zoe just toddled around destroying crap, Noah said “okay” in a resigned voice, and B began screaming “no, no, no”. We get it.
So we made B our “Team leader” for the hike. We drove up to Many Glacier for the only other hike we could find that met our criteria (shorter than 6 miles, we hadn’t done it this time or 3 years ago, good natural features, a place we could sit and eat lunch, and not on fire. The last one was Matt’s vote). We decided to do the hike to Redrock Falls, which was 3-4 miles round trip, but could extend it to a roundtrip hike to Bullhead lake, which was a mosquito infested lake and would be 6-7 miles. The kids were already complaining, so we chose the shorter one.
We like Many Glacier because it’s close, Sarah saw a grizzly bear there 3 years ago, and because it attracts less of the CA riff raff we have previously mentioned (too far away for them to drive from west side of park). So we parked at the motor lodge and embarked on the trail. Within 0.5 miles, Zoe had lost one pacifier, and nook supplies are already critically low. We had to watch her like a hawk the rest of the time in the backpack to make sure she didn’t lose the one remaining one. Matt and Sarah just kept remembering the one Simpsons episode…
On the trail, you will never guess who we ran into– a one armed man!!!! I mean, REALLY? But he didn’t look familiar to us, and Matt later insisted it was a different guy. The poor guy probably wondered why Sarah said “hi” in such a friendly way (because we are like totally almost friends with the other dude). The perfect alibi for the OTHER one armed man if there had been a murder in the park. Which there wasn’t (yet).
We took a short spur trail to Fishercap lake and totally saw a girl moose (whatever they are called) bathing in the lake. Awesome! B and Noah started building a bridge to connect two rocks in the water and were pissed when we had to continue on. The trail went through subalpine meadows and forests, with sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains – very pretty!
Our team leader was not inspired by his position. Team leaders should keep up a good pace, not demand to be carried, should not strip the delicate foliage of its leaves and throw it on the ground, sometimes tasting it, and should not spit at their parents (even if no spit comes out it is still spitting). They also need to learn the difference between right and left. But this gave B the boost of confidence to complete the trail with only moderate whining. We stopped at the falls, which were very pretty.
On the way back we saw a spruce grouse. It obviously thought we had food. We SO don’t feed the wildlife and wish they would stop making it look like we do, especially when other hikers are near by!
We then ran into a nice family who asked about what we had seen for wildlife, and while Sarah was wildly gesturing, he was all “wait, I see you are holding a pacifier, did you lose one earlier? Because someone put it on the railing of the bridge!” It was the best day ever and damn, there it was on bridge railing a mile later. We will definitely have to boil it to the get the Giardia off (eh, rinse under cold water in hotel sink).
We also stopped back at Fishercap lake (we’re sorry, but that is the cutest lake name ever), and there were TWO bull moose in the water splashing their antler things all over and pretty close – it was awesome! Noah and Braden wanted to finish their bridge, but the moose were too close to safely do it.
The trail ended and we drove back straight to the, wait for it, ice cream shop. We promised the kids moose tracks ice cream if they saw a moose. So Matt and Sarah ate that and the kids ate some nasty bubblegum ice cream. Sarah then realized her stupid credit card bill was due on the 12th (oops) so we had to go use the Wifi in the lobby. Apparently they have been having issues with scary bikers using their free Wifi? Shocking. So they entered the password on Matt’s computer for him after verifying our room and wouldn’t tell him at first what it was. Meanwhile, the dude next to him in the lobby leans over and is all, what’s the password? Good lord, people.
We ordered pizza from the Rising Sun pizzeria (a shack with a tarp with a handwritten sign on it) and it was fabulous!! We then went down to the river next to the hotel and kids threw rocks in until we heard thunder.
We got to see a great thunderstorm come in over the mountains, which was cool. Matt was happy that it washed all of the ash from the wildfires off of the car. This is hopefully good news for all the fires (a new one just broke in Waterton Canada over the border and the Canadian officials are using copters to dump water now) or bad news (lightning strikes cause more fires). Either way – we are outta here tomorrow! On to Bozeman.
Beer tonight? Strong Red Ale for Sarah and…something for Matt too.
Miles driven: negligible
Soda Crush levels beaten: NONE and GRRR
August 15, 2015 – Glacier National Park to Bozeman, MT
Well, our time at Glacier has to come to a close. We absolutely loved our time here and would love to come back some time again. Today we woke to blustery winds and 38 degree wind chills. We had to wear coats and pants. Well, we were too lazy to put on pants, but you get the drift. It was raining and 50 degrees. We had no hiking plans for the day – our goal was drive to Bozeman, which SHOULD have taken less than 5-6 hours. Sigh.
We hit the gift shop at the hotel and were off. We drove down to Two Medicine, on the eastern edge of the Park but south of us, just to check it out, as we hadn’t hiked there due to the wildfires. It was gorgeous and remote.
We would love to come back to this area. We then drove down to East Glacier and it looked super fun! It was a quirky little town AND had the Amtrak train depot there – when we do our back country camping someday without kids (ahem, ahem), we hope to take Amtrak to Glacier.
We then drove back through Browning and down various highways in MT through to Helena. There was like nothing on the road. It was more ranchland and cows. Then just before Helena, it got quite beautiful – the Rocky Mountains and Bob Marshall Wilderness (highest concentration of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states) are to the west of where we were driving, and all of a sudden there were mountains everywhere – so pretty!
We had the honor of using the saddest rest area ever, which was the scariest thing Sarah and Matt had ever seen. Like how does diarrhea end up 6 feet up the wall?? And although not pitch black like some recent pit toilets we have used, we think this is the one time it would have been nice to NOT see the inside of the structure.
We hit up Qdoba and Hardees (let’s be honest – we were out of veggies and the kids wouldn’t eat just animal crackers and string cheese for lunch any more) and were on the way to Bozeman.
The signs started early – “C’mon Inn – FIVE hot tubs!!” – along the freeway. And then, we were there – the glorious C’mon Inn of Bozeman, which after three years we had assumed was a figment of our imagination. Upon pulling into the parking lot, there were two school buses in the lot. What the hell. Turns out they were for a wedding and we saw slightly sketchy but well dressed elderly people slowly getting onto the buses. Oh good lord. Only at the C’mon Inn.
We checked in and hit the pool area. For those of you not in the know, this is the single most awesome hotel EVER. The pool area has a regular pool, a hot tub, and a 2 foot deep “baby pool” with slightly warmer water that Zoe could toddle around in. AND, much like the old school Best Western atrium hotels, it has a large atrium that rooms open into, that features koi ponds, fake waterfalls, and 4 HOT TUBS. Just randomly scattered around. We have been waiting for this. It may have taken 1 ½ hours, but WE FINALLY got the kids to sleep. We got some take out from Outback next door; we just sold our soul (clogged our coronary arteries) for a blooming onion (but it was worth it) and got into our OWN personal hot tub RIGHT outside our room. We had a baby monitor for the kids and everything. THEN Matt saw the hot tub near ours had a bunch of guys and they were all drinking beer in THEIR hot tub, so we did too. And it was great.
THEN things got slightly sketchy. Sarah noted that there seemed to be a lot of single men around, with towels slung over their shoulders, checking out the various hot tubs and who was in them. THEN she got paranoid that someone was going to bust us for drinking beer in the hot tub (Matt was all, who would do that? The night manager?). THEN some dude wearing a vest came over and looked at us and Sarah was all friendly and waved politely BECAUSE she thought it was the night manager and he smiled and waved back and hung around. But he was just some dude checking in. We are thinking that maybe this is not just a family friendly hotel, but perhaps a hook up joint? Oops. We got the heck out of there into our room (after eating our carrot cake of course).
Ah, another day in the books. The children were miserable today – nothing went quite right (Noah couldn’t get chocolate milk at Hardees, B seems to have developed a nervous twitch every time the word “hike” comes up, and Zoe just screamed endlessly from Helena on until we cracked and gave her peanut butter cups).
Miles driven: 336.5
Soda crush levels beaten: NONE – I GIVE UP