What to do when heading for home? Why not hit as many national parks as possible. We started with a repeat of Jasper, then altered the route (skipping crowded Banff) to go through Kootney and Waterton in Canada on our way to Glacier National Park.
We arrived at Glacier about 1pm which proved to be perfect timing to get a first-come-first-served campsite in the park.
Glacier has a history for Mindy and Paul. Mindy’s family was thwarted in traversing the world famous “Going to the Sun” road that crossing Glacier National Park from East to West when she was 11, so to see the full road was on her bucket list. Paul’s eldest sibling Tommy of San Marino CA spent two summer’s (1957-58) in Glacier as a “bellman” when he wasn’t climbing dangerous chimneys in the Rockies or chasing around with his buddies doing what 20 year olds do. And Paul remembered visits there as a 7-year-old and again as a young dad with 5-year-old Christopher.
I digress…back to entering Jasper NP for the 2nd time, wanting to keep moving but seeing the dramatic views and river flows that we missed the first time. We visited Athabaska Falls and Sunwapta Falls the 2 major water falls along the river and then struck it rich when we found 2 bunks open in the Athabaska Hostel just off the Icefield Highway. Young travelers from France, Germany, and other languages I couldn’t decode, families enjoying their vacation, and host Jennifer from Canada who was a delightful source of interest and information to all the hostelites. The next morning gave us a bit more time in Jasper and Banff Nation Parks with stops at the Icefields Center for glacier viewing.
Now how to get to Glacier NP without going thru Calgary and avoiding the ever increasing wildfires all over BC and Alberta? We choose a route thru Kootenny NP and wrapping around the southern border of Canada and north of Glacier-Waterton NPs. Our first time dealing with darkness (after getting spoiled by mid night dusks) and some heavy rains on a windy mountain road toward Crow’s Pass where we thought we had a room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Blairmore, Alberta. Opps, sorry that room booked thru Expedita, was already gone. Debbie the hotel host called around and nothing available. Let’s camp at Lost Lemon the local camoground but did we want to set up our tent in the rain at midnight? Mindy did her switcharoo gig with Redd-Y and slept in the back while Paul snoozed in the passenger seat…we survived just fine and awoke to a bight sunny chilly morning. Paul had a morning walk searching for coffee. Met Shayla the mural artist (photo) and learned the “story of the Crows Nest” from the old man on the bench (photo) who pointed Paul to coffee where Mindy showed up to head to more National Parks.
Paul had always wanted to visit Waterton National Park the partner park with Glacier to form an International Peace Park. A great way to say good bye to our Canada portion of our oddesey (we actually spent more nights in Canada than Alaska) we made the breakfast cut off by one minute at the Prince of Wales Hotel (thanks to Cary Richmond, our house and Pickles care giver at home) for a full English Breakfast before charging in Waterton town and heading for the border.
Our raw eggs were confiscated at Big Chief Mountain entry point and got to Glacier and free entry with Paul’s Lifetime Senior Pass (there are benefits to aging). Found plenty of campsites at Rising Sun campground and caught the shuttle to the top of Going to the Sun Road at Logan Pass. Memories of being 7 years old with 8 foot snow drifts in July at the same place – no snow today. What are we doing here?
Fun hike to Hidden Lake overlook with the throngs and curious wildlife with the highlight being a big old mountain goat popping out of the forest for close up views. Got our stickers and National Park passport to encourage more visits and shared our Cool Planet Simple Steps concept with Ranger Debbie and she will pass on to park educators that are doing a lot to connect park visits with behavior change.
Shuttle back to boat dock and got the GEM of the trip from another Ranger as we bemoaned not seeing a Moose on the entire trip. He knew of a lake, Fishercap near Many Glacier Hotel, where he always sees moose in abundance. Mindy wanted to see where my brother worked in 1957-58 so instead of a quiet dinner at the campsite we rushed off for the 40 minute drive to Many Glacier for memory photos for brother Tommy and me (Christopher and I travelled there on our first big camping trip in 1995).
Met Eric the Bellman (photo) from Mpls who had just finished the evening Hootenanny, he confirmed the moose location and we hustled off to beat the growing darkness. It was magical walking thru the forest and meeting folks with “they’re still there” and “we saw 5 moose”. When we got to the lake most of the people were gone and this huge Bull Moose looked at us then continued his lake dinner, head submerged and then up with the delightful mouthful of lake veggies. A female was doing the same in the middle of the shallow lake. Moon rising, still waters surrounded by mountains….doesn’t get much better. Thank you Mindy for making that moment happen.
Now it’s time to head for home…passing to you honey….like from Nicaragua?