Glacier National Park on a rainy day
Last Friday, a friend and I had the good fortune to be able to head up to Glacier National Park with the goal of taking a few photos and going on a short hike. While the forecast called for a chance of showers, it was decent weather in Kalispell, so I selected a warm shirt, sweater and raincoat to keep me warm. I headed out, picked up my friend at 7am in order to beat any potential crowds, and headed up to the park.
If you haven’t ever been there, Glacier National Park is a lifetime must-see. The park is up at the Canada-United States border. It includes over a million acres, 700 miles of hiking and walking trails, 130+ lakes, two mountain ranges, trees, flowers, animals, waterfalls, and more. The Going to the Sun Road that bisects the park is 56 miles long and it’s a drive that must be experienced. Describing it simply cannot adequately describe the experience. Last year, my husband and I drove the road. It was somewhat scary since there are very steep drop-offs, limited guard rails, and skinny roads with lots of traffic. Luckily cell service doesn’t work in the park because drivers have to pay attention. But because drivers have to pay attention to the road, it’s hard for them to really take in the views.
Because of that, my friend and I decided that instead of driving to our St. Marys Falls destination where there was some appropriate hiking for the day, we would take the free park shuttle. The shuttle runs during July and August and sometimes in early September, so we happened to be there three days before the end of the shuttle. We waited for 40 minutes until the shuttle started running, then hopped on, and got ready for our ride.
Once we got on, our amazing shuttle driver told us that because it was post-shuttle season, they were understaffed. Also, because the Going-to-the-Sun road is somewhat tricky to maneuver and contains some big rocks jutting out of the cliffs, no large vehicles are allowed to travel the full length of the road. Therefore he told us that he could only take us about 20 minutes up the road to Avalanche Creek.
When we got to that location, we were dropped off to wait for a smaller shuttle that would take us to our destination. It took 45 minutes before the smaller shuttle showed up. We hopped onto that one and were told by that nice shuttle driver that they could only take us to Logan’s Pass, which was midway between where we were and where we wanted to go. Upon arriving at Logan’s Pass, rather than wait yet another 45 minutes for the shuttle to take us to our real destination, we changed plans. We decided to just walk around Logan’s Pass and get some photos of the beauty that was right around us.
Except, to add more clarity to the situation, it was now raining. The day had gotten a little colder as well. And the wind was gusting in spots. So we were wet and cold and windblown, but determined to get some pictures. Except I forgot my camera at home, so all I could do was take some misty looking photos with my phone. We wandered around, getting a few photos and then went down to the visitor center to get back on the shuttle to return down the hill. And guess what! Yes, you’re right. We had a 45 minute wait for that shuttle, got dropped off at the next spot, and waited 45 minutes for the shuttle back to where we started.
So our day included about three hours of standing around waiting for shuttles, cold rain, some hail, wind, shivering and chilly fingers. But believe it or not, the day was still great. My friend and I got to spend a lot of time talking. We had plenty of fresh air, talked to quite a few other people, managed to get some photos to remember the day, and learned a lot of lessons about what to do, or not to do, next time.
You can bet I won’t ever take the free shuttle again!
I will be back at Glacier National Park exploring the hiking trails again in the very near future. I will remember my camera next time and will make sure to bundle up.
Until then, happy trails!