I'm not sure who or when it was decided we would go kayaking but we did. I'm guessing at the miles. But first we have to drive the magnificent Going to the Sun Road
. Just before the Rising Sun you start to see the results of the 4,800 acre Reynolds fire of 2015. As we continued on the road you get new views of the area’s spectacular mountain peaks that are no longer obscured thanks to the fire’s removal of the tree canopy... a silver lining I guess. Nonetheless I am glad I have video before and after the fire damage along this section of road. The place where it looked terrible was Sunrift Gorge.
The road is in spectacular shape as they finish up the several year construction. Some of the pullout areas are massive now like at Wild Goose Island (sadly the one dead tree on the Island does make it not nearly as pretty) and Haystack Butte Falls area. We got out at both as at least now you can pretty much find parking. However, there aren't any lined parking spaces per se so I have to wonder if they are going to correct the hap-hazardness of it all.
And as I have been hearing, there is just no parking at Logan Pass unless you get there early which we were not. So we took two loops in the hopes someone would pull out but ended up getting a space down at the next pullout past Oberlin Falls where they have built a viewing area. We got to see a couple goats up high and also enjoy the view to the north of the mountains. Mountains that I still can't identify which has frustrated me since 2005. I could take a guess but I'm not sure so if anyone is better at topo or google earth, I'd love for you to take a stab at the ID hikearizona.com/pho ... .php
After one last stop at Haystack Butte Falls pullout (there was still snow and lots of Fireweed with a respectable view of Bird Woman Falls), we finally made our way down to the McDonald Valley. We had lunch at the Jammer Joe's Grill and Cafe, I bot a new hiking hat at the GNP store and then headed for Apgar Village/Lake McDonald. Parking wasn't easy at any of the places as we continue to love our Parks to death. Glacier has two different shuttles (express and a frequent stop) and I think for the most part, those are pretty full as well. I'm just glad I've been able to enjoy this park back in the day when it was much less crowded in the common areas.
Surprisingly we found a place to park not too far from Boat Rental place. I wanted to get a two seat kayak for our trip on Lake McDonald
but none were available so we each got our own lime green boats; the only thing available at the time. I believe it was $15 per hour. We got some instruction about where and where not to go and climbed in. Well I've not really kayaked before so I was a bit intimidated plus that water is very cold. Wendy gave me some pointers and off we went. I decided rather quickly that it would take me a bit to be comfortable so I told Wendy to go on ahead over to an area we had intended on going toward another shoreline up the lake.
I just paddled around in the middle of this part of the lake and really was quite content. I watched the people around me including some board paddlers that had fallen off their board and couldn't seem to get back up. They started yelling for help once they got back on the board. A few people in a canoe came by and started paddling them to shore. Apparently Apgar Rentals saw what was going on and brot a boat out to pick them up and take them back to shore.
On top of all of this, I was watching the smoke from the Sprague Fire that had been started by lightening from the storm we experienced up on Boulder Pass three nites ago. Almost all through the video you can see the smoke from the fire that would eventually take out the living quarters of the 114-year old Sperry Chalet on August 31st. I was trying to identify the exact location of the fire based on the layout of the mountains and explain it to Wendy.
When Wendy got back she offered me more pointers on the kayaking thing and those definitely helped. Then she did two donuts around me in both directions, such a show off
. I even got it on video. Since our two hours was almost up we paddled on in to shore. It was a really nice afternoon for kayaking and nice to get some upper body and core work in. Next we headed to the tourist store to see if there was anything we should buy but there wasn't so we headed for the W Glacier KOA.
I realized as we were driving that I didn't have the address for the KOA but I assumed it would be signed somewhere on the Highway 2 that we were traveling. If not, we would have to stop somewhere to inquire. I was pretty sure it was in the direction we were going (west on Highway 2 out of Glacier Park) and sure enough, I was right. You have to drive a couple miles off the main highway and when we arrived, we were stunned at how beautiful it was. We got the key to our little cabin and ate our leftover food from lunch and the rest of our Cattle Baron t-bone steak.
The next day:
Hungry Horse Reservoir, Huckleberry Patch, Whitefish Big Mountain, Whitefish (shipped our bear spray home), dinner and stayed with my second cousins (lots more details in the photo set). I hadn't been back to Whitefish since my mom died so it was a harder visit than I thot. We used to live there, had an art gallery, and I was married there. I highly encourage you to go up to Big Mountain (that's what they called it when I lived there, it's now Whitefish Mountain) to do some hiking or ride the lift and or do some luging (sliding) as it's great fun [ youtube video ]
(video of just the luge ride).
Going to the Sun Road Videos:
To Logan Pass - [ youtube video ]
At and around Logan Pass - [ youtube video ]
Logan Pass to Lake McDonald - [ youtube video ]
Kayaking Lake McDonald with Sprague Fire in background [ youtube video ]
Hungry Horse Reservoir including the osprey I saw with Ambika and Guru in 2012 [ youtube video ]
Whitefish Big Mountain ski lift, Interpretive Center and luge (includes the 3 minute luge movie) [ youtube video ]
around Whitefish and my cousins place including their morning Jam session with Wendy [ youtube video ]
Flathead Lake's Woods Bay with more cousins, Swan Lake, Big Fork and some of Kalispell's Conrad Mansion [ youtube video ]
. I highly recommend you visit the mansion if you ever get to Kalispell. I've wanted to see the mansion many times but never made the time. I think the story will surprise you, it did us.