Day32: July 17, 2016
Going to the Sun

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I took a few more pictures on the way out on Many Glacier Road than I did on the way in. Today's pictures include a look at the other side of Many Glacier Hotel and a shot of some of the rocks that have fallen and turned into road edge markers.

After exiting the park at Many Glacier Road, near the town of Babb, I drove several miles south to reenter on Going to the Sun Road at Saint Mary. It is beautiful from the very beginning but that's rather common in these parts. Then, as the road's curves become tighter and it wraps itself around rock walls, the sense that this is something special begins to grow.

There is evidence of fire and there is evidence of a changing climate. Fire and the regrowth that follows is good for the park. No so climate change. That "Going, Going, Gone." sign references a projection that says the glaciers that give the park its name may be gone by 2030. There were an estimated 150 glaciers in the park in 1850. Yes, that's just an estimate so you can think it high or low if one or the other suits you. But, by actual count, there were 50 in 1968. Today there are 25.

These pictures appear in the proper sequence but that is essentially the only organizing principle applied. Their selection was 100% subjective.

Gorgeous scenery is everywhere and the 1930s red buses are almost everywhere. Most had the tops open, all make frequent stops, and everybody in them seemed to be having a good time. One reason for leaving the driving to them is that this road definitely requires some attention. While westbound, most of the rock walls are on the right where a miscalculation could put a nasty scrap on the side of your car. On the other side of the road, a miscalculation could put nasty scrapes on all sides of your car. Boat tours on Lake McDonald offer yet another view of the park.

Near the spot where I stood to take the picture of the bus I noticed some litter and removed it. Finding this on the ground in a national park is so wrong on so many levels that I won't even start.

At the road's west end I did a brief walkabout of the Apgar Visitor Center then headed back. I captured a couple of different views of the red buses and a drive-by shot of the Triple Arches which are really only visible to eastbound travelers. I started my westbound drive at a not particularly early tenish and traffic was certainly not light. A sign near the entrance had announced that the Logan Pass parking lot was full. But it was clearly much heavier now. I stopped just twice on the return drive: Once to photograph the waterfall (and the buses that happened to pass it while I was there) and once at Wild Goose Island.

Outside the park, I left US-89 to drive MT-49 into East Glacier. MT-49 is almost as wiggly and scenic as Going to the Sun but nowhere near as well maintained. This was not, as they say, a drive in the park.

After taking front and back shots of historic Glacier Park Lodge I headed across the street to photograph the depot. I realize that I should have parked and taken a look inside the lodge but the day's driving had left me a little low on extra energy. The last photo was taken from near the depot.

An identical arrangement greeted me when I entered the Blackfoot Nation from Canada but I failed to stop. I've been regretting that and was happy to get another chance at the south edge. I stopped a short distance beyond at what I initially assumed was a place where Meriwether Lewis had changed a tire but read the sign to determine that wasn't the case at all.

I stop at many scenic overlooks but not all. I passed one on US-89 when I saw some low mountains in the distance. I remember think that those mountains would be pretty scenic in Indiana but after a day in Glacier Park they were not very impressive. But it wasn't long before I noticed something fairly dramatic going on in those mountains and pulled over at the next opportunity. Oddly enough, this was the first day in six that rain did not fall directly on me at some point but I got to see some and I would hear some rather heavy rain and thunder during the night.

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