Quick Trip to Glacier – July 20& 21, 2011

Last Wednesday afternoon, at the conclusion of our semi-annual family reunion, which was held this year at the Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake, a group of 17 family members, including my husband, my son and myself, headed north to the Flathead and Glacier National Park.  Following an obligatory lunch at Moose’s Pizza in Kalispell, a small subset of that group went into Glacier National Park for the evening.  As we’d be heading up Going to the Sun the following day, I guided the group up the North Fork on that evening. I was surprised and a bit dismayed, upon our arrival on the road leading into Polebridge, to see that several of the signs that I have chuckled over (but heeded!) in years past are no longer present, such as these:



Thankfully, the most important sign remains.


Another minor disappointment was the outhouse behind the Polebridge Mercantile. In years past it was a delightful outhouse. Truly.  It was clean, it had a nice seat, its “aroma” was as pleasant as is possible for a primitive outhouse, and, if you forgot to take reading material in with you, you could pull a book from the nicely book-lined shelf. If you didn’t want to leave the book behind, you could drop some cash in a jar and take the book with you. If you were there in years gone by, you know of what I speak.  It’s not that way anymore.  Well, the books are there — in a box, no longer shelved, and the jar is there, but it’s not the same. The state of the outhouse has declined severely. Yes, such things can disappoint me. I was afraid that my relatives would find it downright appalling, so I suggested they use the facilities at the bar, instead. I still dropped a couple bucks in the jar for the use of the facility. It is, after all, an expense for the Merc.

The bakery at the Polebridge Mercantile, however, did not disappoint. It was as wonderfully stocked with cookies and rolls as always. The kids left stocked with cookies and I left stocked with savory rolls.  The dinner hour was approaching and the picnic tables in front of the bar/restaurant were filling up.  I’ve heard good things but have not yet dined there.  That’s a lapse that will have to be remedied in the near future.

After our stop in Polebridge, we headed up to Big Prairie.  Big Prairie is the epitome of Big Sky Country — a wide open high country park with the Livingston Mountain Range as backdrop.

Big Prairie - Glacier National Park

We stopped near the McCarthy Homestead.

McCarthy Homestead

Can you imagine having this scene for a front yard?

Front Yard


The McCarthy Homestead Cabin is a remnant of early settlement in what would become Glacier National Park. Jeremiah McCarthy built the log homestead in the North Fork area in 1908 after completion of the North Fork Road and passage of the Forest Homestead Act.

The cabin is the only representative of pre-1910 homesteading activity on the west side of the Continental Divide in Glacier. During the 1930s a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was built nearby. At about the same time, the cabin, and others nearby, transitioned from homesteading inholdings to summer cabins for their owners. In the 1950s some of the CCC structures were relocated to the vicinity of the cabin. The National Park Service purchased the property in 1970.

source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthy_Homestead_Cabin

Time and the gas supply in one of the cars was running short, so we turned around after spending a bit of time in the vicinity of the McCarthy Homestead.  We didn’t make it up to Kintla or Bowman Lakes.  I’m thinking a trip to the lakes and dinner in Polebridge soon sounds like a great idea.

The following morning, 17 people in 5 cars headed into the Park.  As several people were interested in a hike and the trails further up the pass are still under several feet of snow, I had suggested a stop at Avalanche where those who were only interested in a short walk could do the Trail of the Cedars while those who wanted a longer hike could continue up to Avalanche Lake.  Along the way, some of the cars (including mine) made several stops along McDonald Creek.  When I was there last month, a cold wet spring was still holding court.  Summer has now arrived.

Summer on McDonald Creek

The trail up to Avalanche Lake starts at Avalanche Gorge and parallels the gorge for the first hundred yards or so.

Avalanch Gorge Along Trail

Once past the gorge, the trail passes through an old growth cedar and hemlock forest, littered with fallen trees (the shallow root system of those huge trees that is revealed when the trees are knocked over by wind always astounds me),  moss covered boulders, ferns and other moist forest loving plants.

I enjoyed the “ah!” moment when the cousins with whom I was hiking got their first look of Avalanche Lake.  Believe it or not, this was my first trip to Avalanche Lake as well.  I was even a bit relieved that the “prize” at the end of the trail was a good one.  It’s not that I was truly worried, having seen photos and whatnot, but…

First Peak

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the lake and some time to just sit back and enjoy the view.

Enjoying the View

I would have wished for a nicer sky, but we can’t get everything we want, I guess. Nonetheless, I think we could have enjoyed staying even longer, but we knew we were lagging far behind the rest of the hikers and had best get moving.

When we arrived back at the parking lot we found a note from my husband informing us that the rest of the group, having tired of waiting for us (and I remain baffled as to why they did so at all) had gone up to Logan Pass.  We drove up Going to the Sun Road to join them there at the Visitor Center.  We had to stop for two short construction zones.  Glacier is not a bad place to be forced to sit on the road waiting for your turn for the singe lane.  There is always something to look at.

Haystack Creek Cascades - July 2011

It was dark, sleeting and windy when we arrived at Logan Pass so I never even took my camera out of the car.  We rearranged vehicle occupants and head south for Missoula, stopping at Ricciardis on Finley Point of Flathead Lake for dinner.  They weren’t able to seat a party of 17, but could accommodate 4 tables of 4-5 people.  Whoohoo!  A nice dinner, with great company, and with the Singing Sons of Beaches serenading the diners was a great way to cap off the day.

More photos from the trip here:  http://www.bigskycountry.net/glacier_july2011

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