Day 3: GLACIER RETREAT
It was 6:30am when I awoke. Julie woke up at about the same time. Since we were leaving for LAX this evening, we were determined to have one final go at driving up the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the east side up to Logan Pass. The rest of the interesting part of the road between Logan Pass and Avalanche Creek was closed for road construction (lucky us that this was the first year of at least five years they started to abridge the season for this).
In any case, we were busy packing our stuff in preparation for both the drive back to Calgary as well as the flight back to LAX. It was during this time that the sun was about to rise, and that was when I looked out our window and noticed the clouds were colored pink and purple!
So I quickly put on my windbreaker, grabbed my camera, and hastily went outside in my Chacos to take what photos I could of this fleeting moment. I guess it was only fitting that last night I caught great views of the alpenglow of the setting sun coloring the clouds near St Mary. Now, the clouds were putting on a pre-dawn show.
It was funny how all the crappy weather we had been getting throughout the trip could sometimes yield moments of brilliance like what I was experiencing now. There was even a full moon shining brightly opposite the rising sun!
By 8:25am, we were all packed and ready to go. We loaded up the car and headed out of the Glacier Trailhead Cabins bound for Logan Pass.
Even though the forecast from two days ago said that today was supposed to be a clear day with possible record temperatures expected, we could see that it was clear as we looked towards the mountains of Glacier National Park, but the clouds stubbornly stayed over much of the eastern plains thereby blocking out the sun.
In any case, we made it past the gate and stopped the car at a pullout for the Wild Goose Island overlook. This particular spot featured a view of St Mary Lake with a tiny island in much the same way that the Phantom Ship stuck out of Crater Lake.
It was quite scenic, but the muted colors due to the absence of the sun kept this photo from being all it could be.
And as they were doing this, I reached for my camera while Julie was taking blurry photos with hers. Eventually after adjusting the settings, I aimed the camera just before the younger moose went off the road.
By that time, a couple of other cars just showed up behind us, but I think they missed the show. Once the moose were off the road and down the embankment, there was no way we could track them from the road, and there was no way I was going to get out of the car (and risk getting charged by the bigger one).
Next, we stopped at the Jackson Glacier overlook. To be honest, it was hard to tell where the glacier was and the snowfield began. I guess it was indicative of just how much the glacier has retreated due to Global Warming.
We had seen other signs such as the one for Grinnell Glacier at Many Glacier, and it was clear that the glacial retreat in this park had accelerated in the last decade or so. It was real sad to see, but it was also a sobering reminder of just what is happening in the world and the fate of our future despite what global warming deniers, politicians, and greedy business types are saying.
Anyways, we then continued further up the drive where we started to notice more waterfalls that we hadn’t noticed before. One of them was the Deadwood Falls I think, which seemed to be an impressively tall waterfall, and there was even a trail to get to a view of it, but it was 1.3 miles each way and Julie was totally against us doing a hike with the grizzlies out munching on berries that were ubiquitous throughout the park.
By 9:40am, we got to a part where the road became unpaved and there were construction artifacts and vehicles everywhere. We were delayed by one of those ubiquitous flaggers who’d keep us waiting for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. But the difference with this particular roadblock was that we were able to get out of the car and right over to the embankment where we could photograph more unexpected waterfalls along with attractive peaks and buttes.
Meanwhile, one guy who stopped behind us spotted some bighorn sheep high up the mountain. He was trying to point it out to me, but I wasn’t sure if I spotted it or not.
Finally after we got going, we made a beeline for Logan Pass Visitor Center. Along the way, there was an attractive cascade that we wanted to stop for, but the pullout was on the other side. Maybe we could try to stop for it on the way back down.
At the Logan Pass Visitor Center, we spent some time up here trying to soak in the views while briefly embarking on some of the short nature walks. There was a 3-mile return walk to Hidden Lake Overlook, but we were short on time and Julie didn’t want to do it (both for bears as well as the high altitude, which wasn’t good for the baby).
Inside the visitor center, I overheard a visitor ask a park ranger who had been here for 5 years how much had changed over the time she was here. It was sobering to hear her talk about how much the glaciers have receded in that time frame. Plus, she also talked about how much the population had exploded thereby increasing the number of consumers exponentially and putting more pressure on the earth’s resources let alone its energy demands (and hence the after effects of energy production – i.e. CO2 emissions).
Of course if Global Warming became accepted as fact, then the next thing would be denying whether humans had anything to do with it. Again, I wish most people would just wake up and face the facts, but not everyone can go traveling to places like this where you can see the effects firsthand on what we’re doing to the planet and how we’re putting the foot on the accelerator towards the edge of the cliff.
I’m sure if more people saw what’s going on and process the input from their own senses, then perhaps there might be some hope in turning the Green Movement into a mass movement rather than on the fringes where the impact is minimal at best.
In any case, after going crazy taking photos, I realized that there wasn’t enough time to really take in this place and go for a walk. We’ll have to come back here later (hopefully before the glaciers are all gone), and we’d have to do this anyways since we couldn’t go through the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
At 10:45am, we were back in the car and followed the caravan of cars through the construction zone. I saw the pullout that would’ve allowed us to take a photo of the cascade I wanted to check out nearby the pass, but then one of the workers further down the road was screaming at me to keep moving!
I couldn’t believe that we couldn’t even make a quick stop for this at a designated pullout because of this construction zone. I guess that was a hint for me to not even bother visiting this park until the construction is done (again, seemed like road construction was the theme of this trip). But at the same time, I’d have to hope against hope that the glaciers would still be there…
At 11:35am, we were back at Wild Goose Island Overlook. This time, I got the tripod out so Julie and I could take our last couple shots (something we hadn’t done a whole lot on this trip). The clouds were still persistent and kept the sun from adding color to the lake and the mountains surrounding it.
By 11:55am, we were back at St Mary filling up gas and making another pit stop. And that pretty much marked the end of our time sightseeing. For now, we were making a beeline straight north towards Calgary.
We went through customs at 12:30pm (it was funny to hear the slight differences in the American English versus the Canadian English at the pair of border gates there), and eventually made it back to the Calgary Airport at 3:30pm.
There was still plenty of time to go for our 7:35pm flight, but at least we could take our sweet ‘ol time finalizing our packing and taking care of whatever else needed to be done here before we had to face reality once again…