Made it, made it, made it! Finally! Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (the official name), Glacier NP for short. I'm a happy camper (well... not exactly camper. More on that later.)! I left Great Falls - which by the way ain't so great; the town that is (I never did see any falls; not that I went looking) - about 11:30 (hey, I'm on vacation already) after stocking up on the essentials: ice, beer, soda, batteries (none of your business). It wasn't raining when I left, which was great cause I needed to rearrange all the cra... in the truck, but sure enough it started up again pretty much just when I was pulling onto I-15 (if I had taken it in the opposite direction I could have hit Vegas instead.... about 2 days later!). Sheesh. Ain't this ever gonna end? It didn't rain hard actually, mostly annoying sprinkles. Annoying in that it would sprinkle, then stop, then sprinkle, then stop, then rain, then stop, then sprinkle..... And I'd turn on my wipers (intermittent), and turn 'em off, turn 'em on (intermittent), turn 'em off..... You get the picture. The clouds were really low though and it did make for some pretty cool views across the fields of wheat and hay (I'm guessing on that. I'm no farmer boy). The temperature was high 40's, very low 50's when I left which to me is Brrrrrrrrrrr - in the summer anyway.
The drive didn't take long as it was only about 180 miles so I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. I even stopped a couple of times to take a few pictures; and I wasn't even that near to Glacier yet. The final part of this leg passes through the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. Just FYI. Got to the east visitor center at St. Mary about 3:00, went inside, bought some maps and stuff, asked a few questions, then headed up to the Many Glaciers part as I had planned earlier. Got there about 4 or so I guess and because I was really, really tired of the rain, and while it was starting to clear up, there was a chance of showers tonight, I decide I was going to get a room of some type tonight. So I inquired at the desk and decided to get a cabin. It has 2 small bedrooms, a "parlor" between them with a table and benches, an easy chair and a sink (cold water only). It has a nice little wall heater, and of course has them fancy electric light thingys. But, it's almost like camping 'cause I gotta walk outside to the common bath area. Unless of course I just use the sink to... :o No, I wouldn't do that!
After settling in to the cabin I said, "Now what?" So I decided to go take a look around. I brought my camera 'cause you are surrounded by awesome scenery here at Many Glaciers. Started walking and right away I come to a trailhead so I stop and look and say, "Hmmmm!". So then I figure I'll just venture a short way to see what it looks like. So I venture... and venture... and venture some more. Pretty soon I'm hiking, yessiree bob. The sun had broken out, the air was clean and clear and I figured what the heck. There's still a couple of hours of daylight left so I'll just go for a while to see what's to see and then turn around - no specific destination in mind. Now keep in mind that I only had the clothes I was wearing and my camera. Those who've been out with me know that you just can't go hiking without the 10 essentials, water, extra food, daypack, etc. But there I was breaking all the rules learned in my Sierra Club Mountaineering training and I was loving it. I'd look up and say, "Wow!", and take a picture. Then I'd look behind and say, "Wow!", and take a picture. Then I'd look down and say, (everybody...) "Wow!", and take another picture. I was probably taking a picture every 200 feet. The scenery is just so tremendous here. I was feeling so good that I'd jog a stretch here, then a stretch there. Pretty soon I was just running along the trail. "Flame on!". "Be free!". "It's alive!". It just felt so great to be out of the truck and doing something besides driving.
After awhile I saw some falls up ahead so I decided to continue to there. As I got closer I noticed that the rocks were all red. I mean red, not pink, not veins of red running though, but deep, dark, vibrant red. Cool! So of course I had to stop and take some pictures. Then I headed for the falls which were audible from quite a distance away. The falls were multilevel, multi-streaming, all flowing over these cool looking red rocks. I took some pics then climbed to the top and finally just sat there enjoying the scenery. There were towering ramparts of multi-hued rock all around as I looked up - green, red, black, gray, brown, tan colors stacked on top of one another; often twisted and folded this way and that, showing the incredible and inexorable forces that went into the creation of the monoliths I saw above me. Then I looked down to see birds flying and playing just above the treetops below. All the while listening to the soothing roar of the falls. There were falls behind me, falls to the right of me, and falls plunging away in front of me. That's what I call Surround Sound!
So I sat there for awhile, just soaking in one of God's premier audio-visual presentations. Thankful that I had arrived safely into such an incredible piece of nature at it's finest. I reveled in the roar of the falls, the singing of the birds, the buzzes and chirps of the insects. I gazed wondrously at the spectacular palette of colors, shapes and textures of the surrounding rocks, forests and lakes. I realized that my butt was getting cold since I wasn't moving around anymore and the wind was picking up! So back to the cabin with more photos taken on the route back.
Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be sunny, warm and clear. I hope so. I figure I'll pick a hike and make that my day's plan. I've got my books, guides, and mapping software so I'd better get to it. Don't want to stay up too late, and besides, I'm feeling pretty tired right now. It's tough driving so much! It is!
Take care all,