Our day began with the ding of a 4 AM alarm. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see any meteors, so we packed up, took our showers, and were on the road by 6! Because of the early morning cold, we decided not to have breakfast at camp, and stopped for some Tim Horton’s fuel around 7:30. (Mmhmm, that coffee and those donut holes are delicious!)
The long drive back to America was made bearable by some pretty cool Canadian scenery. Well, that’s not entirely true—it just went from the majestic Rockies to pretty standard farms nearly immediately. We did, however, see the Team Canada Olympic Training Facility. (Think ski jumping looks crazy on TV? Well, the jumps look absolutely insane in person.) Thankfully, the border crossing was uneventful, and we were greeted with a pleasant “Welcome Home.”
Glacier was surprisingly quick after the border! We stopped right before its entrance to refill with gas, and then entered the National Park.
Nearly immediately we could tell that it was a place of incredible terrain. We could see meadows and lakes, with tall, jagged mountains rising above. Despite potential popular belief, the park is named “Glacier National Park” because the terrain was created by glaciers, not the fact that there are some glaciers in the park.
Shortly after we entered the park, there was a bear siting! Unfortunately, only Ally was able to see the cub because Patrick was driving and there wasn’t enough time to grab the camera.
Aside from the terrain (and the associated hiking!), the main attraction at the park is the solitary road that cuts across the mountains from east to west—“The Going-to-the-Sun Road.”
This road is impressive in itself as it clings to the edge of the mountains and winds its way up to Logan Pass (and the Continental Divide), and then down to the valley below.
It’s only a two-lane road, so the driving can be a bit stressful, but the views you get are incredible.
Thankfully, they provide plenty of “turnouts” to stop and take pictures and soak it all in.
Repeating a theme from earlier in the trip, we didn’t have any camping reservations for tonight. So, we drove from campground to campground, being rejected time and again. (The sites at this park are almost all “first-come, first-served” so we thought our early arrival would help us secure a spot. Apparently not the case.) Finally, after we reached the far-western portion of the park without success, we spoke to a volunteer ranger and were directed to “overflow” space in the group campsites. (At our site, we ended up being paired up with some guys from NH who were on their yearly outing and had just returned from a week in the backcountry.)
After setting up Turtle (our tent), we decided to hit the road and take our time heading back up to Logan Pass to explore. Up at the visitor’s center, we saw some folks pointing at the far mountains—with Ally’s camera we were able to see the big horn sheep! (More on these creatures later …)
We looked at the trail guides and decided to go for a short hike to “Hidden Lake.” Before we even reached the trailhead, we found more wildlife!
Our hike meandered through some alpine meadows, where we were able to see more wildlife right next to us, before it reached some lightly wooded areas.
At the end of the trail, we found a beautiful overlook—providing incredible views of the mountains and sunset in the distance, along with a glacier-fed lake below.
On our way back, we ran into this YouTube star. (See video below …)
Back at the visitor’s center, we saw the same Big Horn sheep, but now much further down the mountain. We decided to take the trail over, and found the herd grazing. (We even saw a few stay true to name and ram their heads into each other!)
They were incredibly impressive but definitely intimidating.
It was awesome to see them come so close, but Ally was certainly a bit uneasy.
By this time, it was nearly 8:00 PM so we got in the car and headed back down “The Going-to-the-Sun Road.” We watched the sunset from different turnouts, and saw some more awesome views.
As we were making our way down to the valley—and scoping out an overlook to make/eat dinner—we saw more wildlife. This time, a BEAR!
Eventually, we selected a spot by a babbling brook to make tuna sandwiches for dinner. After the second bear siting, we were half-way expecting some wildlife to emerge from the woods and come after the fish. Fortunately (or, unfortunately?), that didn’t happen.
With our stomachs full, we headed back to camp and went right to bed. Tomorrow’s another early morning with a full-day trek to Yellowstone in store!
– Ally and Patrick
Lake Louise, BC to Glacier National Park, MT – 351 miles