Glacier National Park

July, 2007

This July we were visited by Hiro and his daughter Akiko. The family is from Urayasu City, near Tokyo in Japan. (Urayasu City is where the Japanese Disneyland is located; it is also where Gary helped NTT install an interactive television system.)

In 2004, Akiko was attending school in Michigan and she and her mother Akemi visited us that December when we showed them some Bozeman sights and booked them a winter tour of Yellowstone Park. This year, Akiko returned with her father to attend the wedding of a friend and they dropped by to see us on their return trip. Their stay from July 9 through 12 was short, so we did not see any local sights but took the long drive to Glacier National Park on the 10th. At right, Hiro and Akiko are pictured early on morning of the 11th at Many Glacier Lodge on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake.

The reason for our early morning arrival at Many Glacier was that there is a ranger-led hike starting with the 8:30 boat trip up Swiftcurrent Lake. We had a cabin at Saint Mary on the eastern edge of the park, so got up at 6am and drove to arrive at the Lodge extra early for breakfast before getting on the boat. At the end of Swiftcurrent Lake, there is a 0.2 mile hike to Lake Josephine, where another boat takes one further up the valley. From there, our hike to the Grinnell Glacier was an 8 mile round trip.

Unfortunately, we could not make it all the way to the glacier because of snow on the trail. At left, Hiro climbs up the steps through a trench a trail crew dug that morning. Shortly, we encountered the crew at another snow field, passed them and finally had to turn back at the next snow field. In spite of the late snow on the trail, the glaciers in the park are receding and there will probably be no more glaciers in 20 to 30 years.

On the way up and down, we had to pass a waterfall created by the melting snow above. One had the choice of going along the edge of the ledge and getting a little wet while risking a long fall, or going under the falls and suffering the near freezing water. At right, Pauline tried to split the difference.

Thankfully, the day was not as hot as previous days, but it was a warm sunny day, so Akiko decided to go under the falls. At left guide Ranger Rick greets her as she emerges from the falls [1.3MB movie].

Hiro and Akiko wanted to see a moose, so Gary kept a close watch on areas moose might congregate and managed to spot a moose cow and calf browsing on bushes at the stream far below us. We had to use a monocular to get a good view, but even at a distance, moose sightings are a treat.

Back at Lake Josephine, we had to wait about 1½ hours for a return boat. During that wait, Hiro and Akiko were given a fishing lesson by another park visitor. Hiro caught one fish, which he released. At right they can be seen fishing from the dock.

On Thursday the 12th, we took the Going to the Sun Road headed west. This year, the road was closed until July 5th because of damage from Spring snow and rain. On this road, there are many opportunities to stop and enjoy spectacular scenery.

The high point of the road is Logan Pass, where we stopped to take a short hike to get pictures of scenery and wildlife. There were plenty of marmots like the one at left, and a number of Bighorn Sheep like the two rams pictured at right. We were also treated to a couple of Mountain Goats right next to the road as we left Logan Pass.

After Logan Pass, we continued at a leisurely pace to Kalispell to drop Hiro and Akiko at the airport so they could catch a flight to Seattle with connections back to Japan.