Glacier National Park -- June 2019

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chandlerwest

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Feb 7, 2015
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420
It is June so it is time for chandlerwest to make their way to Glacier. This week was special because we had a guest. 1985 was my first of three consecutive summers that I was Night Auditor at the lodges in the park. Kurt was my roommate that year. He was also my Night Security Officer (freakin' 19 year old kid), tender of the lodge fireplace (taking great pride in keeping that fire burning), fetcher of the midnight dinner (usually "Beaks and Feet"....a shredded chicken sandwich meat glob.) We worked all night and hiked during the day. Hundreds of miles we covered!!! Being an avid hunter, Kurt messed with our usual diet of pizza and tator tots. He had an industrial cooler full of venison and elk. Each meal began with "what is this and where did it come from." We ate like Kings! Two types of brats. Two types of summer sausage. Six flipping pound of cheese (he is from Wisconsin, after all). And some venison lunch meat that made our trail lunches the best meal of the day.

Lake McDonald Lodge was our office in 1985
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It rained the first day so we got out of the cabin slowly and headed for the McDonald Valley with no real objective. It all depended on just how wet we wanted to get. We hung out at the lodge (home in '85) for awhile then headed up the road toward Trail of the Cedars. After eating lunch in the car I proclaimed that "I am going to walk the loop, at the very least." Then we got where the trail climbed above Avalanche Gorge and I said "I have to run up here." Then we walked along the creek for awhile in drizzle and Kurt says "now that I am moving I am up for going to the lake". Not knowing if we would even see anything at the lake, due to the low clouds we found ourselves heading to the lake. Avalanche Lake never disappoints.
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We then made our way back down the trail for some walking along McDonald Creek. We could have gotten SO much wetter.
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On day 2 Jeff and I completed a project we started last June. Hiking the closed section of the Inside North Fork Road. We tackled the northern half this week. This hike is all about the wildflowers and the forest. Due to hap hazard forest fires over the centuries this section of the park has an ever changing forest. Such a variety in the make up of the view. We discovered immediately that we were too early for the wildflower bloom. We still saw our share but nothing compared to last June.
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This Ponderosa grove look like it could have been a park with benches.
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Due to recent rain we had plenty of footprints to figure out. The first one is a bear. The next is a cat....I believe. (Maybe canine) The 3rd are the prints of bear definitely on patrol of its roadway.
We also saw canine prints that we hoped were wolves (or maybe a cat).

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This was a fascinating stretch of creek which had all the downfall across it.
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Part of our motivation for doing this road walk was to find out Why it was closed. There is a section north of Anaconda Creek were the creek and road seem to be in conflict, so we can see why the park system decided to throw up there arms and say "enough....let bikers, runners and hikers have this section." We have not seen another person on this road in our two days hiking it.

A slow moving water course just off the road. On the other side was a fast moving water course.
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The rocks of Anaconda Creek. Our turn around point.
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We came upon this bruin. It freaked us out a bit because it didn't immediately sprint off. I don't think I have had a bear stare us down as long as this one did. I took comfort that I had a professional bear spray slinger with us. Kurt had a career in the prison system were he taught the use of mace. Even after it walked into the forest he stayed and watched us go by. Pretty cool encounter.
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We ended the day going back to Covey Meadow. Last year it was a field of wildflowers. This year it was dandelions in its puff stage. The fickle whims of moisture, snow and temperatur. But the mountains and trees still pop!
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We drove over to the foot of McDonald Lake before going back to the cabin. I have taken in this view so often it might as well be on my living room wall......oh wait, it is.
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Day 3 finds us heading for the high country. When Kurt said that he had never been to Scenic Point it moved to the top of our hike list.
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Jeff's most recent interest are birds. He can't see or hear a bird without trying to identify it. I saw this flock of birds sitting in a trail side tree and whisper shouted back to Jeff. He says they are Cedar Waxwings.
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Being a hunter Kurt was hoping to see Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats. He had his binoculars, scouring the hillsides. His count for the day was 23 sheep. He said that this was a Holy Grail day for him.
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Kurt and I with Rising Wolf Mountain. It was great to get him to places he had yet to experience. Fill in some of his trail gaps.
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Arriving at the saddle we met the snow field that blocks that trail in June. Jeff was fine with ending it here but Kurt wanted to push on to Scenic Point so he and I went up and around the field and made our way across the, seemingly barren, windswept alpine environment. But with alpine flowers it is far from barren.
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This is a photo taken by Jeff showing us on Scenic Point. It was extremely windy out there. As I stepped onto the highest point I was hit by a wind blast that rocked me back 3 steps. (Blow you off the mountain crap). I immediately sat down and road it out. Probably mumbling to myself as I work my way through a PTSD moment from last years attempt on Otokomi Mountain. I worked my way off this point and got photos of the surrounding area.

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Jeff in his hunkering down spot. Middle left.
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I would like to take credit for having this sheep's attention but it was probably the ram behind me that it is looking at. Then I Have to have a marmot sitting on its rock.

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I had told Kurt that he needed to protect time for him to fish. Not to let us fill the schedule with hiking. So while going to the Two Medicine Campstore, and having their help yourself Huckleberry Soft Service ice cream, he decided to go fishing. I assured him that we had a small hike we could do. Jeff and discussed if we should tell him that we saw a beaver in a pond and the moose. He really wanted to see a moose.

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Being early for our normal wildflower bloom we lucked into seeing Shooting Stars in their full glory. We had nice Glacier Lilies also. Aster Falls.
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We figure that while this tree was falling it was spun around.
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Enjoying the lighting of Two Medicine Lake
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Kurt had hiked out to Paradise Point. Using his waders and float tube he fished the outlet of a couple streams and then floated back to the parking lot. We dined on Lake and Brook Trout this night!!!!!
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Day 4 took us to Lee's Ridge. The trailhead is near the Canadian Border. We had done this three years ago. We set up the hike as, "a walk in the forest then it breaks out with views at the end." On the drive up I felt a need to expand. "It IS a 4 mile walk in the forest", so Kurt was prepared for those two hours. I absolutely love this walk in the forest. Early morning light. Easy terrain. The history the forest was telling us was that it had equally burnt down a century ago so it has this very uniform appearance today.
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Finally breaking out of the forest.
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Jeff's shot of a Clark's Nutcracker. He was sorta giddy.
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With a smile on his face Kurt proclaimed, "I never envisioned it would be like this." I am just going to let the pictures speak for awhile.
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From the highest point we could see the Gable Pass Trail heading off to the west toward Belly River. Kurt, thinking that from the edge there would be an interesting drop off into a drainage that was worth the additional effort. This was not the case. It simply lead to an additional square mile of high alpine PLUS you got a view of the Belly River Valley. An honest to gosh river valley in Glacier National Park. The only one that presents as a traditional river valley. I was positively delighted. We could see the Belly River winding up into Canada for miles.
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Let's have another quiet interlude as we doopty doo our way back to the car. I sort of fell behind in the 2nd shot. With a couple shots of the backside of Chief Mountain. I love this trail.
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Day 5 was our last day together as Kurt needed to get back home. We all were fine with a slower day. As Jeff and I say "days accumulate." Once I found out that Kurt hadn't been to Virginia Falls I Knew that was where we were going. So off to St. Mary Valley we go.
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It was good to check in on the shoreline which burnt in a 2015 fire. After a few days, the wildflowers were starting to come in more
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St. Mary Falls
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Making our way up to Virginia Falls there are numerous cascades. Kurt asked, "is this it?" I smiled and said no. When we arrived we had the place to ourselves. No waiting for people to move, no cropping people out, no rushing to get out of others way. It was pure bliss as I got as close as I could and got pounded by the mist. Kurt just smiled his appreciation at being there.
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Just how many Indian Paintbrush photo's have I taken over the decades?
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Mt. Jackson. Out of my peripherals I caught the 2nd shot. We must have looked silly standing in the turnoff staring at the sun.
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Sixth and final day. When Kurt left that morning he was still debating doing some fishing before he headed east. So Jeff and I were not surprised to see his truck in the Two Medicine Lake lot.
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Kurt had chastised me for not giving mushrooms their due. This tiny grouping made it impossible to walk past.
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I want to point out all of the little False Hellebore in this shot. 12ish.
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We hiked to Rockwell Falls. This is a complex of cascades that drop approximately 200 feet. We had been there in August (when the wildflowers were blooming) and were curious to see it during the June runoff. A climbers trail provides access to all the levels.
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Jeff a level above me.
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Me, a level above Jeff.
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We came off the trail and in unison said "Hey there's Kurt."
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We had the opportunity for a 3rd visit to the Campstore for Huckleberry soft serve before we parted company.
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See you in August for the continuing story of chandlerwest in Glacier.
 
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Outdoor_Fool

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Dec 11, 2015
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Nice set of photos, thanks for sharing! Looks like a great trip! Nice photo of the black bear.

FYI, the second set of tracks are canid, probably wolf but without any scale with them, hard to be certain.
 

chandlerwest

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Feb 7, 2015
Messages
420
Nice set of photos, thanks for sharing! Looks like a great trip! Nice photo of the black bear.

FYI, the second set of tracks are canid, probably wolf but without any scale with them, hard to be certain.
Nice set of photos, thanks for sharing! Looks like a great trip! Nice photo of the black bear.

FYI, the second set of tracks are canid, probably wolf but without any scale with them, hard to be certain.
I hesitated identifying them. Jeff the other night said canine. Then I saw something on TV which got me even more uncertain.
 

Titans

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Aug 18, 2018
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Awesome, I always love your TRs. Amazing views, stellar lake reflections and you can almost hear the water roaring through the creeks.... and that’s some fine looking trout, yummy. How often have you seen the 22 degree halo around the sun? (We saw it for the first time in southern Utah last winter, super cool.)
 
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chandlerwest

Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2015
Messages
420
Awesome, I always love your TRs. Amazing views, stellar lake reflections and you can almost hear the water roaring through the creeks.... and that’s some fine looking trout, yummy. How often have you seen the 22 degree halo around the sun? (We saw it for the first time in southern Utah last winter, super cool.)
I believe it was my first time. I drug the other two out of the car to see it.
 

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Janice

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Dec 5, 2017
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Spectacular! Love the variety of photos - far off mountains and lakes, close up flowers and leaves, waterfalls, forests, etc. Wow! And I remember that wind at the top of Scenic Point!
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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Nice, beautifully photographed, as usual.

You didn't drag Scott out? Where is he working this summer?
 

Mikjik86

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Apr 22, 2018
Messages
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What an amazing read. Some of those pictures are unbelievable! June looks very wet and cold up there, yet a fantastic trip none-the-less.
 

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