Friday, August 19, 2011

First Visit to Glacier National Park

We spent the morning running errands and catching up on a few things. This afternoon we decided to go to the Apgar Visitors Center at the west entrance of Glacier National Park, pick up a few brochures and get some information from the park rangers about hikes and other sights to see at the park, since it's our first time here. We are staying at the North American RV Park in Coram, MT, just five miles from the west entrance to the park.

We learned a LOT from the newspapers, brochures and pamphlets from the park as we sat down to plan our next couple of days. We learned that the rangers are working hard to prevent "bear jams" in the park. That's where one person driving along spots a bear, stops the car on the side of the road, jumps out and starts taking photos. The next car sees them stop, knows that there's a photo opp of some sort awaiting, stops behind them and pretty soon you've got a whole row of cars gawking at the bear, moose or mountain goat. (Yep, and Sparky would be one of the ones trying to get closer to get THE SHOT.) Sk the rangers have an arsenol of "weapons" to get the bear to skedaddle--horns, cracker shells, and other painful annoyances to haze bears away from humans. The bears have learned that pain is associated with ranger vehicles! "Bear jams" often exist until the ranger vehicle pulls off, and then the bear lumbers away. Rangers have even had to resort to unmarked cars, the bear recognizes the uniform and flat hat when they get out of the car and run off! Interesting stuff, the pamphlets and newspapers and articles available at the visitor's center....

We are ready! We've got hiking maps, we've got driving maps, and we've already got a "NO GO" on one of our first choices of hikes--the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail--a 2.5 loop trail that travels around the lake offering views of Grinnell and Salamander Glaciers, Mount Gould and Grinnell Point. Apparently, a bear attacked a person hiking that particular trail. The hiker got bit and swiped by the bear's claws, suffering injuries, but the bear moved on and the hiker was able to walk out to get help. They determined the bear was where it normally ought to be, and so when a bear is spotted in the area, they close the trail. I guess the hiker just turned a corner and surprised the bear.  The trail has been closed for more than a couple of weeks, and it doesn't like it will reopen any time soon. So, plan B---
Lake McDonald
Find out some other alternatives and we've got them.. We could rent a rowboat, sit upon kayak (18.00 an hour) or motorboat (25.00 an hour) to tool around Lake McDonald, one of the beautiful glacier formed lakes in the park, take a guided ranger tour, or a Red Bus Tour...We're going to take a Red Bus Tour late in the day on Friday.  The Red BusTour---or the Red Jammer Tour, as locals call it, gets that name due to the drivers "jamming" the gears in the old days as they drove up and down the steep, rugged mountains. These vintage original vans/cars/buses have been rebuilt/refurbished by Ford Motor Company to use clean burning propane fuel. These vintage tour buses were built by the White Motor Company back in the '30's and are SO COOL! The red buses are a symbol of Glacier National Park and a reminder of the time when travel was done with style and grace. Look at this beauty! I like the looks of them better than the pink jeeps they use on the Sedona, AZ tours!

souvenirs from the penny smashing machines
After we got done with checking out the visitors' center and registering for the tour on Friday, and getting a souvenir smashed penny for the park, (I'm collecting them to make Christmas ornaments out of them) we headed down the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road, the main road through the park. We just decided to explore a little bit as the Red Bus tour is going to take us on a dusk five hour tour tomorrow along this same road.

We ran into a woman hiker from Ohio who said she had a personal encounter with a mountain goat she met on a trail. The mountain goat eyed her and two other hikers she happened to be close to on the trail, and the trail was so steep, they couldn't move off the path but a few inches or they'd fall into the ravine. The goat proceeded to walk through the middle of them and kept going! (I guess she hadn't read about the hiker who got butted off a trail in another national park and died from his fall.)

Time to head home and call it a day...We're very excited about this park and the beautiful area of Montana we are staying in....We're gonna show you some gorgeous sights tomorrow on the rest of our drive we took today along the Going-To-The-Sun Road......see you tomorrow.....

1 comment:

  1. Oh Sparky this is SO COOL! I love the red buses. Can't wait to hear about a dusk tour.

    Sorry about the trail closing. I imagine it will be that way for us when we get there next week too.

    Thanks for the smashed penny idea. We've seen them at most of the places we've been and thought they'd be cool but didn't want them to be just more junk laying around. Putting them on a little RV Christmas tree is a fabulous idea. Now I'll have to retrace my entire route since April to collect them all. LOL!!