We learned that in Glacier National Park, the ‘crown of the continent’, there is a convergence of plants and animals from diverse environments. The ecosystems of the north (Canada), Maritime (Pacific Northwest), south (Southern Rocky Mountains), and east (prairie species) are found here, the narrowest point of the Rocky Mountain Chain. Water from the park flows to the Pacific Ocean (via the Columbia River), Hudson Bay (Saskatchewan and Nelson Rivers), and the Gulf of Mexico (Missouri and Mississippi Rivers); this convergence of watersheds also promotes the migration and dispersal of plants and animals. This environment is so diverse, all native carnivores – grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, and cougars – are able to survive. The abrupt transition from mountain forest to prairie supports a variety of herbivores – elk, deer, big-horn sheep, and mountain goats – which in turn allow the carnivores to survive.
Going to the Sun Road (driven in a rental car because Abby was too long and tall) provided an excellent example of the diversity that abounds in the park. Starting from the Apgar campground on the west side, we moved through areas that were reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, which was exemplified by the Trail of the Cedars (handicap accessible board walk/paved trail). Ferns, under towering cedars, dominated the forest floor. As we climbed to Logan Pass, grass became more dominant and wildflowers (Indian Paint brush, bear grass) were in full bloom. We even saw a mountain goat. Over the pass, we pushed on to St. Mary, and the cedars were replaced by dense stands of pine trees.
In the future, when Alex is older, we will take the shuttle. Many of the lots were full (the Logan Pass visitors center was like the mall parking lot at Christmas time), so if we wanted to hike we would not have been able to due to lack of parking.
Click on the images below from our trip on Going to the Sun Road to enlarge the picture.
We enjoyed our hike around Two Medicine Lake, which was approximately 8 miles. If we had gotten an earlier start, we would have tried to make No Name Lake – there were reports of a moose spending the afternoon in the water. There was a boat that we could have taken from the General Store to the west end of the lake. This would have allowed us to hike trails up to the lakes, perhaps even Dawson pass.
The route we took resulted in a more gradual climb up to along the southeast side of the lake. The trail on the northwest side of the lake is not close to the water as one might think. It is actually up the mountain.
Click on the images in the gallery below to start slide show.
This trip could have easily been called the ‘Canadian Hot Springs Tour‘, but Northern Rockies was much more inclusive of our trip. This was our first trip since completing our move to Colorado and Abby had been away in storage for the past six weeks. The poor girl was not in travel ready condition. Time was spent Friday night and Saturday morning to get Abby back in fighting form, or at least something that we could pass off as fighting form. We left at 10:30 Saturday morning, August 20th, which was much better than what Jess pessimistically envisioned.
We achieved an exciting first on this trip – Penny, Chewie, and Buster all crossed an international border (Canada) and were allowed re-entry into the United States! Our fuzzy fur creatures did not cause any international incidents while in Canada! Fantastic wins. Canada National Parks also allow dogs on trails, unless restrictions are posted. Penny and Chewie were happy to join us hiking.
We discovered how expensive diesel (and gasoline) is in Canada. Charged per liter, we had to multiple the by 3.785 to obtain the per gallon price. So $0.939/L became $3.55/gallon, which was a solid $1.00/gallon more than our most expensive price in the states.
Total days: 12
Total miles: 2800
Total gallons diesel: 175.3
Average miles per gallon: 15.9
Best miles per gallon: 17.6
Worst miles per gallon: 13.2
Our last tank reflected the slog it was driving Abby home down I-25S. We fought a headwind and hills the entire way. Despite the one poor mileage tank, we were very pleased with the mileage for the trip.
For our campground summary post, follow this link.