Location: Waterton, Alberta, Canada
Hi to Everyone--
Well I made it back in one piece, bearly----speaking of bears---we saw 5 bears when we were in Many Glacier...they were munching on the berries up on the hills around the hotel. And even from 1/4 mile away they were huge! So amazing, just knowing that they are taking so much care in pushing the berry bushes aside to get the good ones on the inside, but knowing that they could literally rip your face off....what cool creatures.
But this trip was one of the longest thus far, and by the last say I was feeling it. We started our trip in Whitefish as usual and headed off to Many Glacier Hotel (in East Glacier) for 3 nights of greatness. The hotel is just so big and old, with no TV and no distractions, so you are forced to sit on the porch and watch for big game, or sit by the HUGE fire place and read. It's a great hotel. The food is to die for, great desserts. We went hiking from the lodge everday, and one of the days was to Grinnell Lake, a runoff of Grinnell Glacier:
Check out the before and after shots...pretty sad actually (global warming). But the hike to the lake was pretty unenjoyable...the flies were SO bad. You couldn't stop without having literally 200 flies land on you. It was so gross, I would stop and get the chills becase there were so many on me. They have formed some immunity to bug spray--we did an experiment..we laid a deet wipe on the ground and within minutes it was covered with flies.....hmm....can we say controversy? But when we finally got to the lake we couldn't stay long due to the flies. But it was a gorgeous little glacier lake in the mountains.
Within the next few days we saw 3 Golden Eagles (close cousins to the Bald Eagle), 5 Bears, 2 Moose, 3 Big Horned Sheep, lots of Mountain Goats, and then on the first day in Waterton we saw a Bald Eagle.
On the way to Waterton we stopped at Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump.
I could write a book about how interesting this place was, but I'll let you check it out for yourself. It was an amazing place, and you could just feel the spirituality. Our guide was 80% Native Blackfeet, and every so often he would stop and do a traditional Indian Chant, it was amazing. The view from the top of the cliffs literally left you speechless, it was so enormous. The view went for miles and miles. I swear you could see for 100 miles. It was what *Big Sky* was named after. (well maybe not, but it was interesting). The Native People were and are such a huge influance around the Pacific Northwest, you can't help but become interested in the people. On the other hand though, the people are so poor and thier lands are pretty desolate, there is an unemployment rate of nearly 50% (in a GOOD year) and nearly 80% when it's really bad. When you are in thier territory you just feel guilty, like as an American you had something to do with the way that they are living now. You feel like you should appologize for the past. But like my Uncle Zack tells me (BIG Z) when you go to places like this you just have to respect the land and the culture, that's all they ask. So that's what I do.
But on to Wateron, it was a beautiful little city nestled into the Mountains. Very tiny, with deer and big horned sheep roaming around the streets. The Canadian's are SO NICE! Everyone there is just great--EH!? I walked up to the Prince of Wales Hotel one evening to get a shot of the hotel and the city from a different angle and it was a beautiful old hotel. Very expensive--$250-$800 bucks for room. I personally think there might be better things to spend your money on...but that's just me.
So Sunday we headed back, stopping for a flat tire on the bus, OH did I mention that the A/C died on Wednesday and it was nearly 100 out everday?? Enough to make everyone's blood boil. I think I might have slipped into a coma on the way back in the back of the bus :) But needless to say, we were all pretty tired and ready for a nice cold shower when we got back to Big Mountain last night.
Hope everyone is doing well....STAY COOL!
Location: East Glacier, MT, USA
Well I made it back from what I like to call my little slice of paradise. I got to spend the past 3 days in East Glacier, staying at the Many Glacier Hotel. It is one of the oldest lodges in the park and super gorgeous. I got a room on the lake and free 4 star dining. Nothing wrong with that!! What I didn't expect was getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get those great 'morning light' shots on the mountains and have it be nearly 40 degrees!! (It was a photography group). But it was incredible, topped off with a moose sighting in the lake.
Next week I am headed to Waterton, Canada for 3 nights and then 3 more nights at The Many Glacier Hotel. Can't wait!
Location: Whitefish, MT, USA
Happy 5th of July everyone!
A day late and still haven't been paid...but, after yesterday it all seems worth it. We left for the park nearly 3 minutes early to avoid the massive crowds that were reported this weekend, due to 4th of July and the Canadian 4th of July (have you ever heard of such a thing??) But the park was a mob scene this weekend. Out intention was to get up to the Continental Divide before 10am to get a parking spot. Out ride up the Going-to-the-Sun Highway was anything but casual: with one car sick passenger in the back of the bus who heaved into her lunch bag (we saved the food though!!), one near side swipe from someone doing a little too much rubbernecking, 2 big horned sheep within 10 feet of us (TOO COOL!!), many mountain goats and kids playing in the snow, and one dead Columbian Ground Squirrel (may he or she rest in peace) that ran under the tire of the van. We made it to the Pass with minutes to spare and seemed to grab 2 of the LAST parking spots in the area. The Pass (Logan's Pass that is), even after 2 weeks has changed so dramatically with the snow melting and glacier lilies blooming and massive holes, that bears dig in the wee hours of the morning, looks like a completely different place! It's beautiful. We stayed and walked around for a little bit but decided to get out of the parking lot, after the 3rd Hosteler told me that someone asked when we were leaving, so they could have our parking spot.....it was a mad house. We headed to Sun Point to eat lunch (the pictures I most recently put up, with the water fall and gorgeous lake shots) and stayed there to do the 1.5 mile round trip hike to the falls. Well, the adventures didn't stop there. After our 1.5 HOUR hike to the falls, we were pulling out of the parking lot and one of my hostelers told me she dropped her glasses lense---well luckily for her, a group passing told me that they left it on a log at the falls..........a mile and a half away. So this was the culminating moment of my running career when I told her I would run to get it for her. And run I did.....I ran my BEST mile and a half EVER!! And found her glasses lense. I felt like a hero :)
By this point in the trip most everyone is falling asleep in the van on the way back down the Sun Highway, so it's a pretty quiet ride home. We stopped at the Huckleberry Patch (the highlight of most everyone's week) to get huckleberry ice cream (a delicacy I have yet to try in fear that I will become addicted) and headed back to the lodge.
At about 10:30 last night (when it finally gets semi-dark here) the fireworks on the lake started.....something we heard and didn't see. I didn't know what a valley I was living in until I heard the fireworks echo off of 3 valley walls...pretty amazing and LOUD!
It was a perfect day.....great weather, crystal clear and sunny (it usually rains here on the 4th) and we had record highs of 94 degrees.....my ears are still sun burned from last week! Made me realize that my one bad day last week is the small price I'll pay for a day like yesterday.
Hope everyone had a safe and fun 4th!!
Location: Whitefish, MT, USA
The end of my second week and the beginning of my third, I am beginning to see what this job is all about. Besides the gorgeous days in GNP and up here on Big Mountain, my job consists of kissing a lot of butt. I got a bad evaluation today because I didn't smile all the time....hmm...maybe that's becasue everytime someone was talking to me it was a complaint!!
Next week we are doing the same program as the first 2 weeks, however the week after that we'll be traveling to East Glacier for more intensive hiking and less driving. That's something to look forward too!
Have a good one!
Location: Glacier National Park, MT, USA
I am too tired to go into great detail about today's adventures. But we did head up the West side of the Going to the Sun Highway that just opened up this past Friday. It was gorgeous. We hiked to Hidden Lake out of Logan Pass in about 3 feet of snow pack. It was pretty sketchy, but we made it! About 3 miles out. It was absolutly amazing, and during out lunch break we did have a family of mountain goats join us, kids and all. They were awesome.
We may have been hiking on 3 feet of snow, but it was 94 degrees out. I don't know who here has walked on ice or snow, but you get sunburned in the weirdest places....inside of your nose...inside of your ears...under your arms. Can't really help it, the sun is coming at you from the top and bottom!!
It was an awesome day, glad to see the pass open. But with the pass being open, that means MORE tourists driving on the Going to the Sun Highway....and it's not even the busy season yet!
Enjoy the pictures!!
Location: Whitefish, MT, USA
*get comfy, it's a long one*
This offically starts my first work week, if you can call it work :) The group arrived on Sunday, and on Tuesday we headed to the park to get out there and stretch our legs. The groups consists of some of the most interesting people that I've ever met. Just to name a few, we have : A Japanese laborer from one of the World Wars, her husband the retired nuclear physicist, lots of retired teachers, a woman we served in the Navy WAVES when she was my age, two couples that are on thier honeymoons and of course, Frank, who is 91 years old. 91 and he is more active than most people that I know. He says his secret is an active mind, and he doesn't have any plans to slow down yet. Pretty inspirational to hear him talk about everything. He's been around for nearly a century! I was standing in the park yesterday and I just stopped and really had to pinch myself to think that this is what I am getting paid for. Amazing job and even more amazing people! And this is only weeks one.
A small side note, and small geography lesson. Glacier National Park (or the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park--the first international National park in the world (followed by many more)) has two entrances on the States side, West Glacier and East Glacier. There is a road (the Going-to-the-Sun- Highway) that goes from one entrance to another, through the middle of the park. From about October to June the road has nealy 80 feet of snow on it in some parts. They start plowing in April and are lucky to be finished by June. June 22 was the latest that the road ever opened in park history. Well June 22 is approaching fast and the snow is plowed, but becasue of wicked rain, there has been nearly 10 reported avalanches, pouring rock and mud on the road from thousands of feet above, so the road is still closed. So, unfortunantly, the road is going to be closed this year until Saturday (they report Saturday, but thats a guess, can't plan things based on Mother Nature). You ask what is so special about this Going to the Sun Highway? I'll let you check it out yourself:
The abridged version: The Going-to-the-Sun Highway is one of the most scenic roads in the world. Only 52 miles long, the road transverses the Park and crosses the Continental Divide meaning : if you stand on the West side of the divide and pour some water out it will go into the Pacific Ocean, and if you pour water out on the East side of the divide, the water will go into the Atlantic Ocean. HOWEVER, there is one mountain in the park, called Triple Divide, that will take it a step further. Same as above (west= Pacific, east= atlantic) but if you stand on the top of this mountain and pour water to the North, it will run into the Arctic Ocean.
Just something to chew on. Pretty fasicinating.
There is so much more to come. Enjoy the photos!! I know I am.
Location: Whitefish, MT, USA
Well for the first time today I took the 26 mile drive to Glacier National Park to see what I got myself into, being that I'm going to be working there everyother day this summer! I decided to get an annual NP pass after I found out that EVERYtime you go into GNP you have to pay 25 bucks....and the pass was only 50 for the whole year and good for all the parks in the US. Why not?! But I decided to do a pretty moderate hike up Brown Mountain. It was about a 12 mile hike, but slice off about 2 miles, since I didn't offically get to the top of the mountain, here in Montana, there is still plenty of snow on the ground! But it was an incredible hike. How do I describe it? Imagine fresh snow, and christmas trees and the cleaniest air you have ever smelled, and that is what it smells like in GNP. It's almost intoxicating! You can't help but take the biggest breathes you have ever taken, just to get that smell in your nose! It's so great. I did see alittle wildlife, including: a deer (a huge deer) and her fawn, a tiny little chipmunk and I was on the lookout for bears, but didn't have any luck. I'm sure I'll see some this summer. The park is huge, almost 1 million sqaure miles, and I barely touched the surface today. I have about 4 months to see as much as I can!! Unfortunantly as the summer goes on, the people come in hords.....bus loads of them, so I was glad to have the place pretty much to myself today!
Location: Kalispell, MT, USA
Just a small note to say, as far as my CDL goes, I PASSED!! I'm on my way (well half way there) to becoming the best commercial driver ever! Next week the driving portion. I'll keep everyone posted!
Location: Whitefish, MT, USA
Hi to all again!
Well I have settled into my little home for the summer, also know as the Hibernation House. After 2300 miles of driving, I arrived here at about 3 o'clock yesterday and checked in. After unloading, I headed to town to get some food and check out the town. I did notice some things that I'd never seen before.....for example, the ORGANIC dry cleaners! Seemed lke the most popular place in town! Today I had the great pleasue of spending the entire day at the Montana DMV. I started off there at about 9, waited in line, got to the desk and they told me that half of my papers were wrong or missing. So I headed out to find a fax machine and sent my papers to the right people to fix them, and went back to the DMV. This time my letter of 'intent' (in other words, what I'm going here for the summer) was wrong. It had the wrong address on it. So I went to meet KC, the woman who hired me, great lady, and got that taken care of. Went back to the DMV, had all the RIGHT papers and surrendered my Ohio license, and am now offically a Montana Resident! Next, was time to take the written portion of the commerical test....and well, FAILED! I failed the written portion. Man.....what a loser I AM! But can you tell ME what the axels of a semi should weigh when crossing a draw bridge? Nope, neither could I. So I get 6 chances--for free to retake it. Apparently this isn't just a problem for me. So I'm off to hit the books and study to become the BEST COMMERCIAL driver in the world. Wish me luck!
Location: Butte, Montana, USA
Hi to all!
Well my journey out West has landed me in Butte, Montana for the night. I left on Friday morning and have driven nearly 1800 miles. The drive alone has been petty exciting, seeing new things and stopping at the places that I have only ever heard of, including Mount Rushmore and the Black Hill National Forest (where I saw a heard of Buffalo!). I passed through Iowa and Minnasota (where there were MANY windmill farms--very Eco friendly and futuristic). I spent the second day driving on I-90, on the straightest road in North America (in my opinion) and made the necessary stops at The Mitchell Corn Palace and Wall Drug...both cool in thier own ways, I did get a few postcards:) I have seen more wildlife in the 2 days of driving then I have seen in 6 months in Ohio. Including colorful birds, buffalo, moose (yes, MOOSE), and some sort of goat-deer....not sure what that one is yet, I'm working on it. The mountains are beautiful, and VERY rocky! The weather has been great with a few showers along the way. So far I have made it on coffee and diet black cherry vanilla coke---who knew that would be good? But it's been an incredible trip to say the least and I'm not even in Whitefish yet! I'll keep posting, enjoy the photos!!