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Thursday, August 26, 2021

2021 Glacier National Park: July 4th - Cabinet Mountains and Big Sky Water Park

 All through our trip the guidebook would mention huckleberry bushes along one route or another, but we never saw any huckleberries whatsoever during our trip. The day started with a long 1.5 hour drive, first along long straight highways and then on a dirt road that then turned into a one way route. By the time we arrived at Trail 656, I was worried that we were too low and the day would be hot, but it wasn't too bad.

The hike started in a wooded area, crossed a bridge over a river, and then went steadily (but moderately) uphill.

The whining commenced almost immediately. Something similar had happened way back in June of 2020, when between jobs I'd taken the boys out every day for hiking or cycling. But I wasn't fooled. We'd just had 2 rest days when the boys hadn't done much, and I was positive that when I took them to the water park that afternoon they would be full of energy.

It was Bowen with his sharp eyes who spotted the first huckleberry. He tried it and pronounced it good. After that, the complaining stopped as the hike devolved into a search for ripe huckleberries, which were scarfed down as quickly as they were found. I was glad for the relief, and by the time we got to the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness sign, we'd had enough huckleberries, though Boen started asking for ice cream as the day did get warmer.

As we approached Geiger Lakes, we started seeing signs of camping - hammocks, tents, and noises from people having breakfast or lunch. Mosquitoes became much more vicious. At the first Geiger Lake we stopped for a picture. 

The area was gorgeous and did not require a permit for camping. The mosquitoes weren't great, however, and the water was warm enough for swimming, though neither of the kids were tempted. They just wanted to get back down to more huckleberries and the promised water park.

The hike back down was fast, but not so fast that Bowen's sharp eyes couldn't produce more huckleberries. I was very impressed. Upon returning to down, we discovered that on July 4th, most restaurants were closed, and we ended up with a 45 minute wait to get served at a local pizza place, which had great pizza.

After that, it was a change to swim suits and application of more sunblock before heading down to Big Sky Waterpark. The prices were high but by entering after 3:00pm we'd gotten the twilight discount and also the $2 per person discount that was on the web-site that just had to be mentioned to get it.

As anticipated, the boys immediately had all the energy in the world, with Boen and Bowen making full use of their 2.5 hours to do every slide multiple times. My feet got sore from walking on the concrete ramps, but I had to admit that the slides, while old and kinda bumpy, were even faster and more thrilling than the ones we'd tried in Germany. In particular, they had 2 tube slides that required that you carry the tubes (and I did not even try to help Boen carry them --- he enthusiastically carried them himself), that because of the nature of tubes on water were much much faster than any of the body slides.

We made use of every second of the slide time, and then went for dinner in Whitefish, finishing just after the huckleberry ice cream shop closed. The kids cried so much that I had to stop at a MacDonalds to get them some vanilla ice cream to placate them.

The one advantage of the water slide was that after all that the kids slept easily. I had a ton of packing to do the next morning before the drive back to Spokane, but I too was worn out enough that I opted to sleep first and pack the next day.

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