August 30, 2010

Animal Encounters at Glacier National Park

This weekend we decided to visit Glacier National Park about 400 miles north of Yellowstone in northernmost Montana. As you can guess, there was a lot of open road on the way.

Along the way we spotted some buildings that looked very similar to the buildings we had toured when we visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota. For a link to our visit of the Minuteman Missile Site, click here .
We had happened upon what appeared to be an active missile control center.
Just a few miles away, we saw the site of one of the actual missiles, complete with moo cows.
Approaching the east entrances of Glacier National Park, visitors will travel through the Blackfeet Nation Indian Reservation.
We spotted this funnel cloud and watched as it stretched closer to the ground and retreated back into the sky several times. Luckily we were traveling away from it.

Our ten hour trip culminated in arriving at the Many Glaciers Entrance to Glacier National Park.
There were many sights to behold.
The road leading into the Many Glaciers Entrance dead ends 12 miles into the park at the Swiftcurrent Inn and Cabins.

When we arrived, visitors were viewing a family of grizzlies walking to and fro on the hill above the office/restaurant/store. Apparently several grizzly and black bear families live on this hill and the park service has closed some hiking trails in this area due to bear activity.
This was our two-bedroom cabin for the night. Although it had a sink with cold running water, it was without bathroom. The public bath and showers were a short walk away.
As we headed out for a short hike at about 5:30 pm, this is what we saw.
We were entering grizzly country for our 5 mile roundtrip hike. Our trail was the Ptarmigan/Iceberg Trail.
We met a lot of fellow hikers along the way who were returning from their hikes. We were awed by the views along the trail.
Everyone hiking this trail today got to see this huge elk basking in the sun just down the slope from the trail.

We reached Ptarmigan Falls about 7pm and headed back after viewing the falls.

As we were walking back, we spotted this rabbit with huge feet right next to the stinky pit toilet set up for hikers.
On our way down we also ran into our moose friend again. He had decided to eat right by the trail. By this, we mean his antlers were hanging over the hiking trail as he was bent down eating.
As we thought it might be rude to walk on by while he was eating, we watched him for several minutes until he decided to take about ten steps back down the hill and continue eating a safe distance from the trail.

We moved on and spotted this deer down below the trail. It walked along parallel to us for quite awhile before our next encounter.
We walked around a blind corner and had our final encounter with a grizzly and her three cubs. The mother politely decided to descend the hill on the right side of the trail.
However, her cub decided to run toward us like it wanted to play with us. This prompted the mother to "say" something to the cub that made it stop and the mother climbed back on the trail and proceeded to lead the cubs toward us.
How delighted we were...Marlon pulled his bear spray out but, luckily, did not use it. We backtracked around two curves in the trail and then quickly climbed the hill of flat rocks above the trail.

As we got about 20 feet above the trail, we turned around and the last of the cubs was just passing below us on the trail. The happy family thankfully continued on their merry way up the trail.

We continued on our merry way the last mile down the trail and were glad to make it back to our cabin, thankful that they had not been turning the SAME corner as us when we encountered them.

For more pictures, click here pictures 1-157.

To be continued...

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