Tuesday, March 18, 2014

We have moved

Hello to all of our blog friends!  We have loved it here over the past few years, but have decided that we need a new address.   Don't worry, we've moved all of our important travel tips and information over the the new space.  Please check out our new blog at 


We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year in Glacier

2013, what can I say?  You've been a pretty darn good year.  Despite the government shutdown (and twerking), you brought new friends, a whole year of sunrises and sunsets, good food, lots of laughter, good health and adventures in open spaces.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

As I smile with good thoughts of the past year, I think about two quotes that I saw this morning.
“What the New Year brings to you, will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year,” by Vern McLellan.
 “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed," by Cavett Robert.  
These, of course, spurred a list.   Here it is...
- Drink more water.  Our bodies are made of up to 50% of it.  No plastic bottles required.
- Say positive things.  It's like a magnet.
- Make more time to be in open spaces.  I never regret it.
- Exercise more.  It's good for my brain.
- Be kind.  It can be a rough world out there.   
- Eat healthy.  "You are what you eat."    
- Reduce.  This could be a term paper, so I will leave it at that.
- Unplug more.  Real connections are made face to face.

May your 2014 be filled with the strength and motivation to carry out your New Year's resolutions.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Glacier National Park's Granite Park and Sperry Chalets

Alright, I'll be honest, I have a lot of favorites when it comes to Glacier National Park.  I can't help it. Different places, people, weather, and situations have made many fond memories for me over the years. However, when people ask me what the "must-see" places are in Glacier, the backcountry chalets are consistently in my top 3.  I could talk for hours about why I love them (but don't worry, I won't).
To keep it short, I'll give you my top ten reasons to go (as if you needed any):

1. Location. Location. Location.  Oh where do I begin (or end)?  These chalets sit amongst mountains, forests, stars, animals, sky, and breathtaking scenery. Simply put, it's phenomenal.
Granite Park Chalet.
2. The Food.  How wonderful is it to hike all day and have someone take care of all the food?  Sperry is full service.  If you go on a Glacier Guides trip, meals are included at Granite as well.  Hearty home cooked meals are never lacking (it's a good thing you have to hike to get there).  
Family style dinner at Sperry.  Photo by Jeff Compton.
3. No cars.   One road is all there is, and the closest it comes to the chalets is 4 miles from Granite and almost 7 from Sperry.  Enough said.  
The Going-to-the-Sun Road sits far below and out of sight of Granite and Sperry.
Photo by Jeff Compton.
4. Flora.  Once you hike the highline trail, you'll never wonder why that area is referred to as the Garden Wall again.  From glacier lilies poking up out of the snow, bear grass and huckleberries, to rare carnivorous butterworts, this area is teeming with plants.  Botanists and photographers might want to give themselves some extra time to hike in.  Oh and hey, the plants going into Sperry are beautiful too.
The gardener here does an amazing job!
5. History.  See America first.  These chalets were originally built by the Great Northern Railway as a marketing plan to get more ridership.  You used to be able to take weeks and travel from chalet to chalet by horse.  Now we are lucky to have the two that are left (the rest were destroyed for lack of interest/money for upkeep).  Sperry and Granite Park were shut down a couple of decades ago due to water issues, but they have since reopened to the public thanks to some passion (and money) from many folks.
Granite was built in 1914. 
6. The weather.  I'm not going to lie, the weather in these locations can be pretty crazy.  Sure sunny days are nice (and do happen quite often in the summer), but sometimes they can be a little ...ordinary. The most memorable days are the ones that are not standard for our everyday lives.  Depending on your job of course, we tend to be sheltered from weather on a day to day basis.  The weather that is customary in the mountains is predictably unpredictable and allow people to really experience Glacier.
The good thing about rain.  Photo by Jeff Compton.

7. The people.  It's fun to know that every single person that comes through that door has walked there. Something that you have in common that instantly gives you a connection to everyone else.  There are so many different types of people with such interesting backgrounds.  I love asking people why they've chosen the chalets.  The answers vary in so many different ways...family, friends, recommendations, nostalgia, and love.  I never lack of good conversations there.
Hanging out at Sperry.  Photo by Jeff Compton.
8. Animals.  If your patient and you are paying attention, there are tons of animals out there.  Over the years of hiking in and out of the chalets I've seen marmots, pika, ground squirrels, mountain goats, big horn sheep, moose, golden eagles, wolves, black bear, grizzly bear and even wolverine.  Sure, some animals are way more likely to be seen than others...but they're all out there.  
Mountain goats are a common site in the alpine areas.
9. The sky.  I know, I know, Montana is referred to as "big sky country."  You hear it a million times if you live here.  But hey, it's no joke.  Wake up to the mountains on fire with morning light.  Make it your evening entertainment to look at skies not even the best artist can truly emulate.  Then end your day with a sky filled with stars beyond stars (beyond stars).  And if your really lucky, you may even be graced with a sighting of the northern lights.  The sky here is big and beautiful, and has so many moods. 
I can't even count how many pictures I have of the sunset from Granite Park Chalet.  Thank goodness for digital cameras, because just when you think that the sky is as beautiful as it's going to get...just wait...you'll snap 10 more pictures.  
A prize for the early risers.
Conversations over a Granite sunset are the best.
10. Glaciers.  Yeah, you've probably read about climate change, and whether or not you believe it's real, the glaciers here are getting smaller.  Scientists predict that all the glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone as early as the year 2020.  It seems unreal to see that kind of change in my lifetime, but for now you can still see several glaciers within hiking distance from these chalets.  Sperry glacier, just a 2 mile hike from the chalet, is one you can actually go and touch.  
Grinnell Glacier Overlook, a short hike from Granite.
Touching Sperry Glacier!  Photo by Jeff Compton.










There it is.  My top 10.
And if I had to add an 11th, it would be beds because as my friend Greg likes to say, "sometimes you just don't want to sleep in a tent" (plus you don't have to carry your bedding on your back).

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Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company offers 3 and 6 day trips to Granite and Sperry Chalets.
This is a great way to see the chalets.  Our knowledgeable and experienced guides are there to educate guests on flora, fauna, glaciers, history, etc...and to cook delicious meals at Granite.  Plus everything is taken care of (route, food, reservations, and transportation).  
New 2014 season dates are now in and reservations are being taken.

These trips fill up fast, so start getting your ducks in a row if you are interested in joining a group.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Snow in Glacier Park.

This past weekend I watched as most of the golden aspen leaves were blown from the branches and onto the ground.  It's hard to describe the energy around my house when we looked out the window this weekend and saw small, white specks falling out of the sky.  "It's snowing, it's snowing!" my kids shrieked as they open the door and let the cold air rush in.  

 So I ventured into the depths of the closet to dig out and dust off the snowsuits that had been hibernating all summer long.  The boots went on, hats got pulled over bare ears and lone mittens got held while I scrambled to find their mate.  Then we were out the door.
We know that if it's snowing in town that there's even more snow in Glacier.  Just a 20 minute drive to Lake McDonald.  So that's the direction we headed. 

We got out of the car and heard the sound of fresh snow getting packed under our boots as we walked.  The weird crunching sound made me smile.  The kids plowed through shin deep snow through the woods and down to the water.
The mountains were draped in clouds and the trees had snow on every branch.  
Colorful fall leaves lay half covered along the shoreline.
I looked back to see my kids rolling in the snow and perma-grins stretching across their little faces. 
Snow angels were a must.
 There is something about the excitement of the first snow that is different than any other season.  
I think it's because the change is so drastic. 
 Thoughts of day trips into Avalanche Lake, up the Inner North Fork Road, a visit to Bowman Lake, across the North Fork prairies or a windy east-side adventure made me grin.  
Good thing too, because we have 7 more months of it...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hiking Outside of Glacier National Park.

Yahoo!  Glacier is OPEN to the public again!  
From the outside looking in.
The government shutdown seemed to be the main topic of conversation lately.  While I was bummed that I couldn't enter the park to hike in one of my favorite places, I suddenly had the time to explore the dozens of other outdoor opportunities in this area.  Many people think that Glacier and the Going-to-the-Sun road are the only things to do, but trust me there are no lack of wild settings and beautiful vistas around here. Whether you are looking for a day hike or backpacking trip, Glacier is wonderful, but not your only option.

There is a plethora of places to hike outside Glacier and, to tell you the truth, hiking in these area can have a lot of benefits...the scenery is beautiful, there's lots of wildlife, NO crowds, you can bring your dog, no overnight permits, and no entrance fee.  The Flathead National Forest is the closest and largest area and I think it's your best option for hiking if the park is closed (or even if it's not).  It's comprised of many different districts (some very close to Glacier National Park while others are a much farther drive).

NOTE:   Many of these trails are accessed by dirt roads so a four wheel drive is nice (but not required). Hunting is popular in the fall and I would advise wearing orange during any hunting season.  See the Flathead National Forest website for a complete listing of trails.
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Flathead National Forest

The Great Bear Wilderness: 
Hungry Horse District, along Hwy 2
Skipping rocks at Stanton Lake.  
The Great Bear is over 286,000 acres and is sandwiched in between Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  It is one of three wilderness areas south of Glacier that when combined totals over 1.5 million acres.  Yep, that's right, that's bigger than Glacier.  Some of the closest hiking in this area can be accessed right along highway 2 in between West and East Glacier.  This area is particularly pretty in the fall when all the larch and cottonwood are golden yellow.
On a trail along hwy 2 looking back into the park.
Great hikes in this area include:  Dickey Lake, Marion Lake, Stanton Lake (a popular short hike), Ousel Peak, Skiumah LakeGrant Ridge Trail, Big River Trail, Giefer Creek Trail,
Click the following for more information and stories about the Great Bear Wilderness or for basic trail information.

Hungry Horse District: Along Hungry Horse Reservoir 
An alpine lake on the other side of the Mt.Baptiste lookout.
Many of the hiking trails in this area have wonderful views into the lesser traveled wilderness area as well as views of the reservoir (which can be quite beautiful even though it's not a natural lake). There are trails on both sides of Hungry Horse Reservoir that are fairly easy to access.  Because of the wilderness area, trails on the east-side of the reservoir tend have more hikers and the trails along the west-side (non-wilderness) are more popular for the multi-use visitor (horseback, biking, motorized use, etc..).
Mountain Views from Clayton Creek road.
Great hikes in this area include:  Mt. Baptiste Lookout,  Columbia Mountain LoopLion Lake Trail (great short hike for young kids), Walk with Larch Trail, Wounded Buck Trail, Doris Ridge Trail.

Jewel Basin Hiking Area: Hungry Horse District
Picnic Lakes.
The Jewel Basin is designated for hiking only, because of this it makes it a very popular area for local hikers.  Its trails are accessed east of Kalispell (northeast of Bigfork) at the northern end of the Swan Mountain Range. The Basin is 15,349 acres and has 27 lakes and about 35 miles of trails.  This area can be harder to reach in the spring due to snow (making it popular with backcountry skiers), but is a great spot to hike throughout the summer and into the fall.  Dogs are allowed but must be on leashes.
See visitmt.com for more information about the Jewel Basin.
Great hikes in this area include:  Mt. Aeneas, Picnic Lakes LoopTongue Mountain Trail, Birch Lake TrailBlackfoot Lake.

Glacier View Ranger District
Looking into Glacier from the northern part of the Glacier View district.
This is a great area to hike in because of it's proximity to the park.  Is stretches the length of the park on the west-side and is most easily accessed through a popular valley called the "North Fork."  It is a 20-35 mile drive on the dirt North Fork road. The rustic town of Polebridge is a favorite stop for many visitors to this area.  It's like going back in time where no landlines, cell service, running water or electricity are the norm for folks.  Because of its location, many of the hikes have amazing views of the entire west-side of the park from the Canadian border all the way down to the Great Bear Wilderness.  For those staying after the sunset, stargazing here is wonderful due to the lack of lights.
Glacier View.  Literally.
Great hikes in this area:  Demers Ridge, Glacier View, Moose Peak trail, Link Lake trailNasukoin Mtn trail (highest peak in Glacier View district), Ninko-thompson Seton trail, Kimmerly Creek trail.

Other Options:
The Missions.
Although the trails that have been mentioned here are some of the closest areas to visit from West Glacier, there are plenty of other places worth checking out.  Depending on the direction that you are headed to and what type of experience you are seeking, you may be interested in:

Day hiking and/or extended overnight trips: Bob Marshall Wilderness (Seeley Lake/Condon/South end of Hungry Horse Reservoir), Scapegoat Wilderness (Lincoln/Augusta/Ovando), Tally Lake Ranger District (south/west of Whitefish), Mission Mountains (Ronan), Ten Lakes Scenic Area (Eureka).
Day hiking near town: Lone Pine State Park and Foys to Blacktail trails (Kalispell),   Whitefish Trail (Whitefish), Blackfeet Nation (East Glacier, St. Mary, Babb).  In order to hike on the Blackfeet reservation you must get a tribal recreation permit.

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When going into Glacier isn't an option, or you just want to extend your stay in West Glacier and explore, there's plenty to do.  I came here to work for a summer 16 years ago and I'm still finding new and exciting places to wander through.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

River, Roads and Trails Report for the Glacier Park Area 9.14.13


The crowds are gone form the trails and the river, the animals are out and about, and the colors are starting to turn on the eastern side of the park.  No wonder most of the locals love this time of year...

RIVERS –
The Middle Fork is running at 1.90 feet / 692 cfs.
The North Fork is running at 2.20 feet / 1010 cfs.
The crowds are gone and the river is beautiful and relaxing.  If you are looking for more of a thrill this low level is great for inflatable kayaks.

FISHING –
The river system has been fishing well (and getting better since this weeks storms).  Our guides have been fond of the North Fork especially.

HIKING AND CAMPING –
Trail POSTINGS: Highline trail to Granite Park Chalet, St. Mary Falls from Jackson Glacier Overlook to Sun Point, and Gunsight Lake to Sperry are all POSTED for bear frequenting.
Campground POSTINGS: Gunsight and Sperry are POSTED for bear frequenting.
Campground CLOSURES: Lake Ellen Wilson is CLOSED for bears.

ROADS-
All roads are currently open. 
Expect delays for construction along the Going-to-the-Sun Road during the week (up to 15 min on the west and 30 on the east).  GTTSR is closed to traffic from 9 pm to 7 am. 
The last day to reach Logan Pass from the east-side is September 22nd and October 15th on the west-side.
The free shuttle along the GTTSR is now done for the season.

WEATHER-
West Glacier:
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 81. Northeast wind 9 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Sunday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Light and variable wind becoming south southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Monday: A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 77. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Tuesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 66.
Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 61.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72.
Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.


St. Mary:
Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 46. North wind 7 to 9 mph.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 71. North northeast wind 8 to 10 mph becoming east in the afternoon.
Sunday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 74. South southeast wind around 10 mph.
Monday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 72. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Tuesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 60.
Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 55.
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 63.
Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 66.


GLACIER NEWS-
September 09, 2013 
Lower McDonald Creek Bridge Rehabilitation 
Repair Work Begins Next Week, Expect Short Delays
September 04, 2013 
Man Falls in Crevasse at Jackson Glacier 
Spends Night in Backcountry Campground
September 04, 2013 
Glacier Youth Corps Partnership Program Begins 
Volunteer Program Exposes Youth to Diverse Park Jobs

Thursday, September 5, 2013

River, Roads and Trails Report for the Glacier Park Area 9.5.2013

Another beautiful day in the park, heading to Grinnell Glacier.


RIVERS –
The Middle Fork is running at 1.90 feet / 712 cfs.
The North Fork is running at 2.18 feet / 989 cfs.
This low level is a great time to float the river in inflatable kayaks.

FISHING –
The river system has been fishing well.  Our guides have been fond of the North Fork especially. It hasn’t been quite as hot so the fish are biting a bit more.  The fishing is definitely better than after a storm (which they are calling for this week).

HIKING AND CAMPING –
Trail POSTINGS: Highline trail to Granite Park Chalet, St. Mary Falls from Jackson Glacier Overlook, and Gunsight Lake to Sperry are all POSTED for bear frequenting.
Trail CLOSURES: Trail of the Cedars boardwalk is closed due to minor storm damage.
Campground POSTINGS: Waterton, Gunsight, and Sperry are POSTED for bear frequenting.
Campground CLOSURES: Upper Two Medicine, Lake Ellen Wilson and (Logging Lake front country) are CLOSED for bears.

ROADS-
All roads are currently open. 
Expect delays for construction along the Going-to-the-Sun Road during the week (up to 15 min on the west and 30 on the east).  GTTSR is closed to traffic from 9 pm to 7 am. 
The last day to reach Logan Pass from the east-side is September 22nd and October 15th on the west-side.
The free shuttle along the GTTSR is now done for the season.
Expect delays along Hwy 2 at the Berne Memorial Park area for construction starting September 9th.

WEATHER-
West Glacier:

Today: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after noon. Some storms could be severe, with hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 83. East wind around 5 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce small hail and gusty winds. High near 69. Light and variable wind becoming southeast 5 to 8 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 69. North northeast wind 5 to 9 mph becoming west southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Sunday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 71.

Monday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 78.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

St. Mary:

Today: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after noon. Some of the storms could produce small hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Calm wind becoming east southeast 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce small hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 68. North northwest wind 5 to 7 mph.

Saturday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 66. West northwest wind 3 to 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Sunday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 66.

Monday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 69.

Tuesday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76.

GLACIER NEWS-
September 04, 2013 
Man Falls in Crevasse at Jackson Glacier 
Spends Night in Backcountry Campground
September 04, 2013 
Glacier Youth Corps Partnership Program Begins 
Volunteer Program Exposes Youth to Diverse Park Jobs
September 04, 2013 
Road Corridor Management Plan Comments Due 
Submit Public Scoping Comments by September 6
September 03, 2013 
Thursday Storm Weather Causes Minor Damage 
Trail of the Cedars Boardwalk Closed for Repairs
August 28, 2013 
Fall Schedule Begins After Labor Day 
Free Shuttle Service Operates Through Monday, September 2

Until next week...