Glacier National Park Trip Report August 2023

Old Aug 20th, 2023, 07:27 AM
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Glacier National Park Trip Report August 2023

Dream trip for me . . . 24 hours on my own in park, then I joined a 5 day Road Scholar tour that had guided hikes, lectures, a boat trip and a float trip. Sunday, August 6th . . . Left the house at 4:45 a.m., temperature a humid 78 to meet the Groome shuttle to the Atlanta airport. Arrived at airport by 6:15, exactly 2 hours before my flight left. All went smoothly for the 4 hour flight to Salt Lake City, easily made the tight 40 minute connection to board the next flight to Kalispell and then another 1 ˝ hours in the air.

It’s getting harder to leave so early, to deal with the airport when my body is normally asleep. It wasn’t until I got the jolt of both sugar (orange juice) and caffeine (coffee) while in flight, to have with the breakfast I had brought along, that I felt really functional. But, oh, it is nice to get out of Atlanta before the clouds have a chance to start stewing up for the day.

First time to be near Salt Lake City & landscape is flat, pinkish dry sand and then shallow rather whitish lakes, including a big one. Kalispell was my first experience with a “non-major city” airport – it was small but busy; it felt like I was immediately walking outside the airport, into a rather smoke hazed cool landscape, hearing my cell phone beep that Mountain Shuttle had just pulled up for me before I had time to catch my breath.

Time was about 1:15 MDT; 8 hours after I had left Atlanta I was in a different very different climate. I was the only passenger on the shuttle for this hour long run; driver was a native of area and told me the mountains should be sharp against a blue sky but they were in “smoke season”. All depended on the wind, he said, since there were no big fires close by, it could clear up soon. And by the time we reached the park, it was starting to get much better.

I had my motel reservation printed out, my national park pass ready, both are required to enter the park before 3:00 p.m. Line wasn’t bad at all; neither was the “under construction” road from the West entrance at Apgar to Lake McDonald. I was so struck by the beauty of McDonald Creek; then the lake along the road, with mountains & all sorts of evergreen trees. My first time in Montana. I had been expecting a boring forest like Yellowstone (which is mostly lodge pole pines) but this had big, beautiful fir, spruce and western cedar with a few aspen mixed in. Very nice.

My Road Scholar tour, which started at 4:30 Monday, would be staying at Motel Lake McDonald so that’s where my reservation for my one night on my own was, too. I was able to check in when I arrived about 2:15 and the motel receptionist was very helpful with maps, handouts, telling me where to catch park shuttle, how to easily walk to the Lake shore and the nearby Lake McDonald Lodge.

I got a corner upstairs room; hauled suitcase up the stairs and then headed over to catch the shuttle to Apgar, the West Glacier headquarters. I was hoping for some ranger advice, hoping the Visitors Center would have displays, information, etc. to get me oriented for some exploring on my own the next day. Didn’t know how well my energy would hold up but beautiful weather & scenery kept me going.

There were 2 young rangers set up in front of tables outside the Visitor’s Center (with lines of folks with questions). I asked for an easy, well populated hiking trail at Apgar and for information on the shuttles . . . ranger assured me that I could take the bike trail through the village, then get on the Ox-Bow Meadow loop trail and it would be easy to follow & I would have plenty of company on it. No worries on the shuttle either; it ended at 8:00 p.m.

So, I filled my water bottle & headed down the paved biking trail. The trees, the sky, the ferns, the chirping noises in the forest . . . I was somewhere different and very thrilled. But, then, in about half of a mile, when I crossed the road and came to the actual trail, I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t see other people. But I went along for a ways, as it followed the creek, and it was lovely. I could hear birds (and occasionally did see other hikers). My best moment was when I startled some grouse. It was beautiful but as the creek made its twists and turns, the exact trail was not as clear, and I’d been several minutes without seeing other people so I retraced my steps. I stayed walked along the creek beside the road for just a bit and could see down the creek where there were 2 fawns frisking and playing in the water while their mother was drinking, totally unaware of me watching them.

Back on the bike trail, I found a bench & just enjoyed being outside, glad to send a few texts while I had good cell service (very little at Lake McDonald or elsewhere deeper in the park). By the time I got back to Visitor’s Center it was 6:00 p.m. so I wandered around reading the displays and then headed over to wait, alone, for my shuttle. Finally, at 6:30, one pulled up and disgorged a big crowd but driver surprised to find me, wanting a ride going east back into the park. Luckily, I hadn’t been any later than 6:30 because that’s when shuttle service ends at Apgar and generally they don’t have anyone wanting to go east at that time of time; they are only bringing people out of the park.

Either I mis-understood ranger or they aren’t very up on the routines of the shuttle but all ended well. Once “home”, I had a mini-picnic supper then down by the lake. The nearby Lodge (lovely, built in 1914) has outdoor seating and there’s public benches, boat dock, etc., and also there’s the shore of the lake that one can walk along for a short ways until vegetation and rocks make it hard to find a path. A lovely night, I got to see the sun set.

Monday, August 7th

No kettle (certainly no microwave) in the motel room; motel office (with lovely free coffee) doesn’t open until 8:00 a.m. so I visited the general store for quick coffee and a power bar. I had my lunch & water in backpack and was at the shuttle pick-up by 8:00, when first shuttle was suppose to come. I was planning a loose and leisurely day but for the backpackers there, it was not a nice thing to wait an extra 30 minutes for the first bus to appear.

There was a crowd already waiting for the smaller shuttle to take them on the Logan Pass so I decided to do some exploring at Avalanche & wait for later. Trails here were very well marked and very busy; no worries about bears or getting lost. I wandered through the very easy flat Trail of the Cedars (area is described as being a bit like a Pacific rainforest, it is in one of the warmest and wettest areas of Glacier). Lovely, lovely big trees.

Then, I headed up the more difficult trail to Avalanche Lake. I’ve not had much experience in the mountain west but this reminded me more of the Smokies than I expected. Not as lush, very little undergrowth, but still, big, strong trees. For a long time, the trail went along the creek. It was a beautiful day; a joy to be outside. I knew I would be hiking this trail again with the Road Scholar group but so enjoyed being on my own, at my own pace, getting used to the elevation.

At home, I would have been using a hiking stick or a trekking pole but I hadn’t wanted to check luggage to bring the trekking pole. So, I was cautious but trail not too bad.

After about an hour, I retraced my steps down the trail and made my way back to the shuttle stop. This time I was in line for the small shuttles heading up to Logan Pass. The crowd had thinned since earlier but there were people waiting. I talked to a young woman who was at the park with her boyfriend (and some family members that they had gotten on an earlier shuttle). When shuttle drove up, the driver announced he could take 10 & counted us off. I just missed the cut-off. While he went off for water, my young friend motioned me on the shuttle. “Here, there’s an empty seat by me”, she said, “He must have mis-counted.” (Her boyfriend had taken the one seat by the driver for best views.)

So, I had a great time on the 50 minute drive up to Logan Pass (the Continental Divide, highest point on the Going-to-the Sun Road) – my new friend had grown up in Alaska and could identify some of the wildflowers and trees that I didn’t know (and it was her 3rd or 4th time to visit Glacier.) When we were almost at Logan Pass, the driver stopped at another shuttle spot and announced to the 6 or 8 folks waiting there that he had room for 2 people. When it turned out there was only 1 seat open, he was confused and said he must have mis-counted. My companion and I didn’t confess but we had no idea that seats were saved for an additional shuttle stop. Lesson learned.

Logan Pass was as busy as Avalanche; with full parking lot and cars constantly circling for spaces. My intention was to hike towards Hidden Lake, to see how far I could get, and then go out for just a bit on the High Line trail, again just to see what it was like. Both looked like they had amazing views. Hidden Lake trail was steep, boardwalked to protect the soft terrain (that was covered in wild flowers). After a while, I joined a few folks resting on the rocks and just enjoyed the views, the sun and even people-watching. The people coming down were excited about seeing bighorn sheep and mountain goats up a bit further. I was tiring though and it was already early afternoon.

By the time I got down again, I decided I didn’t have time to get myself across the road to walk just a bit on the High Line trail (a decision I later regretted!) since I knew I would be back with group on Thursday. I allowed lots of time to catch & change shuttle but my timing must have been good; at 2:00, there were not many people heading back west yet so I didn’t have a long wait. I ate a late snack lunch from my backpack while waiting on shuttle; was “home again” by 3:30 with time to relax before the 4:30 registration for my tour (held in the fine old Auditorium attached to the Lodge).

This was my 3rd Road Scholar trip but my first one to a national park, my first one that included hiking. I knew we would have 4 levels and 4 options for hikes, each with its own guide. Still, I was surprised at the size of the total group (38, it had been at the max number of 40 but a couple had dropped out the day before).

After our introductions & directions, we were turned loose about 6:00 for dinner – we had vouchers for dinner that night at the Lodge restaurant that included our choice of any of their 6 entrees, a starter and a dessert.

We all immediately headed to dinner, of course, and immediately got in a long line. It seems it is a formal restaurant, with formal seating, and we would not be sitting at the long tables that most tours wind up at. I found another couple & single person to make up a 4 person seating; we didn’t wait long for a table but service itself was very slow that evening as we filled the restaurant. Very good curried lentil soup, apple roasted pork loin, asparagus tips, mashed potatoes and huckleberry pie for dessert. After 24+ hours of eating snacks and peanut butter sandwiches, that was heavenly.

To be continued . . .
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Old Aug 20th, 2023, 12:30 PM
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Along for the hike!
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Old Aug 21st, 2023, 05:04 AM
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There will be more hikes but not as much hiking as I would have liked, wish I had visited park 40 years ago. And there will be book recommendations at the end.
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Old Aug 24th, 2023, 06:04 AM
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I am happy you are taking us along with you on this trip. I might consider this kind of a group experience when I am a bit older. Thanks for the start and keep on posting!
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Old Aug 27th, 2023, 02:50 PM
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Sorry for the delay in resuming trip report. I've had Covid . . . a common travel souvenir these days. I am grateful for Road Scholar to give me the opportunities to keep hiking and visiting national parks. In the past, my husband and I did a lot of car trips, tent camping and hiking in the national parks but nowadays, I need easier options. But the driving, camping, and planning one's own hikes and making adjustments just for one's own family is definitely the way to go when possible. Tuesday, August 8th

First day of touring got off to a rocky start with a very hectic breakfast experience at the Lake McDonald Lodge. We were leaving on vans at 8:00 a.m. so our tour leader told us to get to breakfast early since there was another (Taouk) tour group staying at the lodge that would be departing early also.

I thought breakfast might be crowded but didn’t anticipate that the lodge restaurant still would insist on seating everyone instead of letting folks find their own spots. I found companions to join to get a four person table but still waited in line for quite a while. And then, it seemed they expected their wait staff to pour the water & coffee, instead of having self service for that. Dining room was packed & the buffet was constantly running out of food, especially fruit. I did manage to find a coffee pot and pour my own; otherwise, I might not get any.

Beautiful morning, with just enough chill to start out with a flannel shirt over my thin long sleeve shirt. This was the first day of hiking for the group & our leader went over the practicalities as we were gathered by the van. There would be 4 “levels” with 4 guides – fastest group (Mountain Goats)would make it up to Avalanche Lake & hike around it, second group (Moose)would hike some around the lake, third group (Bears) would make it to the Lake and have lunch there, fourth group (Fox) would do the much, much easier and shorter hike called “Trail of the Cedars”. (which I had done on Monday on my own.) Unfortunately, we didn’t sort ourselves out very well by ability.

I think the fastest group did well but people in the 2nd and 3rd levels didn’t understand what the elevation would do to their stamina, this trip had a steep incline in places, was rocky and had some tree roots. I suspect some folks were still dealing with trip exhaustion, too; I was lucky that my flights had gone well and that I had arrived a day early.

We had all had packs, carrying our own water and the lunches that were provided by the tour (and whatever else people thought was necessary). Road Scholar provided trekking poles & our guides gave demonstrations on how to use them and helped adjust them. I chose not to use them although at home I hike with a hiking stick or with one trekking pole. I didn’t want to add strange poles to the mix of hiking in a large group and unknown steepness of the hike.

My group was the largest of the 4 and was the slowest of the 3 that were headed to Avalanche Lake. Too late, several of us realized we should have had more confidence in ourselves and gone with the Moose. Hike was lovely; lots of big trees, views of mountains, a fast running stream along the trail but also a very busy trail. . We finally got to a section with lots of vegetation & then the Lake itself, another one of the amazing shades of blue green that I’ve never seen in lakes before. We saw the Mountain Goats and Moose groups finishing up their extended hikes but we were running late; we had a hurried lunch on rocks and logs in the shade, with a view of the greenish waters of the lake and with a Stellar jay & chipmunks to keep us entertained but no time to explore the shore or test out how chilly the water was.

The return trip was hard for some of the participants; we were late getting back to the van and late then for our 2:30 lecture back at the Lodge Auditorium. I was sorry about that because the part that I heard was very interesting . . . Marilyn is a wildlife biologist, a guide for one of the groups and she had worked in and around Yellowstone and Glacier for a long career and seemed to be doing guiding and other such things in retirement more for the fun and joy of sharing the park than any other reason.

A bit of a break and then time for our 4:30 boat tour of Lake McDonald. We were mixed in with other passengers & I was glad I had gotten to the boat early; it was full even though there had been a very brief, light shower a few minutes beforehand. We got more history of the park & views of the large lake itself from this – I learned that the shore was public; I could scramble further down the lake even though there were private rentals and docks there.

We had a voucher for the Tuesday night pizza and salad buffet at Jammers – I liked the building and setup, huge floor to ceiling windows, large tables, very informal but the pizza itself was not good. Salad was fine and best of all was getting a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then lots of huckleberry syrupy cobbler to put on top.

People were very tired; the hike would turn out to be the hardest one of the trip (because the weather would jinx the Logan Pass hikes) and I suspect it had been frustrating for our guides, too, as there were several falls (no injuries though).

I went down to the lake again after supper to check out the sun disappearing over the mountains. One disappointment for me on trip was I never managed to stay out late enough or get up early enough to see stars (even in August, it was light outside at 6 a.m.)

Wednesday, August 9th

Breakfast was less crowded without the other tour group & I was already in line before their 6:30 opening. This time I found delicious plain yogurt (in little bowls) and a good variety of fruits and nuts to go on it. Even got coffee and water poured for me. I had really felt sorry for the much harried staff the day before.

This was the day for our crossing the park on the Going-to-the Sun Road. We divided up into hiking groups again (although our hike would be shorter and easier this time) and I really enjoyed Marilyn, the Moose guide – she had great stories of her National Park and Nature Conservancy career, of animals, of times in the park and was very knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna.

Temperature was fine but it was mostly cloudy, not the blue sky day that I’d had on Monday when I’d been on the park shuttle. Amazing ride up to Logan Pass; now, I had someone to name the mountains, tell the stories of the tunnels and the building of the road, point out the High Line Trail, etc. We stopped at a couple of the overlooks; especially nice was the one for Jackson Glacier, which was high up one mountain. It wasn’t big and was near one of the few remaining snow fields. The driver had good binoculars; with them, I could see the fissures in the ice and see the difference between the two. Very easy to believe that soon the glaciers will be gone.

We trundled along until stopping at the St. Mary’s Visitor Center on the east side, where the wind was whipping the 3 flags (United States, Canada, Blackfeet Nation) around. Almost clear skies now, a little cooler than on the west side. We saw the 15 minute park film (which I don’t remember at all now); then drove on through parts of the Blackfeet reservation, up and past the Many Glaciers Lodge, to Swiftcurrent Lodge & General Store (with bathrooms). At the end of the parking lot, was the trailhead to Redrock Falls. We were starting the hike about 11:00 and took a quick detour as the hike began to Fishercap Lake, which was suppose to be a good moose spotting place. A pretty lake but no moose.

The trail itself was very interesting; Marilyn kept up a running commentary about the plants, the trees (which were different than the most common ones on the western side of park, lots of aspens) and especially all the berries that bordered the trail (huckleberry, thimbleberry and service berry). Thimbleberries are very pretty and tasty; no wonder the bears like them. She pointed out grizzly scat but we saw no bears. This time we had sorted ourselves out into better groups and we were able to go at a more even pace. Also nice was that this trail, while we met plenty of other hikers, was not nearly as crowded as the one for Avalanche Lake.

We reached the lake & then hiked up to eat our lunch at the falls. Beautiful wildflowers all along this section, whole clumps of them. The Mountain Goats were well ahead of us; hiked up well above the falls.

As we got close to the trailhead, gray clouds started piling up. We drove the couple of miles down to the beautiful Many Glacier Lodge for some exploring time there. This lodge was directly on Swiftcurrent Lake, a lovely setting, even more so than the Lodge at McDonald Lake. Mount Grinnel is the main eye candy right across from the lake. I had hoped to take the trail around the lake but just as I was out of the lodge, the rain started.

It was never the downpour that I’m used to in GA but it didn’t let up, so I propped myself up under the lodge's eaves and just watched the rain on the lake, watched the birds (including an osprey) and enjoyed the differences in scenery. Eventually I went exploring some in the lodge; it had a beautiful interior, lots of seating, big gift shops, lots of interesting details, lots of wood. Would love to stay there!

We drove slowly back over the Going-to-the Sun Road, making a brief stop at the pull out for Wild Goose Island on St. Mary’s Lake. It is a beautiful spot, much photographed, and I got out to make my attempt but the wind was lashing the bits of rain right at me – no fun and no successful photo.

I kept expecting the rain to stop but it was still raining lightly when we got back to Lake McDonald; the mountains had looked very different in the gray, misty rain than in the previous sunshine. The roadside waterfalls were flowing noticeably faster, too.

Dinner was at the Lodge again; I had the same curry lentil soup (only soup choice) and asparagus, local trout with wild rice, and a wonderful dense chocolate cake for dessert. Restaurant not as crowded as first evening; much more pleasant experience.

I walked around the lake some, sat on the pavilion in front of the boat dock & talked to folks, but it had been a tiring day – and ahead would be our challenging hike to Hidden Lake at Logan Pass tomorrow. The weather forecasts were concerning, too; predicted high, for McDonald Lake area, was 65 and we would be almost 3,000 feet higher elevation for hiking tomorrow.

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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 09:13 AM
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Thursday, August 10th

This should have been a morning to spend inside, to have a leisurely breakfast. It was cold, very windy, very cloudy and foggy, but with limited time and a schedule to keep, we were in the vans by 8:00 to do our Logan Pass hikes. I was with the “2nd” of the 4 hiking groups, with my group from the day before and Candace as our hiking leader. The plan was for us to hike to the Hidden Lake overlook and then go on, possibly to Hidden Lake itself, and then to cross the highway for a very brief walk on the “High Line” trail, to turn around when it gets to very narrow section (which has a rope to hang on to).

I loaned my fleece jacket to my roommate but otherwise wore everything I had – longsleeve Tshirt, flannel shirt, scarf, windbreaker and hat. I needed that fleece jacket when we got out. I pulled up the windbreaker hood and then put the hat on top of it. The wind was fierce, no sun, very poor visibility. We huddled up next to the Visitor Center while some people, including our guide, went in to buy heavy sweatshirts to add to their layers. One of my fellow hikers, from Minnesota, loaned me her thin “snow gloves” that she had brought and they really helped.

Our guide tried talking to us about the plants & rocks as we got started but the wind was so strong, it seemed to blow her words away, as well as go right through all our clothes. Most of this hike has a boardwalk, that it is important to stay on for protection of delicate alpine plants.

There was a moment or two on this hike when the wind seemed capable of blowing me off the boardwalk. There were moments of amazing cloud scenery but no views of Hidden Lake when we reached the overlook. Candace said bighorn sheep and mountain goats usually could be seen there but not today, any animal with any sense would be bedded down. She tried making the sounds of the little pikas, which she had been telling us about, but they were burrowed in too. This hike was a big disappointment; I am so glad I saw Logan’s Pass on that sunny warm Monday when I rode the park shuttle and wish I had walked further then.

Candace turned us loose to walk at our own pace back down & said she would find us a sheltered spot for our picnic lunch and then we’d do something else. The trail, even with the weather, still had lots of hikers on it, many with small children, many not dressed warmly enough. Just as we got back to van, there started to be occasional breaks in the clouds and fog.

The van took us on a few miles further along the Going to the Sun Road and we ate lunch at noon on rocks along a creek, just a bit off the road. Candace knew a pretty spot for photos another mile or so down the road so we stopped there; then we were headed back to the motel by about 1:30. The “#1” hiking group’s original plan had been to hike the HighLine trail – the wind had made them change plans so they hiked up to Hidden Lake itself for lunch and then stayed out hiking until after 3:00, going out for a little distance on the HighLine trail after the wind had moderated.

Back at the lower elevation of the motel, the weather was okay and I walked some around the beautiful lake again. My plans were to get something at the general store & eat outside for the evening (it was the one dinner not included in the tour) but my roommate really wanted soup so we went over to Jammers, the pizza place, for a bowl of minestrone soup & then we found a bench with lake view to share local cherries (the best I’ve ever had, guide Marilyn had offered us some the day before) and cookies.

Friday, August 11th

This was our free morning. My plan was to ride the shuttle back to Avalanche Lake & take the horse & hiking trail there for a little while, figuring I would be safe from bears with other hikers; then get back in time for lunch and the 1:00 program. I had asked around a bit but heard no one else planning a hike and the guides discouraged us from taking the Chalet trail that was very near the lodge (bears, too steep) or the hiker/horse trail (too close to the dusty road, too many horses) and the bridge for the trail that went to a McDonald Creek crossing and little waterfall was out.

So, I got to the shuttle pickup spot in time for its first stop but it didn’t come. I chatted with folks waiting, enjoyed being outside on this pleasant morning but it didn’t come. A couple from Road Scholar that I had hiked with the day before joined the waiting group and after a while, we decided to take the “close to dusty road” trail. Of course, we saw the shuttle as we were crossing the dusty (under construction) road but I was glad to be moving, to have companions.

It was not the best trail but I wasn’t terrified of meeting up with a grizzly and we were doing it as an “in and out”, not a loop, so surely we couldn’t get lost. There were horse piles to step around (interesting though that they were not the big fly attractors that they would have been in GA) and we did meet 2 horse groups that we had to get off the trail for. But we were able to hike to a little pond (with a couple of ducks), see interesting mushrooms and even a tiny toad, and get to a nice small waterfall along the McDonald Creek (which was off the Going to the Sun Road so lots of people there).

Even though it was sort of “in and out”, we missed the turn for our getting back to motel branch of trail so had to walk fast to get back for the buffet lunch at Jammers and then on to the lodge auditorium for a very entertaining program by Rob Quist, a Montana native folksinger. One couple of the group came in just as the program ended; they had ridden the park shuttle to Apgar Village for a better lunch and then shuttle was terribly late for their return.

Then . . . we were off to a bus, to go on our Middle Fork of the Flathead River trip. This was about an hour’s drive to the outfitters headquarters, where we got water boots and life vests, then back on bus to get to river. Our river guides were entertaining young folks; they did all the paddling for us in the 4 boats, all we had to do was watch the scenery and chat.

It was a lovely day, probably our warmest and sunniest afternoon. We saw merganser ducks swimming and 2 bald eagles perched on a branch; we went underneath the eagles and they never blinked.

The outfitters fed us a huge supper (grilled salmon for me) outdoors on picnic tables; then we loaded up again, this time all our talk was about our shuttle times and arrangements to get back to Kalispell. There were 3 couples who had driven to the park – their plans were much simpler.

Saturday, August 12th

Leisurely breakfast (and of course, this time the lodge restaurant was almost empty). I looked around the lodge lobby since it was not busy; I really wish I had appreciated it more, both it and the restaurant had beautiful “old time” features and furniture, although the stuffed animal heads still aren’t my thing.

This time I was in a big van for the return trip to Kalispell. I hated leaving; it seemed I had hardly gotten there, had only seen a small part of Glacier and certainly only a tiny bit of Montana.

Time waiting with my “new friends” at Kalispell passed very quickly but it was a long layover in Salt Lake City, a delay of more than an hour because of storms in the Southeast. I was nervous because the last shuttle home for me left at 12:30 a.m.; my original arrival time was 11:00 pm, now it was midnight. Luckily, I was able to hurry through the Atlanta airport (no luggage to claim) and reach the shuttle pickup by 12:20 a.m. And the shuttle actually waited extra minutes for other passengers so I shouldn’t have been so anxious but next pickup would have been 5:00 a.m. Travel is stressful.

After Thoughts

I am so glad I went a day early for this tour. With good planning, I could have gone an additional day early and done some exploring on my own (but that’s difficult, even with the park shuttle).

I wish the tour had been at least one day longer. It was expensive and time consuming to get to Glacier; I want to go back now to spend more time on the east side, just to see it again. I wish there were more food options at Lake McDonald (the general store did not sell any fresh fruit, not even bananas).

But, even so, I enjoyed it and am very grateful I got to see a beautiful place. The scenery did not disappoint. My fellow tour members were enjoyable; the tour guides were knowledgeable. I wish I’d more interaction with the park rangers (my one moment did not seem to get me good information) but I guess that is a funding problem with parks now. The park was very, very busy. I was lucky with smoke & fires and the range of weather seems to be part of their climate; glad I missed the heat wave they had the week before I arrived, our motel room would have been miserable then.

Already thinking about a tour type trip to Yosemite next summer. I miss the old self-planned driving/camping/hiking trips of the past but still can enjoy this type of trip.

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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 03:04 PM
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Thanks for coming back, I hope the covid has not left you with health problems. We have not done much group travel so I was interested in how that worked for you. Sounds like something to consider when doing the planning/driving/solo travel gets old.

Glacier is still on my future plans list.
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Old Oct 26th, 2023, 04:03 PM
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Good times!
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 08:22 AM
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Not sure it was your intention but I have pushed thoughts of any organized group travel way out (like past age 80). I would have been too frustrated by your experiences to enjoy the trip.
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Old Oct 28th, 2023, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by tom_mn
Not sure it was your intention but I have pushed thoughts of any organized group travel way out (like past age 80). I would have been too frustrated by your experiences to enjoy the trip.
Tom, It was not my intention to discourage people from taking organized travel, especially didn't mean to discourage anyone from taking tour with Road Scholar, which is a very good organization. Certainly though if you can drive independently to a place and make your own schedule that is preferable and you could probably sense that I missed being able to do that!

I had many such driving/hiking trips to national parks in the past, when I was younger, when I had my traveling companion. But it is not just age and my own loss that have changed -- national parks are more crowded, it is harder to get lodging or even camping reservations than it once was. Very nice to have travel company's lodging reservations inside the park during the high season. Very nice to have transportation and not have to worry about parking inside the park, which is a huge issue at the big trailheads. The Logan Pass lot fills up before 7:00 a.m. so very nice to have vans that can just drop one off and then pull in to pick up the group. Important at this park, too, to have hiking companions, on all but the most crowded of trails, with the danger of bears (I wouldn't trust myself to use bear spray effectively in an emergency.)

This company offers "small group" tours also, which probably would have been solved problems that this very large one had -- those are specifically targeted to hikers (and more expensive, I wasn't sure either of my ability to keep up on such a tour). It is hard, of course, to find the "perfect tour" for oneself.

The food arrangements at the beautiful lodge restaurant would have been frustrating even if staying on my own in cabin or lodge or motel -- it's as though it was set up to serve a more leisured, well off clientele.

The park shuttle certainly helped make some independent "getting around the park" possible without a car but park needed more shuttles to be reliable. And the ranger presence, unlike my past experiences with parks from long ago, was not there so the Road Scholar guides were invaluable in giving background, identifying plants, trees, birds, etc. that this Eastern person was unfamiliar with.

I plan to do more such national park tours, maybe to Yosemite, next summer.

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Old Oct 28th, 2023, 06:51 PM
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CLB: Valid points. It was the part about not having an extra day or 2 in reserve to wait out inclement weather that most bothered me.
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