Saturday, September 29, 2012

Call of the Mountains -- Glacier National Park

Grandma's family homesteaded in Creston, Montana in the late 1890s.  Creston is just a few miles south of Glacier National Park, so it's no surprise we visited the park often when I was growing up and visiting relatives in Montana.  As I got older I developed a thirst for knowledge about the park and soon began collecting and reading everything I could lay my hands on.

In the early 1980s I was introduced to the writings of James Willard Schultz (1859-1947).  After reading his first book "My Life as an Indian" (1907) -- Find a copy to download here... -- I was hooked and went on to collect and read everything he penned (37 books in all).  Schultz spent many years living with the Blackfeet in or near Glacier National Park, Montana, and his description of Indian life is as complete as anything ever written.  Several of his books are now available on google books for free.

Getting back to the subject of Glacier National Park -- there are a few things I highly recommend if you visit there…

One of the best ways to experience the park is on a horseback ride.  Horses will get you off the busy roads and will give you a chance to see back country and animal life often missed by motorists.  If you only have a couple hours to spend or if your body isn't up long hours in the saddle I can recommend Swan Mountain Outfitters with locations in Many Glacier, Apgar, and Lake McDonald.  

We just rode with them at Lake McDonald in September 2012, and we were absolutely delighted by a young woman wrangler named Adriana.  Her knowledge and skill made the ride a total joy -- and we were treated to a visit with a black bear and her two cubs.

Whatever you do don't miss a trip over the "Going-to-the-Sun Road" a 50 mile span between West Glacier and St. Mary.  The road is narrow and winding, and vehicles are limited to 21 feet in length, but you can expect to see breathtaking views, glaciers, and plenty of wildlife -- especially mountain goats.

1987 on Two Medicine Lakes

If fishing from a canoe is your thing -- then a visit to Glacier National Park's Two Medicine Lake is the ticket.  The scenery is spectacular and you'll find plenty of 10 - 12 inch Brook Trout.

One of the park's best kept secrets is the little bakery at the Polebridge Mercantile where you'll find some of the best tasting Huckleberry Bear Claws ever made.  As a bonus -- if you're lucky -- you might just see or hear a wolf pack that inhabits the area.  Polebridge is on the western boundary of the park between Flathead National Forest and the North Fork of the Flathead River about 25 miles northwest of Apgar Village.

Happy trails.

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