Part 4: Helena, MT to Waterton, AB, CA via Glacier N.P.


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The Trip

We spent 2 nights with Ben and Krista at their mini-ranch in Helena. We did shopping and chores and posted photos. We had a good-bye BBQ and then headed north toward Lakes Seely and Swan. From there, we went into Glacier NP west, then east, then into Canada.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Ben has many RC (radio-controlled) toys. Indeed, his personal business is based on RC trucks. But, in my opinion, the BEST RC toy is this 2 cycle, high power RC car. It makes quite a racket, much to the chagrin of his neighbors, but this baby hauls ass. His best guess is that it goes about 70 mph. Best of all: it is virtually indestructible. He crashed it several times with no ill effect.

His buddy Erin has a similar device, with a different body. Both cars go REALLY fast and are a hoot to watch.

From Helena, we headed to Lincoln and from there up the Seely-Swan highway where we passed this odd sign.

We spent the night at Salmon Lake S.P.The next morning, a fellow approached us and stated that he recognized our unimog and had seen us last year. He could not recall the exact location, but he was "sure" that he had seen us before. At Salmon, we saw a number of nice yellow flowers.

From Salmon, we headed north and then east to Hungry Horse Dam. We stopped at the dam for a few photos, but did not do a tour. Above is a shot of the face of the dam which was built in 1953.

The overflow spillway at Hungry Horse. I am sure that watching this is in action is a real sight. If we had been there a few weeks later, that may have happened. The visitor center folks told me that the lake was rising about a foot a night due to heavy spring runoffs that were above normal.

A look down the face of the dam to the powerhouse.

From Hungry Horse, we went into West Glacier. We went up the "Going to the Sun Road" but it was closed after a few miles so we had to settle for minor attractions. Above is a photo of one of many snow melt waterfalls that were in the area.

The creek beside the road had many nice waterfalls and was flowing fast and cold.

From West Glacier, we traveled US 2 east toward the other side of the park. We were overtaken by nightfall and decided to find a place to camp. Initially we investigated a USFS "organized" camp near US 2 but rejected it in favor of a remote camp by Bear Creek. The site was next to the BNSF northern main line and we got several trains that night. Above is a shot of one as it passes us at dusk. Most of the track in that area is inside a "snow shed" that protects the track from avalanches.

Next morning, we headed out for East Glacier and entered the park at Two Medicine. We followed the road to the end and encountered a big moose on the road. Sadly, he bolted before I could get the camera ready. Above is a shot of the lake at Two Medicine.

The cliffs on the north side of Two Medicine were substantial.

The area around the store was filled with these little critters and they littered the area with their burrows making walking hazardous..

The famous Red Busses of Glacier. There were dozens of these in service.

The odd get even. We spotted this odd couple in the parking lot at Two Medicine and asked to take their photo. Their bumper sticker says "Misfits" and I think that was true. We never got the full story and that was OK.

From Two Medicine, we headed north along the park boundary and got the shot above. Stunning vistas.

The grasses were green and it made a great contrast against the bright whites of the snow on the mountains.

There had been a big burn in the area. The aftermath was visible even today.

Once inside the east side of the park, we stopped for a vanity shot. The wall in the background is huge.

We finally arrived at St. Mary's lake and got several nice reflection shots.

This would have been better if the water had been a bit calmer and earlier in the day.

This was the best reflection shot of the group.

There were many kinds of flowers in bloom.

Wild Goose Lake is in the center of the lake.

There were a number of these nice, yellow flowers visible in the park.

Some of the exposed rocks had this orange lichen. Lately, I have taken a liking to lichen.

The snow capped peaks beyond St. Mary's lake created a majestic vista.

We stopped for lunch at Sun Point and this peak was clearly visible from the picnic area.

On the top of the peak was a HUGE cornice that looked like it was at least a hundred feet high. That massive overhang, as indicated by the shadows, will not last long in the sun. When it collapses, and it will, it will come crashing down the side of the cliff with catastrophic force. Secretly, I was hoping to be there when it cut loose, so I waited and waited but then we we got bored and left. An item of note: the photo above is a crop of a 300mm zoom resulting in an effective focal length of perhaps 1500 mm.

A large falls visible across the canyon from the road.

One of several glaciers visible from the east side of Going to the Sun Road.

The snow melt water created a myriad of small creeks that tumbled down the side of the mountain.

We left east Glacier NP and continued north on US 89. From the highway, we spotted this structure called Chief Mountain. Very imposing. The steep cliffs were clearly the result of glaciation grinding away the underlying strata.

We continued on to Waterton NP and just inside the perimeter of the park, this buck deer ambled across the road like he owned the place. Note the velvet covered horns that are still growing.

Above is a photo of the world-famous Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton. Our plan was to stay there, but the hotel had other plans. They had not yet opened for the season, so we settled for a much more modest place that was close to town and had an internet connection.

The view looking south from the Prince of Wales Hotel across Waterton Lake. Waterton Village can be seen at the lower right of the photo.

On the way to the hotel, we spotted this ram. I expected deer, but did not expect this. There was also a baby, but he bolted before I could capture him on silicon. But, daddy had not a care in the world and initially sat so still I thought it was a lawn statue.

Many thanks to Ben and Krista for letting us stay at their home. The Seely-Swan area was very, very lush and did make me think of actually purchasing one of the many places that were shown for sale. I am certain that the very first winter would radically change things, so in the end we just motored on. Glacier is stunning, but my advice would be to wait until the road was fully open before going to the park. There were essentially no crowds when we went, but that was because the premier attraction (the road) was still closed. Plus, our early arrival prevented us from staying at the Prince of Wales (that and a lack of a reservation). Perhaps next time.

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