June 9/10, 2018: Glacier National Park

After a great day in Yellowstone, NP, and a chill evening in Great Falls, MT, Danielle, Dirk, Shera and I spent the morning packing up and enjoying the complimentary breakfast in the La Quinta on the shore of the Missouri. Our plan for the day was to head to Glacier National Park, somewhere I’d wanted to go for quite some time. As had became tradition, we set out to avoid primary highways as much as we could, and stick to the more scenic routes.

We drove north through Montana enjoying Big Sky Country towards the park, taking a riverside lunch break in one of the national forests. Because we were approaching Glacier NP from the east, it would have been ideal to take the legendary Going-to-the-Sun road, but given it was early in the season, the road was still closed due to snow. While disappointing, I didn’t let it upset me in anyway, and we instead used Highway 2 to cut across the park until reaching Apgar Campground in West Glacier.

Arriving in Apgar, we found the place to be far, far less busy than Madison Campground had been in Yellowstone, and we were easily able to find a great spot, where we set up our camp, and then headed into town to grab some supplies. Stupidly, we had not brought more than one tarp with us on the trip, and with the forecast calling for some serious rain, we needed to grab some tarps.

After completing camp set-up and supply shopping, we headed to the shores of Lake McDonald, somewhere that I’d been hyping up in my mind since seeing it online years ago. As is always a risk, great expectations can lead to great disappointments. In the case of Lake McDonald, my expectations were met. Looking over the calm lake at the snow-capped peaks was a moment I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Although I’ve seen many wondrous sights in my life, Lake McDonald was a chart-topper for sure. I spent many hours at the Lake, first with Danielle, Dirk, and Shera, and then alone, waiting for the sun to set, snapping photos until darkness crept in.

I walked back to the campsite in the dark, stopping to cop some wifi at the now closed visitor’s centre, then arriving at our campsite to catch up and enjoy a quick bite. Thus far, the rain had held off, and we were able to sit around the campfire until heading off to sleep.

The next day, the four of us hoped to get in a hike, as the weather began to turn for the worst. We enjoyed a pancake breakfast under dark clouds, and then got our rain gear on and headed out to do one of the hikes that was open this time of year, the Avalanche Lake Trail. The trail is a fairly short one, that, as is implied, climbs up to a small alpine lake. By the time we reached the trailhead, the sky had broke, and rain began to torrent down.

The trail was busy, as it was close to West Glacier, and, as mentioned, many of the trails in the park are closed until later in the year. Luckily, the beginning of the trail stays under the cover of the canopy as it follows beside Avalanche Cree, which was in full force given the snow melt, now added by the torrential downpour and the thunder booming above. After leaving the treeline, we began to feel the full effect of the rain, and the cold of the higher altitude. Once reaching the lake, the cold had really set in, and the rain was blowing sideways. Given this, we didn’t spend too long taking in the sights, and, I especially, rushed back down the trail to the car, where I found a patch of sun to warm myself as the rain began to subside.

After regrouping in the parking lot, we drove back to the campsite in order to change our clothes and relax. On Dirk’s suggestion, we then headed to the store in order to buy ourselves some steaks to cook over the fire that night. We also grabbed some potatoes and beers, setting ourselves up for a delicious dinner. Returning to camp, we relaxed, had some beers, played some games, and then cooked an amazing meal over the campfire, before dozing off to sleep.

People in this blog: Danielle’s Instagram.

Shera taking a little rest on our lunch break.

Our campsite in Apgar Campground.

A rainy start to the hike.