Dates: 7/19/21 – 7/24/21
Training Day: Doesn’t matter
Bear Sightings: 3 (two of the same bear)
Lakes Paddled: 2
Stumps Hit: 1
Before heading to Glacier, my sister and I went to Upper Whitefish Lake. It’s a small lake about 15 miles down a dirt road, and it’s perfect for paddleboarding. We didn’t stay long because we wanted to get a dispersed camping spot close to Glacier.
We ended up finding a decent home along a dirt road, and got up stupid early to get into the park. Since Glacier started doing ticketed entry on Going to the Sun Road from 6am to 5pm, a shit ton of folks now get up stupid early to get into the park because, like us, they didn’t have a ticket.
My last visit to Glacier I got to Logan Pass around 6am and the parking lot had maybe two dozen cars. I was also the first one on Highline Trail. This time, at 6am, the parking lot was over half full and a ton of folks were already hiking. I believe the ticketed entry idea was not well thought out.
Anyway, my sister isn’t in as good of shape as she used to be, so we did three miles on Highline and another mile and a half to Baring Falls. Then we attempted to go to the Many Glacier side of the park, but they weren’t letting folks in because all the parking was full. But, we did get to see a grizzly off the side of a road!
On the way back to camp we wanted to clean up a bit, so we stopped along the middle fork of the Flathead. My sister didn’t get in, but I braved the icy water!
The next day we packed up camp and headed to Polebridge with the hopes of getting a campsite at either Kintla or Bowen Lake. On the way we stopped at a dispersed camping site to check it out, and we met a really nice woman with her four adorable and very well behaved kids. We chatted for a bit and then made our way to Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery for their famous huckleberry bear claws. We also got jalapeño and peach mango salsa rollies, which are like a savory version of a cinnamon roll lying on its side.
Just like Many Glacier, all the parking was full on the Polebridge side of Glacier. So, we went back to the campsites with the nice lady and her kids and hung out with them for the rest of the day. I made this fantastic and delicious sandwich out of my rollie, and my sister and I decided we needed to hit the Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery in the morning before starting our journey south.
In the morning it was downright cold and super foggy. While my sister went to the bathroom I grabbed my car and did what I could to clear my windshield so I could see. Then I crept through the campground, making my way to the vault toilet next to the dirt parking lot.
I hit a fucking low stump at the corner of the parking lot! The stupid little thing was just high enough to crush the lower part of my radiator. I walked over to the bathroom, and as my sister walked out I sheepishly looked at her and said, “I fucked up.”
We used my InReach to send a message to my brother-in-law, who called the insurance company and got a tow truck out to us. While waiting for a rental car to become available, my sister and I grabbed lunch at the brewery and made appointments to get tattoos. My rental ended up being a minivan, and let me tell you, it was so much more spacious than my station wagon!
Since our tattoo appointments were the following day, we went back to Upper Whitefish Lake for the night. While we were there we got to see a fire helo picking up water from the lake.
The next day we arrived on time for our tattoos… And waited for our artist. We waited 30 minutes before walking out. My sister called around and found a guy willing to tattoo after his current appointment.
Gabe graciously stayed nearly four hours after closing time to make sure my sister and I got our tattoos. And he did an amazing job! Because we got done late and were in Kalispell, we decided to take advantage of the roomy van and sleep inside it at the Cabela’s parking lot.
Instead of parking right in front of Cabela’s, which was part of a strip mall, we parked next to hill at the end of the shopping complex. Plenty of other vehicles we parked all over for the night, so we felt safe.
In the middle of the night we heard a knock, but not on our vehicle. Then we heard a man say, “No overnight parking. You need to move your vehicle.” This happened to quite a few more cars, and I laid there, waiting for him to knock on our minivan.
I fell asleep waiting for that knock, and it never came. At 6:30am we got up, got breakfast, and made our way to Idaho Falls.
Endlessly seeking adventure.