Auto Ads by Adsense

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

2021 Glacier National Park: June 28th - Avalanche Lake


I woke up at 4:55am, searched in vain for my National Park Pass, gave up, and drove down to the Park Entrance, arriving there at 5:55am, before the need for a permit to enter. Driving to Apgar Village and parking at the Backcountry Permit Ranger Station, I was dismayed to find someone already in line, and he had the nerve to be better prepared than me: he had a nice sleeping pad and a sleeping bag, while I hadn't even brought insect repellent and would stand there for the better part of 2 hours doing the Australian Salute.

"Which site are you here for?" I asked when he poked his head out of his sleeping bag. "Bowman Lake." "Woah. You're aware it's projected to be 100F tomorrow there, right?" "Yeah. There's 9 of us, and it was the only site big enough. My buddies are already there, and there's one site left so I have to be here to grab it." I gave thanks. He perked up and I discussed my site selection and reasoning to him, as he seemed very familiar with the park. "That sounds right. The East side is cooler than the West side, and Upper Two Medicine is 1000' higher, which is good for 5 degrees Fahrenheit. And Noname is even higher!" "How long have you been here?" "Since 4:45am." OK, I wasn't behind him by a little bit, I was behind him by a lot!

At 6:30am, a woman dressed in the Park Employee's uniform showed up. "I'm so bummed I forgot to pick up my permit yesterday!" She tried calling the on-duty ranger but they didn't make any exceptions for her.  At 7:00am, an Escalade showed up and disgorged a group of women. I counted their numbers and to my relief they were more than 4 people, which meant that they couldn't compete with me for my desired itinerary. They introduced themselves as a bunch of folks from Texas, and apologized with cheer for bringing Texas weather with them. "I need some coffee. Can one of you go for coffee?" one said to another. "OMG, can you get one for me too?" I asked. I looked so pathetic that they assented, and brought me back a cup of black coffee after a while. At age 51, I finally got a woman to buy me a drink!

The ranger office opened up as more parties arrived, and when I went in I indeed got my site: Upper Two Medicine on June 29th, and Noname for June 30th. I asked the ranger about possibly camping in a hammock, but he discouraged me --- I would be allowed to use one inside the established site, but it would be against the rule to just tie my hammock to any tree to sleep.  Despite that discouragement, I felt great, went down to the camping store to buy a gas canister at an exorbitant price of $8, said goodbye to the ladies behind me, and drove back to Flathead Lake Resort to pick up the rest of the family. I still didn't have a park entry permit, but I realized that I had the e-mail about picking up the backcountry permit for Cracker Lake, so I picked up the wife and kids, drove back to the entrance, and used the e-mail to enter the park under the excuse that I was picking up my backcountry permit!

Not needing to pick one up any more, we drove straight to the trailhead for Avalanche Lake, an easy hike that I remembered from 2010 that I wanted to repeat, because the last time I did it I saw nothing at the lake!

The hike was pretty and easy, and I'd brought along the water filter so we could drink from the lake. The water tasted great! On the way back down, we ran into Arturo, who sheepishly took my National Parks Pass card out of his wallet and gave it back to me. Too late, since we'd already paid $35 for a 7 day entry permit to Glacier National Park, but it was worth it, so beautiful was the hike.

By the time we were all done it was too late to go to any place fancy for dinner, so we settled for take out Mexican food near the resort, as I wanted to go back and pack for the backcountry trip. While waiting for food, I realized that we couldn't re-enter Glacier National park any more, so I had to have a plan for Friday. The forecast was for continued heat, and but I noticed that there were Rafting companies near the entrance of the park. Most of them were booked solid, but one had availability for Friday, so after consulting with Bowen and Xiaoqin I booked a half day trip with them as a recovery trip.

The Mexican food was nothing special, but I got a chance to pack that night. This time, I had the disadvantage of having to carry 3 days worth of food, but the advantage of not having to carry a bear canister. To my dismay, I had to attach an accessory bag to be able to carry all the food. I had no room left to carry the hammock, or the CPAP machine and battery. I packed my backpack, Xiaoqin's backpack, the kids' camelbaks and filled them with water. I cajoled everyone into getting into bed early in the hopes of getting an early start --- it was at least a 2 hour drive into Two Medicine from where we were the next morning.

No comments: