Saturday, August 28, 2010

Going To The Sun Highway... and the Cedars

Thursday was the day that I was moving from the east side of Glacier NP to the west side and driving over the "Going To The Sun Highway". At one of the narrowest points of the Rockies, this roadway takes you in 50 miles from the east side of the Continental Divide to the other. The pass over the divide is over 6,000 feet high! I know that the pictures don't give it justice.

The good news was that it was sunny and record warmth! The only problem was that the views were obscured a bit by smoke from western wildfires, taking the "wow" factor down a bit. Much of the roadway is under construction, so the trip over was a bit slower than normal. The best way to describe the trip is the Kancamangus Highway on steroids! The roadway is extremely narrow and in places, the ledge is over your car!

My plan was to hike along the "Garden Wall" just above part of the highway, but since the smoke was considerable and the view would be similar to that of the roadway, I laid another plan.

But before I leave this subject, I want to tell you how much respect I have for the determination of Beth climbing this roadway as part of her cross-country bicycle ride some 20 years or so ago. It is a gruelling 12 mile stretch of 6% grade! I'd be lucky to get a few miles in granny gear!

I created an alternative plan of hiking the Trail of the Cedars and up to Avalanche Lake before settling into my campsite just inside the east gate of the park. The hike was beautiful. Cedars don't usually grow in Montana, but because of a cascading waterfall leaving Avalanche Lake, there is enough moisture to allow a small forest to grow. The cascade had several "pots" much like the "Great Basin" in the White Mountains, but much smaller in size. Once I arrived at the lake, I went to the distant shore and had an amazing time watching 6" brook trout actually leaping completely out of the water trying to catch moths that were flying over the lake. Now I know why they say the "fish are jumping!"

I ended up in Apgar Campground and spent some time at the shore of Lake McDonald speaking with a few of you, benefitting from my restored cell phone reception!

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