When checking into my hotel in Montana, I was struck by how busy the town was, and asked the clerk at the hotel what was going on. She said it was because of the oil boom in Williston, North Dakota, so after much hemming and hawing, I decided to go out of my way to check it out a bit the next day. Pretty interesting stuff going on there. Google it for a good read or two.
Day 2 of my Fall 2014 trip across the country included going I think well over 400 miles through Montana, and when I was done, I was of course still in Montana! I took a combination of interstates and state highways mostly. I listened to one of my old favorite songs, Big City, by Merle Haggard, and had a good time. (“Turn me loose, set me free, somewhere in the middle of Montana!”)
Glacier National Park and the surrounding area aren’t exactly packed with people to begin with, at least compared to some of the more famous parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. But Glacier still gets its fair share of visitors. Not too many of those visitors choose to go up Inside North Fork Road (or Outside North Fork Road for that matter) to the tiny town of Polebridge, which is completely off the electric grid. Even fewer people seem to venture further north up the narrow, winding dirt road to Kintla Lake. That of course, is why I wanted to see these places! Heck, I had nothing better to do. So my brother Phil and I made our way to Polebridge, grabbed a teepee for the night, then took the drive up to Kintla Lake. At first I didn’t think the weather was good for photos, but I ended up being treated to a beautiful double rainbow, and some more beautiful sites on the drive back to the more populated parts of the area the next day.
Honestly, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Glacier National Park until I became actively involved in the great community of photographers on Flickr. The combination of vibrant plant and animal life, plus snow capped mountains, is something I became infatuated with. My infatuation started at least a few months before I decided to take time away from the work world to travel, and that infatuation probably influenced the decision to travel for a long period of time. How else would I have time to spend a few days in the far northern reaches of the continental U.S.?
By the time I had made it out of Yellowstone in mid-August, I hadn’t seen anyone I knew for weeks, I had been camping a lot, and I was tired. My motivation to take photos was waning, as was my motivation to hike, and things like that. Luckily, my brother Phil flew into Bozeman, MT, and having him with me added to my motivation. We packed all of our stuff into my Jeep, and with little room to spare, headed north. We spent a night camping outside the park, then woke up in the morning to drive the famous Going to the Sun Road. After a few days of hiking and hanging out, a little scare while wading through some water, plus a few more nights camping, in a tent, and another structure you can see below, we headed out of the park. It was a great couple days, and well worth the time and effort.
I asked Phil for some words to add, and here’s what he had to say:
“These were the clearest lake waters I have ever seen! While very cold despite the August timeframe, they were great to both swim and to paddle, with surroundings you can see for yourself.”
Enjoy the photos.
I only ended up spending a couple days in Yellowstone National Park itself, but the entire area is beautiful and fascinating. (And cold at night and in the morning!) After I left the park, I drove over the Beartooth Pass, which Charles Kuralt called “the most beautiful drive in America”. I am not sure if I can agree with that judgment, but that’s mostly because visibility was low with a lot of rain in the lower altitudes, and yes, I got snowed on near the top…on August 14th. After the Beartooth Pass, my 100 miles on I-90 to Bozeman was actually the longest stretch of Interstate that I’ve driven on the entire trip. Luckily it was through the mountains and actually pretty nice!