Montana-Wyoming 2011 - July 11, 2011 - Respite for the weary

Published: July 17th 2011
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After the rigors of the Crypt Lake hike, we needed an easier day and got it on our drive back into the USA to the Glacier National Park area.

Heading south from Canada, we encountered Chief Mountain again from the north side, giving us a much different perspective. This 9080' mountain is composed of limestone that is much older than the underlying gray shale. This occurred as part of the Lewis overthrust when Precambrian rocks were forced by tectonic forces over the 1400 million year young shale, forming the Rocky front that extends from Montana to Alberta. Erosion removed much of the surrounding rock, leaving the surrounding tower we now see. It has long been considered a sacred place by the native Blackfeet indians of the area. The very difficult climb was first made by a white man in 1892. That person was Henry L. Stimson, an east coast blue-blood who later served as Roosevelt's Secretary of War during World War II. When he arrived at the summit, he found a buffalo skull which had been left there in a ceremonial gesture by a Blackfeet warrior in the past.

I had hoped to stay in the Many Glacier Hotel in the park. It is convenient and the view is incredible. But half of the hotel is closed for renovations, and the tour group operators had the inside track for getting the remaining rooms. The overflow forced us all the way south to East Glacier Park, about as funky a little town as you will ever see. Here, horses in a group of 15-20 are hazed from corral to trailer loading area just outside your door. Overweight American tourists sit down to eat with what appear to be remnants of the hippie generation with Captain America scarves around their heads, and independent-minded local women serve as waitresses alongside Jamaican cultural exchange students in a restaurant named Luna that has a log cabin theme and exhorts you to order huckleberry pie because "you'd be a lunatic not to". Unfortunately, they were out of huckleberries during our stay, so we left there slightly deranged.

In this area of the country, you become a connoisseur of rivers. There are slow rivers, fast rivers, glacial-fed rivers, rivers coming from snow melt. The glacial-fed rivers have a milky appearance from the suspended ground-up rock particles the glacier has carried. I think we have already seen all of these.

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