St. Mary, MT
After a few days exploring the Two Medicine section of Glacier NP, we drove about 50 miles to the north to St. Mary, MT where we secured a spot for the motorhome at Johnson’s of St. Mary RV Park. St. Mary is the eastern terminus of the famous scenic Going to the Sun Road, a narrow two lane road that goes over the mountains through the middle of Glacier National Park. St. Mary is also just south of the entrance to the Many Glaciers section of Glacier NP, so it’s a perfect spot to access some great hiking.
Unfortunately, heavy clouds and steady rain moved into the area the day after our arrival. For two days we couldn’t even see the mountains and one day we didn’t even leave the motor home (very unusual for us).
On day three the weather on the east side of the park continued to be very wet, while the forecast for the west side of the park was a bit drier, so off we went for a hike to Avalanche Lake. But first we had to navigate the Going to the Sun Road.
The first obstacle we had to conquer was eleven miles of wet dirt road. The Going to the Sun Road is in the final phase of a ten year improvement program and a large stretch on the east side has had all the pavement removed. It will be re-paved in September, but for now it is a bit sloppy.
The next challenge was the fog at Logan’s Pass, the highest point on the Going to the Sun road. Driving through a cloud where you can’t see the car in front of you on a narrow, winding road really gets the old heart beating!
Once down the other side of the mountain, we were a bit dismayed by the layer of mud covering the normally fairly clean Jeep!
The hike up to Avalanche Lake is one of the busiest hikes in the park, so the trail was a bit crowded. But after two days of steady rain it was good just to get out in the fresh air.
Avalanche Lake was very beautiful and the trail went by a number of neat waterfalls.
The trail to Avalanche Lake branches off from the Trail of the Cedars, a wheel-chair accessible loop trail along a raised boardwalk that passes though a forest of ancient western hemlocks and red cedars.
Below is a Black Cottonwood, one of the many amazing tall trees along the trail. Some of the trees in this area are more than 500 years old.
Some of the trees had some very strange images grown into the trunk.
One of the reasons we wanted to travel over to the west side of the park was to take advantage of the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, Rick and JoAnne, of Rick and JoAnne’s RV Travels. They are volunteer camp hosts at Apgar Campground at the west entrance to the park.
We spent a very pleasant time in their motorhome sharing experiences traveling in a motorhome. Then it was time to head back across the Going to the Sun Road. As we approached Logan’s Pass we found that the fog had not eased at all. In fact it was thicker than earlier that day. So again, we crossed the pass at crawl speed and traveled down the other side for a few miles before things cleared a bit.
As we approached the park exit we noticed a couple of cars pulled over with the occupants standing along the road. Must be some wild life nearby! Sure enough, a couple of black bears were enjoying a late evening snack nearby.
The weather is predicted to be poor at least one more day, but clearer skies are in our future. Drill Sergeant Pam has some pretty long hikes planned, so things better clear up soon or somebody is going to get pretty wet!
More on that later . . .