Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Montana Meanderings - North (Part B)


Time to move on.  Left West Yellowstone at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23rd and pulled into the Great Falls KOA at about 4:00 p.m.  Pretty tight maneuvering in this park.  Even small travel trailers were having trouble backing into the sites - you can imagine how much fun we had!

One of the very best things about Great Falls is that my brother Jon's youngest daughter, Emily, and her family live here!  So on Wednesday, July 24th we joined Dusty, Emily and their two children Anna and Andrew for a visit to nearby Giant Springs State Park. 


Anna

Andrew & Anna
The kids loved feeding the fish at the hatchery and we loved seeing the springs. 

Andrew

























150 million gallons of this very pure water flow into the Missouri River every day and it impressed the Lewis & Clark Expedition, too, 208 years ago.





The green underwater plants were amazing!



One of my favs of these two!


Cute young robin...

























































Laid back kind of day today, Thursday, July 25th: Emily & kids came over to the KOA to play at the waterpark.  Andrew is one tough little kid - he did NOT want to get out of the water even though he was blue with cold!

Glacier National Park has been on our bucket list for a long time, so at a little after 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 26th, we drove north to St. Mary MT and settled in at yet another KOA late in the afternoon.

On Saturday, July 27th we headed over to the St. Mary Visitor Center at the east entrance of the world's first International Peace Park, established in 1932 when Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada) and Glacier National Park (United States) were officially joined together as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.  It became a World Heritage Site in 1995.  A visitor center is nearly always our first stop as it gives us a good overview and they usually have outstanding displays and movies of the history/attributes of the park.

Sunday, July 28th and time for some hiking!  We took the free shuttle bus to the Logan Pass Visitor Center and from there did the 1.5 mile hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook.  We might have enjoyed going further but the trail beyond was closed due to recent bear sightings. 











The wildflowers on the way were spectacular!!

An adolescent Showy or Aspen Daisy, I think...

Rosy Paintbrush
















Glacier Lily








































And, our picnic lunch at the Hidden Lake overlook was nice although a little more crowded than we normally like.  While there we had fun watching this hoary marmot.

















Hidden Lake
The scenery on the hike back was gorgeous...

















White Mountain Avens
        And, on a rest stop back down the mountain, I discovered these little hidden floral treasures among the rocks.  Love spending time up in the tundra!  That's probably the biggest thing we miss about Alaska...
 
Not sure what these are...

We had several close encounters with the critters, too!  The mountain goats here are quite accustomed to tourists...
Afternoon nap

A flower child

 ...as you can see by the following two photographs!  Not sure who has the right-of-way in a situation like this.

 


Here's mom & child wandering off in search of solitude, I'm sure!


 On our way back home, we hopped off the shuttle bus near the west end of St. Mary Lake and hiked down into the gorge to see Baring Falls.  Beautiful!




Today, Monday, July 29th, we drove the car south on Hwy. 89 just outside the east edge of Glacier National Park, turning off on Hwy. 49 to re-enter the park to explore the Two Medicine area. 

On the way, we had this wonderful view of  Lower Two Medicine Lake in the distance.  Kinda' cloudy today, though.

Lower Two Medicine Lake

Our first stop was at the Running Eagle Falls trailhead where we took the short trail to see Running Eagle Falls. 

Running Eagle, a young Pikuni Indian, is the only one of her tribe to have gone on a four day fast to suffer, dream pray and find her medicine.  She became a true woman warrior, but when she was nearly 30 she was killed by the Flathead while on a raid in their territory.  Her body was brought back to Upper Two Medicine Lake and buried in a tree on the mountain overlooking the falls.

Love the rain drops!

Fireweed

Looking down Two Medicine Creek from the falls


Running Eagle Falls

Two Medicine Creek

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake

Such clear water and gorgeously colored rocks!

Love this really fuzzy bee!



Next, we drove to the end of the road to Two Medicine Lake where we checked out the camp store.  On the way home, we had this great view of Two Medicine Lake.  Still cloudy...
Two Medicine Lake

On Tuesday, July 30th, we decided to go see the western portion of Glacier National Park.  We, again, took the free park shuttle bus for the entire length of "Going to the Sun Road" getting off at the Apgar Visitor Center.  There we wandered around the visitor center and through several of the commercial businesses in the immediate area.

On our way back east, we stopped off at Avalanche Creek and walked the Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail and part of the trail through Avalanche Creek Canyon.  Wow!


Avalanche Creek

Avalanche Creek


I couldn't resist showing you the
REAL colors of Avalanche Creek!

More Avalanche Creek

Back at the campground, we noticed this tiny rig next to us (it had been cooped up in a trailer and was finally released).  Wonder if you can flat-tow this little baby...


We've tried to spend each day here in Glacier National Park in a different section, so today, Wednesday, July 31st, we headed north a little ways to the Many Glacier area. 

Lake Sherburne on our way to the Many Glacier area
We hiked a little over two hours, along the southwestern corner of Swiftcurrent Lake, along the northwest length of Lake Josephine and then along Cataract Creek before arriving at Grinnell Lake.  We scarfed down our lunch, enjoyed the sunny afternoon for a bit and then headed back by way of the opposite shore of Lake Josephine this time, which also took us by much smaller Stump Lake.

The lodge at Swiftcurrent Lake (near trailhead)

Lake Josephine

Bear scat!

Grinnell Lake (Grinnell Falls are just right of center)
No picnic tables here, but the view in the photo above
made it worth it!
 
Post-lunch nap...

The only flower photo I'm going to treat you to today is one
I titled: "Ageing Sucks".

Stump Lake
Good, but tiring day!


Well, our time at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is nearly over and we haven't yet gone to see the Waterton (Canadian) portion of it.  So, on Thursday, August 1st, we headed the car north on Hwy. 89 and then turned off to the northwest on Chief Mountain Highway (Hwy. 17) crossing into Canada at Chief Mountain Customs station. 

Prince of Wales Hotel on Middle Waterton Lake
After arriving at the Waterton Townsite, we went first to get boat tickets for the "International", a restored historic boat that, along with other boats in the fleet, make 2-4 daily trips south across the lake to Goat Haunt, USA.  Waterton Lake, by the way, is the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies and straddles the USA/Canada border. 

It was a rainy day, but we enjoyed the boat trip seeing the unusual rock formations and the gorgeous lake/scenery. 

Bald Eagle

Unusual folded rock formation on Waterton Lake
 Some folks were heading back to Waterton Townsite on the same boat, but we and others opted to do some hiking first.  To do so, we had to pass back through U.S. Customs (the non-hikers didn't have to go "through" Customs since they were returning directly to Canada).  We got a chuckle out of the ranger station: a folding picnic table set up outside of a very small customs building.  The customs agents ride the first boat to Goat Haunt each day and return on the last one!

U.S. Ranger Station at Goat Haunt
We wanted to hike to Rainbow Falls, an easy 2-mile trip which passes near the Waterton River.  Rainbow Falls was nice although not very high or impressive.  In fact, my photographs of the river and the falls were not very impressive either...

Harebell

Red Baneberry, I think...

Showy or Aspen Daisy
We returned to Waterton Townsite on one of the afternoon boats and then headed northwest to see Red Rock Canyon (as long as we were in Canada now anyway!).

Here comes our return ride!
MV "International" of Shoreline Cruises
 About halfway to Red Rock Canyon, we stopped to watch this sow black bear with two energetic cubs playing in a meadow.
































Red Rock Canyon lived up to its name and we enjoyed wandering around there even though the weather was a bit gray and drippy...

Common Evening Primrose, maybe...











































On the way home, the same sow and cubs had moved to a nearby hillside but were still having fun!
























One of the things that intrigued us on the Chief Mountain International Highway were the fake cattle guards.  Do the cows really not know that they are just painted onto the asphalt???


These young cattle were totally oblivious that we were waiting for them,
 since our hybrid car was so quiet.  Then John honked and they panicked!



















OK, I confess: since I am reconstructing these blog posts at a much later date (gasp!), I have no idea what we did yesterday.  But, on Saturday, August 3rd it was time to leave St. Mary.  We enjoyed the area and definitely enjoyed Glacier and Waterton Parks but this was certainly not our favorite RV park.  Beside the fact that our cell service was pretty much non-existent (we had to drive about 20 minutes to the top of a nearby mountain to make a phone call and check messages), the lack of rules here made for a lot of rudeness.  People cut in at the laundry and walked through RV sites all the time - even while the lot occupants were eating their dinner outside!  The office staff was not reliable or consistent which caused us problems getting a part shipped to us.  So, at 11:30 a.m. we headed back south and arrived at the Great Falls KOA at 4:30 p.m.  Time to see if someone somewhere can figure out this problem with our supplemental braking system.  Pierce RV Shop agreed to take a look (the replacement unit had been sent to our niece Emily's house here in Great Falls) but they were booked for about 3 weeks, so we decided that it wouldn't hurt our feelings to hang around with Emily, Dusty and the kids for awhile!

Monday, August 5th: not sure what else we did today, but we did make a trip to Sam's Club with Em, Dusty, Anna and Andrew.  You'll enjoy this little video:

video


Wednesday, August 7th: This time niece Emily's husband, Dusty, was able to join us at the waterpark.  So fun to see the kids enjoy the water!

Andrew, Dusty & Anna

Emily & Andrew

In the evening, we took a wander around the park and found some beautiful hollyhocks and sunflowers. 






















































John kept busy picking raspberries while I was exploring...

On Thursday, August 8th, we headed to the nearby Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center for a couple of hours.  Beautiful building and views...

Interpretive Center viewed from the river side (back)

View of the Missouri River









The musket shooting demonstration down near the river was entertaining and the center was informative and well done. 








Here's a photograph to refresh your memory of the purpose of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.







The dioramas, in particular, were a great way of visualizing what this trip - and particularly the portage difficulties in this area - was like for those early explorers.








The portage required because of the "great falls" on the Missouri River was just over 18 miles through prickly pear cactus.  If you've ever spent time in the desert, you might have some idea of how not fun this probably was!






After dinner we took a short hike on the nature walk here at the KOA park.  We thought this cloud formation was pretty impressive!  Nice ending to another nice day.













Friday, August 9th: we've been wanting to tour the C.M. Russell Museum and today's the day.  Most of you have probably heard of this very famous western artist and this place does him honor!  The museum was begun in 1953 and is located beside (and includes tours of) his 1900 era home and log studio.  The museum/gallery includes not only the world's largest collection of Russell's paintings, but also artifacts of the Northern Plains Indians, related modern artwork and the Browning Firearms Collection.

On Saturday, August 10th, all seven and one-half of us (friend Meaghan came and Em's expecting #3) hopped into Dusty & Emily's car and headed for Cataract Falls in the Lewis & Clark National Forest.  I still have no clear idea where we were 'cause Dusty took us on bumpy back roads that had both his wife and friend Meaghan giving him LOTS of grief!  But we finally arrived, enjoyed the half-mile hike to the falls and had a wonderful picnic lunch there while the kids played in the water.
Lower part of Cataract Falls

Upper part of Cataract Falls
 



Meaghan, Andrew & Anna
Showy or Aspen Daisy
White or Richardson's Geranium


Tuesday, August 13th: Today was our long-awaited appointment with Pierce RV to see if we can (hopefully!) get our supplemental braking system working properly.  They replaced both of the units in the car and motorhome.  A short test drive went fine, although it was a little strange having the technician riding in our tow car as we're going down the street!  At least we know the brake is being applied appropriately...

That evening Emily & Dusty left the kids with a babysitter and we all headed down to the Sip 'n Dip Lounge (a/k/a "the mermaid bar").  What a hoot!  It opened as a tiki bar in 1962 and the mermaids were added in 1995, becoming quite the hit in a state so far removed from anything even remotely Polynesian!!  Fun evening!

Don't miss an evening out here if you're ever in Great Falls!


Well, time to move on...we left Great Falls at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14th and had a pretty easy drive.  Hwy. 200 was pretty good except for a section near Lincoln that was old and had no shoulder and Rogers Pass at 5,600' was no problem.  We arrived at Jim & Mary's RV Park near Missoula at 1:45 p.m.  Love this park!!  There are gorgeous flowers everywhere!

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