Tripping over Grand Teton National Park!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Visiting Grand Teton National Park Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Visiting Grand Teton National Park Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

When we visited Yellowstone in 2004 on our last grand road trip, we had hoped to visit the Grand Teton National Park via Yellowstone and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. But we were stopped by a snowstorm that October. So when making our plans this time we decided to head there after our time in Glacier National Park. It was hard to leave Glacier but the season was coming to an end, they were in process of closing for the winter. The drive to the Grand Teton was our transition from one park to another. We made a stop in Idaho Falls and replaced my daypack as I had blown out a shoulder strap and the duck tape was irritating without wearing lot of clothes for padding.

Idaho Falls was a nice surprise. We were able to pick up some more information about other National Parks nearby along with the Grand Teton. The Idaho Falls River Walk added a great an urban hike to our experience. Part of what made it fun was the benches that lined the path were all created by different artists each depicting a different theme, everything from a big Idaho potato to a horse. The views of the Great Snake River and Falls were terrific.

Having dinner and watching the sunset on Jenny Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Having dinner and watching the sunset on Jenny Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

After such a calming exit we were unprepared for the chaos of Jackson Hole! It was overcrowded and insane to drive through. We stopped near the park entrance to gain some information about camping in the park after visiting a gravel parking lot that was suppose to be a campground! We had to ask a couple of times about camping as we got some confusing reports but in the end a female ranger helped us out.

Our first night we camped at Jenny Lake campground. It was crowded and the bathrooms were not well maintained by the campground host. So even though the view was terrific, the next morning we drove over to Colter Bay to check out their campground. It was a designated as a RV park with electrical hook ups but no options for a campfire so we decided to look further. We finally found, Signal Mountain Campground on Jackson Lake and really liked the facilities. They had a convenience store, gas station, restaurants, marina and gift store. But we were most interested in good bathrooms that were clean. After we had camping sorted out then we could settle into enjoying the Grand Teton’s.

The marina at Colter Bay. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The marina at Colter Bay. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

It was the last week for The Indian Arts Museum to be open in the park. It would be closing and no specific time was in place to replace the museum. The museum had an incredible collection that had been given to the Park by David T. Vernon. We felt very formulate to see so much of the collection. While we were in the park we went to a couple of the ranger talks about the museum collection and visited the resident artist, DG House, we loved her art work and decided to purchase two small prints for our home and one for a friend. (The Visitor Center at Colter Bay has been remodeled since our trip and 35 of the over 1500 artifacts from the Vernon collection are on display currently).

Ranger hike Eileen and Jelane. Photo by Ranger Molly

Ranger hike Eileen and Jelane. Photo by Ranger Molly

The Grand Teton National Park follows the mountain range and has several lakes within the park. We loved driving the length of the park and observing the range from several angles. We became Junior Park Rangers. At this park they opened the program to everyone regardless of age. During our Ranger Hike (Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point), Ranger Molly encouraged us to become a Junior Ranger, she joked “The best and least expensive souvenir in the park!”

She was right, for $2.00 we tested our park knowledge, received a patch and a badge along with pledging to respect and appreciate the park. It was great fun and we enjoyed completing the work sheet. It gave us a chance to focus in on some areas of the park we knew the least and prompted us to check out more. They told us their oldest Junior Ranger was in his 90’s.

Jackson Lake beach at Signal Mountain. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Jackson Lake beach at Signal Mountain. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of the things we loved about the campground we stayed in was slipping down from our site to Jackson Lake, watching the sunset. I took a ton of photos, playing with the light and walking the beach. The Lake is the largest in the park.

We took several hikes and visited String Lake and Leigh Lake. A unique thing about the park was that they had multiple signs up with hikes listed so you could use them as markers to where you were. But they missed placing “you are here” marks so that several times we got a bit confused as to where we were on the trails and some of the maps were truncated so it was good that we had a complete map from the visitor center. Several times we helped other lost hikers find their way. It was easy to get turned around.

Hike to Phelps Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hike to Phelps Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

One of the other trips we made was to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve. The Preserve is just inside the park. It feels like it is outside the park but it is a separate space along Phelps Lake. There is limited access allowed, so only when a parking space opens can a new group of travelers enter the park. This keeps the area from becoming overcrowded and guarantee’s a certain level of solitude. We hiked the Lake Creek and Woodland Trail Loop. It was a lovely moderate hike of 2.9 miles and it allowed us time since it was late in the day when we visited, to enjoy a hike and spend time in the Visitor Center and library with comfy leather chairs.

Once we got beyond Jackson Hole and into the park, we fell in love with the Grand Teton’s. Our time again was too short and we would have loved more time to explore. The combination of the mountains as a backdrop to the lakes and the open view of the range were once again awe-inspiring. What a gift that I, an average citizen can venture into such beauty that in many places in the world only the rich can partake. Mother Nature!

Hike at String and Leigh Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hike at String and Leigh Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Bryce Canyon National Park – An orange experience!

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Red, orange and white, another view of Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Red, orange and white, another view of Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

In 2004 when we were in Cedar City, Utah we tried to drive to Bryce Canyon National Park but our VW Vanagon would not have it (too much snow and the engine overheated). A couple of days after that aborted trip, the engine blew in the VW so it was probably good thing we did not make it that far. So when we were again in Cedar City, Utah this time with our GTRV, we knew that we wanted to try again to make it to Bryce Canyon.

It was fall and the leaves were changing colors. The drive was pretty and the air had that special combination of warmth and crispness to it. At some point about halfway to Bryce we drove through a large grove of Aspen tree’s that encircled both sides of the road. The leaves had all changed to orange and it was like driving through flames as we were engulfed. The drive was a precursor to the red orange hoodoos and canyons we would experience at Bryce Canyon. This park was one of the smaller parks we visited, at just under 60 acres.

Hoodoos on the path in Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Hoodoos on the path in Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The campground was near the park visitor center, which gave us easy access to the shuttle. Luckily during our visit the shuttle bus system was still running so we took full advantage the first day to ride the length of the bus route, which gave us a great overview of the main section of the park where we would spend our time. We had wanted to take the shuttle out to Rainbow Point but we had no luck getting a spot. (Maybe at another time in the future it will be on our list). The trip out to Rainbow Point according to our book was a half-day, so we decided to enjoy our time in the main area, since we knew we would not have a full week in the park.

Eileen as we hiked the rim. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen as we hiked the rim. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Our ideal campsite was usually near the restrooms, since we do not carry a toilet with us. At the campground this was a challenge since many of the bathhouses were being renovated. The terrain in the campground was also a bit of a challenge as Abbey does not have hydraulic jacks to level her out and we have not found leveling blocks that don’t hog lots of space. It can be tricky to find a spot that we aren’t lopsided, which can make sleeping and day-to-day living in Abbey awkward. With some hunting we found a workable campsite.

One thing we liked about Bryce was that we could move pretty easily from the rim where you can look down into this forest of red orange hoodoos that make up the amphitheater of the canyon into the canyon itself and walk amongst the hoodoos and see them towering above you. Unlike when we visited the Grand Canyon where accessing the canyon floor was more difficult, Bryce’s terrain offers more options. One of the hikes we took a couple of times was along the rim trail from the lodge complex back to our campground. The view of the amphitheater was awesome.

Looking up at Hoodoos at Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Looking up at Hoodoos at Bryce. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The lodge complex included the lodge, a general store off to the side in a separate building with the showers and laundry for campers. There was also a small pizza shop in another little out building. One afternoon, when we need down time to do laundry (and because I was not feeling well), we also took showers and hung out on the porch of the lodge to write post cards. The lodge was the only hotel in the park. It was built in the 1920s with local stone and timber. It was one of the smaller lodges that we have visited in some of the western National Parks. A couple of times we took advantage of the pizza shop for dinner and walked back to our campsite, it was a nice evening event that broke up our usual camping fare.

Jelane hiking in the Canyon. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane hiking in the Canyon. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We went to an interesting ranger talk where we learned about how the amphitheater below in the canyon was formed and we learned about the weather on the rim. We were warned about how quick and dramatic storms could be. The ranger shared with us to be alert for sudden afternoon storms and warned us to stay away from the rim during thunderstorms because of the lightening. She spoke with us about casualties, which had occurred in the park.

Hiking down into the canyon was amazing; we did two shorter hikes, Navajo Loop Trail and Queen’s Garden Trail. Walking down into the canyon required hiking down multiple switchbacks to the floor. We were then immersed in the orange glow of the canyon and loved exploring the rock formations that we were in, out and around. Looking up and seeing the amazing hoodoos and cliffs above us, took my breath away. Of course what comes down (lots of switchbacks) must go up and by the end of the day climbing out of the canyon was a bit strenuous, we were tired but a good tired.

There was so much to see, again another place we could have stayed for several more days. But it was time to move on. Each park is so awe-inspiring! I am constantly amazed and humbled by the beauty.

One the trail in Bryce. Photos by Jelane A. Kennedy

One the trail in Bryce. Photos by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Autumn Equinox 2016 – Photo Essay

By Jelane A. Kennedy

It is hard to believe that today is the first day of fall. This year we have had a lengthen summer with hot, humid temperatures lasting through August into September.

In celebration of summer please enjoy some photos as a reminder of that time of the year as we move our way into fall and winter.

When I think Lean-To’s, I think Adirondacks, Abbey hanging out with a lean-to.

Mixed mode camping. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Mixed mode camping. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Cooking out on an open fire

Eileen's fire going strong as Jelane preps food. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Eileen’s fire going strong as Jelane preps food. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Watching the Loons.

Jelane enjoying the loons. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran.

Jelane enjoying the loons. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran.

Crazy little cars – Speedies on the Railway.

Unexpected surprise while checking out the Train Depot at Tupper Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Unexpected surprise while checking out the Train Depot at Tupper Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

A gazebo on the lake, what’s not to love.

Even moody days have their charm, Eileen watching the water. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Even moody days have their charm, Eileen watching the water. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Inflatable kayaks, fun lightweight and fast to get ready.

Ironic-Inflatables. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Ironic-Inflatables. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Full Moon of July

Something special about a full moon kayak, Eileen enjoying the night. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Something special about a full moon kayak, Eileen enjoying the night. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Sunset on Little Wolf Pond.

End of summer camping trip. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

End of summer camping trip. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

 

© 2016 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen McFerran

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Hiking in Glacier National Park

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen Hiking St. Mary's Falls trail

Eileen Hiking St. Mary’s Falls trail

The three biggest hikes we took while visiting Glacier National Park required some planning but were well worth the effort. First was St. Mary and Virginia Falls. We started the day dressed in multiple layers with our wool sweaters on top and as the hike progressed we slowly worked our way down to lightweight breathable shirts and zipping off our pant legs so we were in shorts. This became the pattern everyday. It was possible to break this hike down into a shorter hike but we decided we wanted to see all the falls, so we did the round-trip of 3.6 miles. In total we saw five falls that day and it was a specular hike. Each falls were unique and motivated us to continue on to see the next. Plus with the falls being in a series as we hike back out we got to revisit each falls, which felt like an extra special bonus.

Before starting the hike we met a woman on the bus who had done the St. Mary and Virginia Falls hike before. She gave us some tips on finding the trailhead and about a small side trail that took us up to the top of Virginia Falls. The small trail took us to the edge so you could see over as the water crashed down. Eileen commented: “What a great place to take a few yoga breaths, smell the balsam and feel the mist off the falls.”

Snow in August! Eileen on Hidden Lake Trail. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Snow in August! Eileen on Hidden Lake Trail. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

The second big hike was Hidden Lake. We had planned to go all the way to the Lake, 6 miles round-trip. The day started out chaotic and we couldn’t seem to get going so by the time we got the bus we wondered if we would make it to the lake at all. Once we got to the trailhead we discovered that the trail was closed to the Lake and we would only be able to go to the Overlook, 3 miles round-trip.

“I guess that takes the pressure off”, I said.

“Yeah, what a reminder, go with the flow and try not to push it” Eileen responded.

The trail was busy with lots of folks stopping at Logan Pass Visitor Center. The first part of the trail was a boardwalk. Which sounds simple but at times it was weird to walk on especially coming back as the angle would occasionally pitch me forward taking me a bit off balance especially now that I wear progressive lens in my glasses. I think the boardwalk was for crowd control and to keep people from trampling the delicate vegetation. There were wild flowers everywhere and signs of fall via the snow bank from a recent storm.

"Hey can I have a bit of your sandwich" Mountain Goats. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

“Hey can I have a bit of your sandwich” Mountain Goats. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Near the overlook we found a quiet spot to pull out our lunch and just look over the beautiful lake. It wasn’t long before we had some company.

“Hey Eileen, look carefully over your shoulder, you have a mountain goat eyeing your lunch! Careful now, here is the camera.”

What great shots she got of the two mountain goats and an added bonus to our experience.

Participating in a ranger lead activity is always a high point for us when we visit a national park. So we spent time reviewing all the activities being offered as listed in the Park newspaper. Too many to choose from! Ultimately we decided on the ranger led hike to Grinnell Glacier and later a walking tour of the lodge at Many Glaciers.

The group on our hike to the Glacier. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

The group on our hike to the Glacier. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

The day before we met a nice couple Pam and Joe who encourage us to sign-up for the hike. We had thought we would stay at the Many Glaciers campground but after checking it out and finding it noisy and the bathrooms needing to be cleaned, we went back to the KOA. So the morning of the hike we were rushed. Our plan was to be out of the campground by 7:30 am so we could make the drive back to Many Glaciers. We barely made it down to the dock in time and we didn’t see our new friends until after we had disembarked from our second of two boat rides to the main trailhead. Yes I said two boat rides, the hike started from the dock in from of the Many Glaciers lodge. We hopped on the boat, crossed the lake and then hiked a short half-mile trail to the next boat dock and hopped on another boat that took us to the trailhead. This was a new experience for us!

We had a great time hiking with Pam and Joe. I have no idea how many miles we hiked that day, I do know we hike from morning until dinnertime. As we finished the hike we also finished all our water that we had taken with us. Through out the hike to the Glacier the Ranger did several mini-talks that help us understand from a on the ground way the impact of global warming. On the way back the hike went faster as the ranger did not led us back with talks, we just all headed for the boats making sure to not miss our connections.

It would have been great to do all 28 hikes in our book, but it just wasn’t possible for us. We had a great time, great memories and some awesome photographs. And the beauty we encountered once again inspired us.

Jelane on the trail to Hidden Lake. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane on the trail to Hidden Lake. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

© 2016 Jelane A. Kennedy and Eileen A. McFerran

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Nature trails and activities at Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Dramatic moments seen from KOA in St. Mary's, Montana

Dramatic moments seen from KOA in St. Mary’s, Montana. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

There are lots and lots of hikes in Glacier National Park. From easy, day hikes to back country adventures. We decided when we arrived that we would take advantage of the easy day hikes, as Lucy our golden retriever had taught us, it’s not how hard, how high or long you hike, it is about getting out there and being in and with nature. Enjoying the beauty all around us, and being together sharing the experience was our aim.

Being in high altitude atmosphere it was important to take care of our bodies, hydrating and being respectful of our selves and our energy was part of the plan. After our first day taking the bus over the Going to the Sun Road and getting acquainted with the area we decide to add to our resources that we had picked up from the park rangers (maps and newspaper) and to pick up the Falcon Guide on “Best Easy Day Hikes Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks”. For the rest of our time we would use the guide to help plot our hiking.

As luck would have it the Saint Mary’s Visitor Center near us had just had a huge up date on their educational displays. They had added an amazing interactive display discussing the relationship of the park with the area Tribes and the significance of the park to the local Tribes. What an incredible resource and a must see experience. We learned so much! The interviews were very poignant. We were so glad that Saint Mary’s Visitor Center ended up being our base camp for the park. Many folks use West Glacier and may miss out on Saint Mary’s.

Eileen hanging out inside a tree while on the Trail of Cedars

Eileen hanging out inside a tree while on the Trail of Cedars. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Our first hike was Trail of the Cedars; it was a loop hike that was 0.7 miles long. The trail was wheelchair accessible. This was a hike we took the day we rode the buses over the Going to the Sun Road. It was also one of the last hikes we did on our last day. It was a short lovely nature walk through what we called the ancients. We loved walking among these old Red Cedar and Black Cottonwood trees.

“What do you think they would say to us if they could speak our language?” asked Eileen

We could not get over how large the trees were and how stately they felt. Walking mostly in silence seemed respectful as though we were walking through a church.

The view from Sun Point of St. Mary's Lake

The view from Sun Point of St. Mary’s Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Another trail we hiked more than once was the Sun Point Nature Trail; with a magnificent view of St. Mary’s lake and the sundial like marker that helped to identify the mountains around the lake. The trail was a 1.3 mile round-trip. Standing out on the rocks and watching the sun play over the mountains and lake was a treat! We also saw Baring Falls as part of this hike, it was great and Eileen found a little side trail that took us down to the rocky lake beach, where we sat in silence just listening on one occasion.

One other small hike included Swiftcurrent Nature Trail in the Many Glaciers section of the park. It was a simple trail around the lake, quiet and relatively flat, 2.5 miles. My guess would be that many serious hikers would skip this trail but the views of the mountains and the play of the reflections on the lake especially on low wind day was just amazing. We ended up over at the Many Glaciers area multiple times, twice for hikes and another for a day of rest. On the day of rest we sat out on the huge porch overlooking the lake and read, wrote and I took pictures. The morning we were there for our rest day, the water was still and the reflections of the mountains onto the lake were amazing. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. That was also the day we did the guided ranger tour of the Lodge. I could write a whole other blog post about the lodges we visited at Glacier and Waterton Lakes, but that will have to be another time.

Eileen at the shore of Avalanche Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen at the shore of Avalanche Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Probably the only two trails that were our least favorite were Avalanche Lake and Cameron Lake in Waterton. The guidebook warns that the Avalanche Lake trail was a favorite and so it could be busy. And it was a bit busy that day with a school group. But maybe it was the overcast weather or the loudness of the group, but this hike really excited neither of us. The book talked about the “specular destination” but I think we had been so wowed by Lake MacDonald, St. Mary’s Lake, and Swiftcurrent Lake, it was a disappointment. The best part of the hike was the gorge and the falls we saw. The hike was relatively flat for the 4.6 miles and the school group had a student in a wheelchair with them. The best part of this hike was revisiting parts of the Trail of Cedars for us.

Near the end of our time at St. Mary’s and before we went over to West Glacier we decided we need to visit Waterton in Canada. Glacier and Waterton were a joint park, the first international peace park, so we thought we should take our passports in hand and take a visit. We decided for a hike to head out to Cameron Lake, the hike was 2.2 miles round-trip. It had been suggested to us by one of the owners of the KOA where we were camping. I think the big thing we felt overall was that all seemed too commercial for us in town and at the lake with all the boaters and the facilities that were lacking. We were underwhelmed after being at Glacier. The best part of the trip to Waterton was the view from the Prince of Wales hotel that was amazing. Too bad there was not any patio furniture out so people could just sit and watch the lake. Eileen found a concrete block to sit on as she gazed at the Lake that day. I got a couple of good pictures of her there.

While in town we stumbled across a peace pavilion that had been sponsored by Rotary International and we enjoyed walking through it. Overall we were glad we went but probably on a return trip to Glacier we would by-pass going. But it was worth the effort.

In my next post I will talk about the longer hikes we took at Glacier and end the visit to this park.

 

Boats on the dock at Many Glaciers. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Boats on the dock at Many Glaciers. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen McFerran

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Photo Essay: Summer Solstice 2016

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Sometimes I think the move from Spring to Summer is probably the hardest move for me. It probably has to do with how erratic the weather can feel, from cold with snow to hot and humid. It’s hard to figure out what to wear and what to have with you! Maybe it is the endings and the beginnings all bunched together.

We have not taken many photos this Spring it seems like the mad rush to the end of the school year and all has added to what seems like a blur of time and place.

The first Photo of the tree, gives a sense of how things can be in transition.

Transition Photo by Eileen McFerran

Transition Photo by Eileen McFerran

This second photo is of one of my favorite Spring flowers: Lilacs, they remind me that winter is truly over.

Sweet smell. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Sweet smell. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Boats on the water, a day in the sun.

Summer is near -Lobster Boats

Summer is near -Lobster Boats Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Kite boarding, the joy of water, sun and wind.

Spring - not yet warm but oh so tempting! Kite boarding. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Spring – not yet warm but oh so tempting! Kite boarding. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Finally the Spring garden readying for the summer bloom.

Eileen in the garden preparing for summer blooms. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen in the garden preparing for summer blooms. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

© 2016 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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Prepping for Glacier National Park.

By Jelane A. Kennedy

Someone kindly took this photo of Eileen and I on our first hike (me on left and Eileen on the right). Photo by unknown

Someone kindly took this photo of Eileen and I on our first hike (me on left and Eileen on the right). Photo by unknown

Glacier National Park is in a remote location in Montana and the park extends over the Canadian border, making it a joint Park with Canada (yes you need your passport). One the best things we did before our arrival to Glacier National Park was making a stop in Cut Bank, Montana at the grocery store. With the Park being so remote it was a good plan as campers to consider that there might be a lack of strong grocery store resources. When we arrived we did not know how long we would stay. We ended up spending just over 2 weeks total in Glacier. If you are only planning a short trip it may not make much of an impact on your plans but if you are a bit more nomadic, like us, it may help to stock up before arrival, we found this was in our best interest with many of the National Parks, they are usually in wilderness areas. With our camper van we don’t have a lot of room but when we stopped to stock up we thought about what would make our stay the easiest for us, simple meals, lunches to for the trail, etc.

Abbey parked in our campsite at St. Mary's KOA. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Abbey parked in our campsite at St. Mary’s KOA. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

On a couple of days when we stayed put to rest: get caught up on laundry, plan our next big hike, download photos, write post cards, along with emails, we would pull out our little crock pot and make soup. We both love homemade soup and when it is cold out, for us it can be a great comfort food. It was hard to imagine we would see snow at the end of August early September, so hot soup was just the ticket.

At the park we did try going to the Park grocery store and found it a bit on the wanting side. It seemed like it was in a state of being ready to close. This may be because we were at the Park during the last few weeks (end of August until Mid-September). We did find out that making stops here and there at local general stores many times helped to just top off our supplies. Prices at times were a bit more, so we were careful.

Eileen just enjoying the view. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen just enjoying the view. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Also during our stay we visited the IGA in Browning, Montana a couple of times. It is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. We couldn’t find some of the fresh vegetables we wanted. The store was like a small local mom and pop place with some variety. It was more similar to area grocery stores in Albany that are marked by high poverty with their limited stock and more processed foods. These stops gave us a better appreciation of the hard life in that area for the Native American population as this was their only grocery store. The others were much further away.

When considering packing for Glacier it was important to think four seasons. We were glad we had our long underwear with us and a wool sweater apiece. Most days we would start out in our sweaters and slowly throughout the day begin to peel down. An average morning might start with long underwear under my zip off pants, and a basic shirt short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweater. We also carried a rain jacket in our packets and a polar fleece vest. One evening we each pulled out down vests while we were working on laundry. We have gotten into a habit of packing a light winter jacket that we can zip into our other mid weight raincoats along with having a neck gaiter, hat, and mittens.

Jelane hanging out having a snack. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane hanging out having a snack. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

We had two different daypacks with us. One was a smaller packable daypack that we might take when we were visiting a park and doing a short day of hikes of an hour or two. But most of the time we had our larger Kelty daypacks (until mine blew out a shoulder strap and I had to replace my pack) that had padded back, padded straps and could hold our varying clothing gear, a pack lunch, water, first aid kit and maps/guide book for hiking. The first majoring hiking day was the hardest, trying to make sure we had what we wanted in our packs and getting them set-up with our basic gear. When we were at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we had used our packable daypacks so we had not set-up our big packs. But once we got it all straightened out, we were set for the duration of our stay.

There are two locations that people usually arrive and enter Glacier National Park. One is through St. Mary and the other is West Glacier. There are two main visitor centers one on each end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road (St. Mary Visitor Center and Apgar Visitor Center) and another in the middle (Logan Visitor Center). For traveling in the park we relied on the buses that took us from St. Mary’s visitor center to West Glacier via the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We were able to plan many hikes by using the bus service. The visitor center at St. Mary’s is a must see, they had just installed a new interactive display about the relationship with the Native American tribes in the area. We saw all the movie clips, it was really well done, the other two Logan and Apgar weren’t as impressive.

Jelane watching the mountains. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

Jelane watching the mountains. Photo by Eileen A. McFerran

When we went to Many Glacier’s another section of the park we did have to drive. We loved Many Glacier and went back several times. We checked out the campground there but decided that we were better off at the KOA. It was less rowdy and cleaner, we have not always had great luck with the campgrounds in the Parks, and they seem to vary a lot. We have found though that having a fan with us helps with dealing with the noise from loud campers. The white noise that was created by our ceramic heater fan was great along with the battery operated little fans we have. We carry the ceramic heater for back up to our propane furnace and when we have electricity it works great to take the chill off, which we needed many a morning while at Glacier.

Eileen on our ice cream break at McDonald Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

Eileen on our ice cream break at McDonald Lake. Photo by Jelane A. Kennedy

We also stopped in to East Glacier to see the big lodge there. Amtrak makes a stop at East Glacier. The lodge was impressive and we did enjoy reading some of the displays in the lobby area. Our trip also included a drive up to Waterton Park in Canada. We were glad we went but we found it a bit too commercial for us. The only section of the park we had planned to visit but did not get to was Two Medicine.

In my next post about Glacier I will talk more about our hiking. I decided with this post it would be good to give you a heads up about weather and being prepared for anything. The day we arrived in Glacier at the KOA the Going to the Sun road was closed because of a snowstorm. The next morning we hopped the first bus headed over the Going to the Sun road, it was the first morning in a week that it was passable and not socked in with snow or fog. What a spectacular ride we had. We were so glad that first day to go from one end to the other and back, it gave us the lay of the land as did picking up a Falcon guide to hiking trails. Glacier was so full of surprises for us; we were touched and overwhelmed by scenery.

Us at Sun Point, Jelane on the right and Eileen on the Left. Taken by an unknown person.

Us at Sun Point, Jelane on the right and Eileen on the Left. Taken by an unknown person.

© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran

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