Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Going-to-the-Sun St Mary, MT, Saturday, 03 September 2011 8:18pm

Mike tipped me off to the Missoula Farmer's Market that was happening this morning, so before I left town I loaded up on huckleberries, two types of cherries, pears, buffalo jerky, and some garlic and cheese flatbread. I also brunched on a tasty breakfast sandwich and a blueberry scone.

If you've looked at my overview map, you might wonder why I stopped in Missoula in the first place. It was a full day diversion back west across the Rockies from Great Falls, (from where it would have been easy to just go south to Yellowstone). The answer is that I wanted to ride the Going-to-the-Sun Road, through Glacier National Park. Coming from Banff, it made sense to ride from the northeast end of the road to the southwest end, which would have put me on a course for Missoula.

The catch is that I didn't ride northeast to southwest coming from Banff. The weather that I ran into south of Banff was dropping snow in the pass in Glacier, so I decided to divert south to Great Falls, rather than try to cross the Rockies in snow. Since I still wanted to ride the Going-to-the-Sun Road, I decided to wait out the bad weather. And since I had originally planned to come through Missoula anyway, I had an offer of a place to stay already, so instead of waiting out the weather in a motel in Canada, I got to hang around with people in Missoula, which turns out to be a cool little town.

Anyway, today's ride took me up to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is a windy road up to a pretty mountain pass and back down the other side of the Rockies. It's a very pretty trip with lots of turnouts for views of the mountains and valleys. There are surprisingly few views of glaciers, considering that it's Glacier National Park. Global warming has melted about 80% of the glaciers in the park, and it's projected that there will be no glaciers here at all in twenty years.

Since it was Labor Day weekend, and the first nice day in a while, I avoided stopping to much in hopes of being able to find a campsite when I arrived at the eastern edge of the park. No such luck. All of the campgrounds were full by the time I arrived. Luckily, there are a bunch of private campgrounds just outside of the park.

I secured a site at the local KOA, stopped for dinner, and then headed back into the park, using the Many Glaciers entrance, which leads to an area north of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It was a little too late in the day to go for a hike (about 7pm), so I stopped at a bunch of the viewpoints along the road. My timing was pretty good, because I got to see a moose munching away in Swiftcurrent Lake. I was told of a grizzly that had been sighted near the lake as well, but I didn't see it.


g-na (Anonymously) Sunday, 04 September 2011 8:54am

A moose! That's exciting; I'd love to see a wild moose.

(A m¯¯se once bit my sister. No, realli ...)