BOURNE IN THE USA

 

MONTANA

Montana (10th to 15th July 2010)

 

Glacier National Park (10th to 14th July 2010)

 

As we leave Seattle around midday we have a little look at the TomTom route and discover that Glacier National Park is over 9 hours away and involves crossing Washington and Idaho states then a fair way into Montana. Not the best planning as we have a camp site booked and will need to set up camp in the dark but we press on.

The drive is very scenic as we head out of Seattle and across the north of Washington state. At one point it hits 100'f! We get on a quite a windy mountain road with ski resorts on it. After a stop off for food in Spokane we push on across the north of Idaho state (it's only about 50 miles wide here) and into Montana. It lives up to its name as we see miles of green lush mountains just covered in trees. As we pull off the interstate we get on a narrow single lane road that has a speed limit of 70mph. (evidently Montana only recently instigated a speed limit in order to get government road funding; they didn't used to have one at all. The journey takes us round the side of a large lake with some lovely property looking over it. There is the most spectacular sunset, setting the sky on fire, but we don't have time to stop. A marmot is sitting at the side of the road.

Finally, as it's getting dark, we roll into Glacier National Park and find the Fish Creek campground, narrowly missing a red fox on the way in. The campsite sits on the banks of Lake McDonald which is 10 miles long. The pitch is nice and spacious, amongst the trees.

Luckily we've had plenty of practice setting up camp and can pitch the tent in the dark, finishing around 11pm.

The camp gets quite a few furry visitors, including squirrels, bats, some camp deer (not the handbag carrying kind) and a mountain lion (which we miss fortunately, they are scary beasts). One evening we get chatting to Mike and his sons who have pitched next to us. They have spotted a large bear, possibly a grizzly, on the road into the campsite. Later on, Randy and Rebecca, from Brooklyn, camp behind us and we share a few beers round the campfire with them. They're on a similar trip to us but going in reverse.

 

Going-To-The-Sun Road


The road through the park is nationally famous and thought by many to be the most scenic drive in America. It's certainly very popular with tourists. It's 50 miles each way and winds over a pass that crosses the Continental Divide through the Rocky Mountains at a point called the Garden Wall.

It's certainly stunning as we head off east, with a road that clings to the mountain side, huge glacial valleys, and loads of creeks and waterfalls. At Logans Pass we do a bit of the Hidden Lake trail through the snow, looking at the wildflowers that are breaking through in the alpine meadow.

We get a very close encounter with a gang of Big Horn Sheep which is wonderful. Carrying on east, we stop at Sun Point and walk the 3.5 mile trail to Baring, St Marys and Virginia Falls three beautiful waterfalls. Driving back west, we spot a gang of white mountain goats by some road construction stuff on the side of the road. It seems they like to hang out here.

 

Many Glacier Area


This area sits at the east side of the park and you have to exit and come back in on a separate road to get to it. There is supposed to be a lot of wildlife there. It's very windy when we go there, and feels cold. We head out of the park then re-enter at the Many Glacier entrance and along to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. We do a little bit of the Swiftcurrent Lake nature trail, which is very scenic, but don't see any animals. A ranger has set up a scope at the Inn to scan the mountain side. She can't find anything apart from a few goats. It's getting really cold and late, so we decide to get back. As we leave on the road to the entrance, Rich spots a bear in the road; it looked like a young grizzly.

 

Avalanche Lake


On our last day in Glacier, which has proven to be a stunning area, we're up early to a cloudy morning. There's a ranger walk on at 9am up the 4.5 mile Avalanche Lake Trail so we whizz up there in the car with our boots, coats and rain gear. About 12 of us set off with the ranger along the rushing Avalanche Creek that has carved a wonderful gorge through the red rocks. She tells us about the 20 different tree varieties in this area which is unique to this part of the USA. She also explains how the layered rocks were formed in the park and why people come from all over to see the ancient stone that has been exposed. As we climb towards the lake the sun comes out and we get to see the turquoise water with the waterfalls in the background. It's really beautiful.

 

Bozeman


On our way to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming we have an overnight visit to Bozeman. We have quite a long journey from Glacier but it's a beautiful day and no effort at all to drive through the valleys. Main Street in Bozeman is having some sort of SummerFest and half the road is closed off. We decide to hit a bar and get some food so we wander in to Bacchus Bar. We get chatting to Kevin and Mike at the bar over fish and chips and burgers. The owner wanted to open somewhere with a good locals pub atmosphere. They certainly have. It's fun. This town is somewhere we could have easily spent a few days.