Montana and Alberta, Canada – August 2022
The start of our trip began well. George woke up bright and early (well, at least early!) to take us to the airport, our flights were on time, and we had an empty seat in our row. What a nice change from some of the issues we have had lately with flying. It was nice to get on and through the airports with a limited amount of issues. Especially since flights are always Kathy’s stress point. Arrival in Missoula, Montana was smooth and the airport was small and easy to navigate. First speed bump was when we picked up our rental car (Well, rental SUV. We reserved a compact car, but all they had was a Toyota 4Runner.) We drove off from the airport and discovered the vehicle only had a 1/4 tank full of gas. Really? So a quick stop at Walmart to get a few items (including bear spray!), then gas, and then we were off. First stop had us heading south to visit our first NPS site, Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site where we toured a historic cattle ranching site that included most of the original furniture from the Kohr’s family. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) Kathy sampled a cup of cowboy coffee that was made at an old fashioned chuck wagon. Next stop: the hotel for a much needed rest.
The day started early on Friday where we headed out to visit our next NPS site, Big Hole National Battlefield. Big Hole National Battlefield (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) The battlefield is a part of the Nez Pearce National Historic Park and tells the story of the battle which occurred between the Nimí-pu and US soldiers. The Nimí-pu were famous for their horse breeding. The site is considered sacred as the Nimí-pu who died that day still rest in the hallowed ground. It was a solemn moment to realize that much of the reason so many Native Americans were driven to reservations was to expand the ranching industry and pan for gold. Visiting the two sites back to back gave us both a lot to think about.
Finally we arrived at Glacier NP, or should I say our condo outside of Glacier NP. Arriving we collapsed from the hectic two days and just chilled for a bit before we decided to go hunting for something to eat. Unlike the Nimí-pu, Kathy did not dig up any roots or go hunting, instead she stopped by a nearby minimart store for a frozen pizza and some other essentials to get ready for the next day, which was going to be a long day!!
Saturday morning saw us up bright and early, like really bright and early, like it was really dark. Kathy poured out her first cup of coffee at 04:10 in the morning and we were out the door shortly after 5 am to head up to Glacier NP. The Going to the Sun Road opened up at 06:00 and we were just behind some cars driving up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center to find a parking spot. When we arrived the parking lot was already almost full so good thing we started out as soon as we did. Additionally, the cool morning air made it the perfect time to hike. We started out on the Highline Trail that runs along the side of a mountain with perfect views. We hiked up to a chalet about 7.6 miles in and stopped for our lunch. We had a great conversation with fellow hikers. We then started down the mountain on the Loop Trail for another 4-5 miles to catch the shuttle that would take us to our car. In total we hiked 12 miles and while we hit a few speed bumps along the way we had more Woo Hoo’s and High Fives as we saw a mountain goat, a ptarmigan, a deer about 2 feet off the trail who wouldn’t budge, and some very inquisitive ground squirrels. Making it down and feeling accomplished meant a very happy fist bump and a plan for getting a milkshake, that is, if we can ever walk again. (Ok, Kathy would crawl to get ice cream.) Safely back at our lodging, we are planning for our next hike tomorrow. Glacier National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)