Days 92-95 (26th-29th zero days): A tour of the glistening Glacier National Park in Catalina the Cat Bus - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 22, 2022 to July 26, 2022

Days 92-95 (26th-29th zero days): A tour of the glistening Glacier National Park in Catalina the Cat Bus

Note: A couple more photos have been added after the fact. — CG, 7/29

Friday, July 22: Missoula to Willow Creek Campground via Catalina the cat bus

Breakfast in bed at the Travelodge. Packed up slowly as Dani went to a yoga session, then went to get cash and shop for a bike tire in case the tire is flat when we return from Glacier National Park. Grabbed a cookie at Mary's Mountain Cookies. Met Dani, Rob and Jenn at the van pickup location. Got the tutorial on the van from Beth. The van is perfect for this trip. It's named Catalina and we're calling it the cat van (and it has a couple of stickers off characters from the movie about Totoro, including the cat bus, naturally). 

We drove to the Notorious P.I.G. for lunch. Then to Albertsons to stock up on food. Then the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, which was pretty cool. Then to the beautiful Willow Creek Campground. We walked around and saw trumpeter swans and their five babies; I forget what to call them. Singlets?

We set up the van with awning and open top and then roasted hot dogs over a campfire. 

And we made s'mores, of course. The campsite was beautiful, under willow trees along a river. Very pretty night.

Saturday, July 23

Rob, Jenn, Dani and I drove up to Glacier National Park (me driving today) and got some tips from a park ranger at the Apgar visitor center. We stopped at the southern end of Lake McDonald and then went up to the Lake Mcdonald lodge for lunch. We then went out to hike the Trail of the Cedars and the Avalanche Lake trail. The cedar forest, as seen from the boardwalk trail, were very peaceful. The lake was beautiful and offered a majestic view of mountains on which I counted seven different waterfalls.

Sunday, July 24

Rob, Jenn, Dani and I drove the Going-to-the-Sun Road, stopping at Jackson Glacier and then at the St Mary's visitors center. 

Hiked three waterfalls hike: Baring Falls, St. Mary's Falls and Virginia Falls. Lovely little break at the top, where we were cooled by a consistent wave of mist.

Monday, July 25

Rob, Jenn, Dani and I drove (me driving today) to the Logan Pass visitor center and claimed a parking spot early. We popped the top on the cat bus, and Robert cooked breakfast, which we ate inside the van. We then hiked to Hidden Lake, and this was my favorite hike of the trip (although the Trail of the Cedars would win for the most novel for me). I just really enjoyed the pace of this hike and the climb into the clouds and the views of the mountains around us peeking behind the clouds and back. 

A mountain goat strolls along the grassy alpine landscape in front of the hiking trail on our way back from Hidden Lake. In the background, a string of clouds partially obscures the jagged mountains in the distance.
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We trudged through a fair amount of snow (and got to experience snow and mosquitoes at the same time). We encountered a few mountain goats, including a mother and a baby, and at the overlook, we got a beautiful view of a very deep blue Hidden Lake, as well as a couple of marmot sightings. (These are hoary marmots here, unlike the yellow-bellied marmots that Dani and I, and Jenna, saw on a Colorado trip in 2014, the first and only other time we'd seen marmots.)

In the center is Hidden Lake, flanked by Bearhat Mountain to the right and more jagged, snow-streaked mountains in the distance.
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After our hike, we drove further down Going-to-the-Sun Road and stopped at an overlook, where we pulled out the awning and had lunch with an amazing view of the mountains and valley below. 

Left to right, from the center, is Dani, Jenn, Rob and me sitting with the "Cat Van" behind us, its awning above us, and a lovely, sunny view of the valleys and mountains in front of us.
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Next, we went down to the Rising Sun picnic area and set up hammocks and camping chairs along the lake and napped and read. Ahhh.

Then a thunderstorm! Hung out parked at a pullout spot along Going-to-the-Sun Road and watched for bears and played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza in the van. Cruised around to other lookout points to try to spot a grizzly bear (from the safety of the van). We failed at that, but we did see about six elk and something that was probably a fox. 

We really maximized our time in the park today, entering about 20 minutes after the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened at 6 a.m. and leaving about 10 minutes before it closed at 10 p.m. Dinner options were slim at that late hour, so we ended up at a bar called Stonefly, which appeared to be a local favorite. We got ourselves some bad pizza and reveled in the atmosphere when "Heat of the Moment" by Asia started playing over the sound system and people shouted "Turn it up!" and attempted to bang on the bar in time with the music.

A full and wonderful day.

Tuesday, July 26

We slept in a bit later and ate what we had left for breakfast at the campsite in West Glacier, and then we headed back toward Missoula, stopping along the way at the Montana Vortex, which had a pretty cool house built at 18 degrees off from level ... and otherwise left us all even more in doubt about the idea of the vortex. 

I played DJ for the last stretch of the ride to Missoula, and we happened to pass by some kind of preserve for bison, so we did get a passing view of them, even if we didn't see any at Glacier National Park.

In Missoula, we met up with Maureen, who is an old teacher friend of Jenn, and her partner, Ryan. We had dinner at the Iron Horse, and then we walked around town, punctuated by Ryan's knowledge of the area. We walked along and across the river. Stopped at Sweet Peaks for some amazing ice cream (I got the flavors Campground S'mores and Bear Scat, which was dark chocolate with blueberries, including dried blueberries — soooo good). Lovely night.

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Lucy MartinBaby swans are cygnets (I know this thanks to EB White’s Trumpet of the Swan which I read approximately 15 times as a child).
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