Glacier National Park: Summer '99

Every year, I set off on an annual road trip for three weeks or so, just to get the hell out of Ann Arbor and to forget that I go to school full time yet work 40 hrs a week. Last year, it was Europe (for pictures, click here).

This year, I decided to stay a little more domestic. I had originally planned to set off alone for parts west. I was going to go to Glacier National Park (a.k.a. The Most Beautiful Place on Earth And Don't You Forget It!) in Montana, then to Seattle, and then down the Pacific Coast Highway to L.A. However, my girlfriend, Kathy, quit her job about a week before I was scheduled to leave, so I convinced her to go with me to Glacier. With the expectation that she would be with me for about 5 days and then return on her own, we set off for Montana in separate cars (a very nice Geo Prizm (bright purple- mine) and your basic Saturn (light, dirtproof purple- hers)) on July 7, 1999.

Our purple car caravan stopped in Michigan City, IN for a while on the first day, but we drove straight through after that and made it to Badlands National Park, SD, on the morning of the 8th. After a brief visit to this unique landmark, we groggily got back in the purple cars and continued to Montana. After spending the night in a motel in Helena, MT (lest the sleepy Kathy crash her car into a passing buffalo), we got to Glacier National Park, MT on the early afternoon of the 9th (i.e. a Friday). Several interesting spots of road construction popped up along the way to the park, two of which involved us waiting for long periods of time for a "pace car" to follow- just in case we got confused as to where the road was SUPPOSED to be. However, we did arrive at the park amid cheers of moose, deer, chipmunks, and other creatures who dared us to run into them with the purple cars. (Incidentally, if you need a mosquito or Junebug cadaver for any reason, please let me know- I have several million of them still attached to my hood.)

The beauty of Glacier is simply beyond words (i.e. I lack the creativity to describe it). However, some of our notable experiences included:

  • Saturday- hiking the Loop Trail, 4.5 miles UP to an old chalet at the top of a mountain (the keyword here being UP!!!)
  • Sunday- taking a rowboat out on Lake McDonald, a beautiful mountain lake on which huge storms seem to whip up for no apparent reason (and without warning).
  • Monday- convincing Kathy to stay until the end of the week, then each catching an ACTUAL FISH while flyfishing that evening (even though she let mine get away!!!)
  • Tuesday- nearly running into two moose on the way home from town
  • Wednesday- taking my purple car up to the northwest corner of the park, then following a quaint dirt road (READ: a loose collection of small boulders strewn together to resemble a two-track road) to a beautiful lake and hiking trail. It was here, while swimming in said beautiful mountain (READ: COLD) lake that we each caught soon-to-be debilitating colds
  • Thursday- a solid day devoted to hiking, avoiding horse poop, and in general, posing for our last rolls of film

    On Friday, I had been planning to head to Seattle while Kathy was planning to go home. However, I decided to simply return with her (in separate purple cars) for a number of resons which included:

  • I had spent so much extra time at the park (and loved every minute of it) that I would have had to simply fly through everything else on the trip
  • concern about Kathy's safety alone in her purple car
  • running a slight fever with two ear infections
  • abject poverty

    Yes, having no money tends to put a damper on trips this long, so I decided to return home in the interest of not having to sign over firstborn children and pounds of flesh to the nice folks at Visa (who, incidentally, should note that this site has over 1300 hits and would do well to advertise here!!!). We set off for home in our purple cars together, separately. It should be noted, however, that instead of heading straight home, we stopped at the lovely little town (READ: tourist trap) known as Wall, SD. If you have never been to Wall, you are probably a normal human being, and should make a note to yourself to keep up the good work. You see, Wall is home to the famous Wall Drug (motto: "Free Ice Water!"), which advertises from SD to Australia in order to bring your tourist bucks to their drugstore (READ: freakshow with giftshops). This place is simply absurd in its tackiness, but still must be visited for your trip west to be complete. If you have ever traveled I-90 through South Dakota, then you know that the number of billboards for Wall Drug increses exponentially as you approach exit 112.

    Upon our return, we developed our nine (yes, NINE!) rolls of film from the trip. I have distilled them down to the best 25 or so pictures for you.


    On the pier in Michigan City, Day 1.

    In Badlands National Park, SD, Day 2.

    Kathy, perched precipitously close to the edge.

    Standing in front of Avalanche Gorge, in Glacier National Park (finally!), Day 3.

    Kathy and me, in a well-planned shot of the Gorge.

    "These mountain lakes are colder than they look!!!".

    Kathy's favorite picture of me, at Avalanche Lake.

    Kathy, at my favorite spot in the park- Avalanche Lake.

    Us at the start of the Loop Trail, a 4.5 mile, ALL-UPHILL (ugh!) mountain hike, Day 4.

    Farther up the Loop (and very tired!).

    Still farther up the Loop.

    The trail started in 80 degree weather, but here we are in snow (and not done yet!).

    At the chalet at the top of a mountain, we have finally reached the top of the Loop Trail.

    In a rowboat on Lake McDonald, Day 5.

    Self portrait on the boat.

    The beautiful Kathy, sunning herself on an outcrop, Day 6.

    At St. Mary falls.

    Kathy, with her flyfishing success for the day (she let mine get away while I was trekking back with the camera!).

    Kathy in a field of wildflowers near Kintla Lake, Day 7.

    In front of the Dancing Cascade Loop, Day 9.

    Kathy, with the Dancing Cascade Loop.

    Tired of hiking (and running a slight fever).

    Back at Avalanche Lake, a.k.a. our favorite spot.

    Heaven's Peak, after a morning snowfall.

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