Finally, I’m getting around to doing the last big post from our trip to South Dakota in September. The last time we were in Montana, in 2017, the sky was filled with smoke from multiple wildfires, and all our plans to explore Glacier Park with our Ricochet friends had to be cancelled. Both ends of the park were closed, and we were very unhappy that we all were basically stuck inside.
This year, no wildfire smoke ruined the blue skies and green mountains. So, on the way home, we spent a wonderful afternoon traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Now, the road was only open to the top of Logan Pass, so we basically went halfway, twice (up and down); that enabled us to watch the scenery on the way up, and get all our stopping for photos on the leisurely way down. Which we did, at nearly every turnoff. So these photos may be out of order, but I can almost guarantee that you will like them all. I actually took 4X these photos-these are the ones I think are the best. And this time I got to indulge in one of the nice benefits of being old. I got one of the last “lifetime passes” the National Park Service issued free to seniors. We have three National Parks within a day’s drive of home, and are looking forward to seeing all three soon. This one was definitely worth the drive.
To get an idea of what the road itself looks like, hugging the mountainside:
See the pickup truck there? That’s the road. That truck looks puny from this distance, and compared to the mountain!
Here you can see how the road was hewn out of the side of the mountain.
You can get an idea of how wide the road is. Those stones on the edge were originally placed by workers in the 1930s, on FDR’s Works Progress Administration.
There were many of these roadside turnouts, and we stopped at most of them on the way down!
One of the most picturesque places we stopped was the Heavens Peak Overlook.
You can see all the mini-glaciers on the sides of Heavens Peak.
Near the top of Logan Pass, there were some workers repairing the side of the road. This kind of work goes on most of the year. You’d better not have any fear of heights for this work! On the way by, I noticed that those workers brought along some music and other tech.
Someone brought a wireless speaker, and everyone has a walkie-talkie. 21st-Century road workers! As if this view could ever be boring.
We reached the top of the pass, and as we expected, all the parking places were taken, so we just slowed down to take some pictures.
Take a look at these hardy trees, growing at Logan Pass, over 6600 feet high.
So, it’s time to head back down the road.
I have always marveled at how the trees can seemingly grow right out of the rock wall. That’s how mountains crumble into gravel, over millions of years.
I like getting closeup photos of the many layers of rock in these mountains. At one time, millions of years ago, this rock was sediment at the bottom of a huge inland sea. Plate tectonics pushed up the Rocky Mountains, and here they are!
You can see the sand-colored slopes at the foot of these mountains-all that sand was once rock!
This looks like a streamed or avalanche outfall, where water finds the joins between two rock formations, and flows downhill. Here’s where it ends up.
This is a great view of the Flathead River-see it curve right around the mountain in the center of the picture?
At that same turnout, there was a big, flat rock that just showed the sedimentary layers from the ancient sea bed.
See all the little glaciers at the tops of those peaks? One of the big stopping points on the East side is called “Many Glaciers”.
I thought this particular mountain was interesting to look at, with his different shades of green, and layers of rock, and the teensy glacier about halfway up.
I wish I knew the name of that mountain in the center. Looks like “Knife-edge” to me.
As we reached the bottom, we drove along Logan Creek. I just had to take this video-the creek was so beautiful and peaceful, meandering over the rocks and pebbles-the water was so clear!
Along Logan Creek, looking back toward the mountain, you just revel in the Green.
Then, look down the other way.
Logan Creek empties into Lake McDonald. This day, the surface of the lake was nearly glassy. The last time I saw this lake was in 1971, on my way to Minnesota to grad school.
On the opposite shore, you can see the bare hillside, and the burned trees from 2017’s wildfires. It’s very sad, but you know that Nature will quite soon re-seed those hills with new growth.
A closer-up view. Below, a pretty little bay.
So ended our Glacier Park excursion. It was a very beautiful way to end our big trip. We hope to be able to go back there and spend more time, instead of just passing through.