Helllllooooo ??? Anyone there ??? I thought I would get less busy as our house is nearing completion........... But I was wrong! Spring is HERE!!! Debbie and I have been selecting the final details for the house, lots of things are waiting until we move in, but it still is taking a lot of time.
I feel kinda bad that I have not written a Blog recently, I have tried and have a couple more in the draft stage, but getting them together has been difficult with us being so busy. The reason I feel kinda bad about not getting them written is that a friend, NancyJo, said in an email to me the she was 'seeing Montana through our eyes'. I don't know if anyone else enjoys these as much as she does, so maybe she just has a really boring life....................
The photographs you see on this Blog are as if you were standing beside us. We do NOT overwork them in Photoshop or change them at all, what you see here you would have seen if standing with us.
Anyway, we noticed the Going to the Sun road was open from St. Mary Junction to Rising Sun, so we headed across US-2 (you can't go anywhere out here without getting on US-2) to Marias Pass, East Glacier Park, out to Browning, back into Glacier and up to St. Mary. We had to stop at the Silver Cascades, an interesting waterfall going up to Marias Pass. Usually when we have been here in August it has been little more than a trickle. Today the water is bouncing down the staircase like crazy! Still a lot of Snow going up to the Pass.
We stopped at Marias Pass and took a couple of photos of Little Dog and Summit Mountains from the same place that I always take photos so if anyone looks back at my older Blogs they can see the difference in the Snow. The second photo is looking down Skeleton Mountain toward Calf Robe Mountain.
We pulled into the driveway to Rising Wolf Ranch and turned around at the gate and took these three photos. Jim is not up here at the Ranch yet, so the Gate was padlocked, but we wanted to take these photos for those who have been a guest at Rising Wolf Ranch, to see what the Mountains look like at this time of the year. The first is a wide view from Summit Mountain to Calf Robe Mountain. The second photo you see Little Dog, Summit, and Skeleton Mountains. The third photo is of Calf Robe Mountain.
We turned around and took a snapshot of the Sign for the Ranch. Just for memories! Those of you that have been there, notice the Mountains in the background that were burnt by the most recent fire in that area. It will take years for these Mountains to recover. Fortunately, the fire did not burn the National Forest lands just above the Ranch.
We continued on up to East Glacier Park and since Montana 49 is closed for the winter, we had to go out to Browning and back into Glacier National Park on Montana 89 and up to St. Mary. We continued on into the Park to Rising Sun, which is as far as the road is open. We continued on down to the boat ramp and took some photos of the lake with Curly Bear Mountain in the background. Curly Bear Mountain reminds us of a Blackfoot Indian by the name of Curly Bear Wagner. We would take our group from Rising Wolf Ranch to the East Glacier Park Lodge on nights he would be speaking. His talks were always awesome! We miss him...........
Even though we were 'ill prepared for a hike' as we had not even worn our hiking shoes today, the scenery was just too awesome for us to stay in the car. So, we headed up the road which had NOT been plowed and had some 2 feet of snow on it. We climbed up the roadway to the corner of the Golden Staircase and took more photos. This photo is of St. Mary Lake with Curly Bear Mt to the right and Divide Mountain out toward the Great Plains.
The photo of the tree along the cliff is where this area gets it name. These rock cliffs take on a golden color in the early morning sunlight, giving this area the name Golden Staircase.
Debbie wanted to show how deep the snow was on the roadway, but a few place got more Sun, so the snow had melted down to the asphalt, but only in a few places.
The snow was so hard to walk on as we sank down each step, sometime at least a foot deep and our shoes (not hiking shoes) were soaked.......... We decided to go 'off road' and hike up on the side of the Mountain where there seemed to be less snow. We got some views that we had never seen before in the many years we have hiked in Glacier. They are looking into the Sun, so they are not very good but will show you some scenes you would not expect to see on a normal trip to Glacier. The first two are of Fusillade Mountain, most people call this Paramount Peak as Paramount Pictures use it as their logo. The third photo is of Reynolds Mountain.
We headed back out of the woods as the snow was about as bad in the woods as on the road. There was no one else on the trail except a small young lady came walking back down the road from the Wild Goose Island overlook and I asked her how the overlook was and she said it was all melted off. So, wet, cold feet and all, we continued on up to the overlook through the deep snow and found the overlook completely melted off. We took some snapshots from this very familiar place of Wild Goose Island, noticing that St. Mary Lake was still frozen out to the Island. These next three were from the overlook.
Debbie dropped her sunglasses and the lens popped out. It took me about 5 minutes or so to fix it and we headed back. As I, being in front of Debbie, stepped out onto the road from the overlook, GASP!!! Debbie thinks I used a couple of words like Holy ?!#@%&. Walking up the road toward us was a BEAR!!! Yes, the ONLY way back to the car was down THAT road!!! We slowly (I say slowly because that is what you are supposed to do) backed out on the overlook area. I managed to shoot a couple of snapshots as the Bear was walking up the road toward us. For the first time in all of our trips to Glacier, I had flipped the Safety off of my bear spray.
This is a Black Bear, although it is Cinnamon colored. It was a great relief to NOT have been a Grizzly! It kept coming up the road paying little attention to us but kept looking our way. As it got directly across the road (about 30 feet) from us it started up the Mountain side away from us. Relief slowly ended the cold sweat! (Maybe for Joe, but not for me!)
The Bear looked in great condition after spending the winter sleeping, loosing 1/3 of it's body weight. Still it was a Large Animal............ As it moved on up the Mountain, we walked sideways down the road until we were out of site of the Bear and I had a great deal of trouble keeping up with Debbie who was blazing the trail down the road. Did I mention the sunglasses? If we had not taken the time to fix her glasses, we would have been going down the road and the Bear coming up the road with the cliffside you saw behind the Bear on one side of the road and a shear drop on the other and NOWHERE for us to go! Could have been more interesting!!!
When we got down to the corner and around it we stopped to catch our breath. Debbie regained her composure enough to take another photo or two across St. Mary Lake. I wanted to take a photo of the roadway we had just came down, because I am sure there was a melted trail up the middle of it........... I think our shoes and socks had steamed dry! As Debbie was 'settling down' from this minor incident with the Bear, I managed to quietly mention to her that the Bear Spray that I had with me was about 5 years out of date! Fortunately, Debbie was so exhausted from our return from the Wild Goose Overlook that I managed to escape! Still don't know which was the scariest, facing the Bear or mentioning that expired bear spray to Debbie.......... hmmmmm.......... Now with a cliff to the left and St. Mary Lake to the right, and the Bear nowhere in sight, we headed on back down the road toward the car. Before we had gone any distance we came across a Hoary Marmot sunning himself on a rock at the edge of the lake. He posed well for Debbie and might have had something to say, but our feet were wet and cold and the adrenaline was wearing away so we were ready to sit in a warm comfortable Safe car.
These photos show his 'good side' as this animal looks like something put together from spare parts. This is a young one probably a year old or so and is not as radically colored as the older adults. Just give him time............
Leaving St. Mary and heading up the Mountain, we stopped at the new Blackfeet Indian Memorial being erected there. It is a very interesting Memorial. We can't wait to see it totally completed.
As we topped the Mountain, and I mean a Mountain as we climb up 1,500 feet in just 6 miles, we stopped to photograph the new trees growing in the burnt area just below Divide Mountain. Ponder this, from the Lowest point in Indiana to the Highest point in Indiana is 937 feet. We go 1 1/2 times that vertical distance is just 6 miles! This burnt in 2005 or 2006, I think, I am not sure without looking it up and I am busy writing this. So, lets go with that.......... This fire was started by a careless camper and burned thousands of acres of Glacier National Park forest and also thousands of acres out onto the Blackfeet Reservation. This fire was so hot from too much fuel on the forest floor in places that the fire destroyed the seed bed and there are few trees in those places. It also caught the Asphalt Highway on fire and a section of it had to be repaired before the road could be reopened after the fire. It is great to see the new growth where the fire raced faster across the forest and did not destroy the seed bed. OK, so I looked it up. It was the Red Eagle fire in 2006. The Red Eagle fire burned 32,493 acres.
This point is at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. From here looking East across the Great Plains, if you squint, you can almost see Indiana!
Seriously, (I am not serious often) you can see Canada from here as it is only 20 miles North of this point.
We headed on back down Montana 89 to Kiowa and out to Browning to US-2 and headed home. This was just another boring, uneventful day in the hum-drum life of Montanans. Hoping your lives are much more exciting!
If you are one of the Rare Few that read all the way through this without going to sleep. Leave me a comment! Don't worry, I won't loose any sleep waiting!