North to Glacier

As with a few of my favorite places, I’m going to have to break Glacier National Park into two segments because I have far too many images to share in one post. It’s THAT beautiful!

Before I can write about Glacier though, I have to get you there! In my last post I was just leaving Utah. That was a couple weeks ago! When I wrote that post I was feeling pretty good about being nearly caught up on my blogging. Then I went AWOL into National Campgrounds with no WiFi for nearly two weeks. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed now because I’ve been adventuring around the Teton/Yellowstone area during that time. No shortage of beauty there!!

I made plans to visit my niece, Makenna, in Missoula on my way to Glacier, and chose an alternate route up Hwy 93 along the Salmon River. At a midway point I camped at the Challis Valley RV Resort. I don’t know that I’d call it a resort, but I took advantage of their “gas guzzlers” two nights for the price of one special, and planted myself for a couple days. What is lacking in lush landscaping they more than made up for with friendliness, spaciousness, and great WiFi. Had Makenna not been expecting me I might have stayed awhile longer.

On the way to Challis on Hwy 93


I woke early the following morning to a mystical moody bit of light coming over the mountains and wasted no time rolling out of bed and grabbing my gear. There’s no point in even asking the girls if they want to come along, but I always do… just to see their excitement. Jazzy does a full body wag, while Sadie quivers and dances. They’d rather go along, even if it means riding in the back of the car for hours on end, than to be left behind.  With no destination in mind, I drove along several of the local country roads just to see what I might find. Of course I wasn’t disappointed. I’m rarely disappointed.

Challis sunrise

The following day my route up Hwy 93 took me north along the Salmon River and over the the mountains along the Lewis and Clark Trail. The whole drive was beautiful and scenic… and as one might expect in the mountains… steep. I’ve often pondered the possibility of rock slides in places like this. They happen all the time, but we don’t often think about them as we’re driving along these beautiful roadways. Gravity and conditions move the earth. This I know. I just don’t want to be in the path when it happens. As I was coming down the mountain, focusing on the twists and turns and breaking and gearing down, a sizable rock bounced off the mountain and crashed to the highway 20 feet in front of me. I’d hate to think what damage it might have done had I been just a wee bit further down the highway.

Salmon River

View from “The Beast”

After an overnighter in Missoula and some time with my beautiful niece, Makenna, I headed  out for Glacier National Park. The last time I was there (and only time for that matter) was one summer in my early teens. I was part of a Christian choir called The Lower Columbia Singers back then. (Now known as The New America Singers.) I have to say that being part of that organization was a very definitive time in my life. It was a grounding time, and enlightening time, a bonding time with peers outside of school… orchestrated and overseen by two wonderful people, Ted and Betty Campbell.  We toured the country in busses during the summer, singing in churches and parks along the way… local families and church members taking groups of us into their homes for the night, feeding us, and bringing us back to our busses in the morning.

I remember the experience far better than I remember the park, but I do remember the beauty, and the Going To The Sun Road. In reality… going back was like going for the first time, because it was all about the surroundings. After I got myself situated in a campground in Columbia Falls and fired up the AC for the girls, I headed into the park. I only had the afternoon and evening to play with, but filled it nicely with several stops along McDonald Lake and the river, and then a hike up to Avalanche Lake.

Mountains of Glacier National Park from McDonald Lake

This hike was fairly moderate, but since it was evening and I didn’t know what was ahead and how long it would take, I made it intense… taking it at a very fast pace. I was also well aware that I was in Grizzly territory and hiking alone, so moving quickly up the path toward other hikers seemed prudent. FYI to all of you who worry about me out here… I am very “bear aware”, constantly watching and making my presence known with sounds, and I hike with bear spray. When alone in known bear territory I hike with the spray in one hand a my camera in the other. So far so good.

Much of the trail followed along Avalanche Creek, with several falls along the way. The vegetation here brought back vivid memories of my youth in the Pacific Northwest. Midway  up the hike, part of the trail was deeply effected by an avalanche/micro burst that tore a path down the mountain a few years ago, bringing down hundreds of trees in it’s path. It was amazing to see the effect. The aerobic hike up the mountain was brought to a climax when I reached Avalanche Lake. Absolutely breathtaking!

Avalanche Creek

Avalanche Lake

I was exhausted in a very good way by the end of the day, and was happy to get back to camp and hunker down with the girls with thoughts of what tomorrow might bring. And as amazing as this day was… the next was even more magical! Stay tuned!!!

In case you’re dying for something more to read, here’s the result of a recent interview about my journey… The Dailies.


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