Lake McDonald

It was a short drive down the road from where we’d been hiking on the Johns Loop Trail over to the Lake McDonald Lodge. The parking lot was kind of full and we had to park a little far away but since we hadn’t hiked very long earlier in the day it was all good.

we stopped in the lodge and there were plenty of people there milling about.. The boat we rode on was called the DeSmet, and was built in 1930. For lots of interesting history about the different boats in Glacier, click here.

It was an hour-long boat ride and we sat inside becuase it was kind of chilly on the water. But while Kevin relaxed and enjoyed the scenery, i had to run up and outside to the top to see everything. A few other people were up there, but most were enjoying the warmth inside.

We turned around here, after we’d gone about halfway down the 10-mile lake. right there with the trees sticking up is the spot where we’d sat in the drizzle eating our lunch when we hiked along the Lake McDonald path on Monday. and where an eagle was perched above us, on the lookout!

After the boat ride we stopped in the lodge for a little bit. we wandered through the gift shop but nothing caught our eye.

i love these old lampshades in the lobby.

At least a little fire was burning, but it was challenging to get a photo with no person in it.

Here’s a quick video of the lodge, plus a short video of a dog who had jumped in the water and was excitedly chasing a stick. We watched as the dog kept chasing more and more sticks, and at first i felt bad for the dog because the owner kept throwing the sticks, but then I saw the dog being led up the steps back towards the lodge. It was clearly an old dog with lots of arthritis because it had to very slowly and carefully make his way up. So i’m sure that all the chasing in the water was a blast for the good dog.

Also in the video i talk about the spot on Lake McDonald where we’d hiked to on monday.

last night on the west side of glacier!

ok then,



Another great hike in Glacier…

by grace on October 21, 2019

Monday, Sept. 16th, our 13th anniversary! We celebrated by going on a lovely hike, up to Apgar Lookout.

it’s funny that our hike two days before had been so chilly and windy. today, we fairly quickly zipped off our zipoff pants and comfortably hiked in shorts. we left at the crack of about 11:00 in the morning, and the hike was about seven miles round trip, with an elevation of 1,956 ft, according to my fitbit.

Apgar Lookout sits at 5,236 ft.

the start of the hike was one of the closest from the place we were staying, which was good. there were already a handful of cars in the parking lot when we got there.

At this spot we’d hiked almost two hours. it seemed pretty easy compared to the Grinnell hike. Plus it was fun to hike in such glorious weather.

Most of the trees hadn’t started turning color, but this one had.

Almost to the top!

When we reached the peak we sat down for a nice lunch of tuna and crackers and peanut butter and crackers, and kevin had brought dried ice cream sandwiches! the sandwich wasn’t bad, and it was funny to be eating an ice cream sandwich way up on a mountaintop.

that’s Lake McDonald down below – we’d seen it on Friday when stopped at the Lake McDonald Lodge on our way to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and we’d see it a few more times later.

We were able to walk up on the lookout; i wish i’d taken a photo of the structure. Here’s the info i just read about it:

The original lookout was constructed in 1929, but burned down only two weeks after its completion. It was immediately replaced with the current two-story wood frame structure on the premises today. Although no longer in use, the fire tower is considered an historical structure, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also at the site is a TV transmitter tower that’s currently being used by a Kalispell television station with a special use permit to operate within Glacier National Park.

The village, mountain, fire tower and trail are all named after Milo Apgar, who was among the first permanent families to settle on Lake McDonald in the early 1890s. Mr. Apgar built homes and cabins for tourists in this area, which would later become Apgar Village.

There’s a fancy golf course down there, but there’s also that thing…I took a picture in order to remember it, and to look it up, but i can’t find out what it could be. Kevin says maybe it’s some kind of wastewater treatment plant. Clearly it’s top-secret since i can’t find any info on it.

There were quite a few cute little fir trees like this on the trail.

There were also many burned trees from the huge Roberts Fire in 2003.

During that fire, at one point the fire was so intense that flames reached a height of 500 feet along Howe Ridge (towards the north of Lake McDonald). 2003 was the final year of a five-year drought, and became one of the worst fire seasons in Glacier National Park history. During that summer more than 136,000 acres burned within the park boundaries. That represents 13% of the park! (i got that info from a hiking glacier website).

This tree looked almost silver.

Here’s Kevin close to the end of the trail. We’d spent about five hours hiking, including a good amount of time hanging out at the top.

A fantastic hike, and on our way back to Apgar Village we saw this guy fly-fishing in the Flathead River.

Here’s a short video of our hike.

Next posting, our grand anniversary dinner that evening in Apgar Village!

ok then,

mrs. g.h.


Going-to-the-Sun Road, part one

by grace on October 7, 2019

On Friday morning, Sept. 13th (friday the 13th and nothing horrible happened!), we packed up all our stuff and left the charming Chalet Motel in Whitefish.

it was a half-hour drive to West Glacier, where we stopped at the historic Belton Train Station and perused the stuff in the the National Conservancy Gift shop. But we weren’t in the mood for shopping; we wanted to get on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. That link, by the way, is the general info for the road, but there’s a whole lot of other information all over the place for it, if you’re interested.

Once inside the park we stopped off at one of the historic lodges, the Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and a mile wide, and we hiked along it one of the days.

A view of the back of the lodge. It’s one of a few historic lodges in the park. This one was built in 1913 and all the lodges seem to fill up really quickly – you have to book them a year in advance.

This is the view when we first left the lodge, heading up the GTTS Road.

The road is about 50 miles long and it’s on three different historic registers. There are lots of places to pull out, and here’s the first one.

This is the West Side Tunnel, and here’s some info about it:

Significance: The West Side Tunnel is one of approximately seventeen prominent masonry and concrete structures on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The 51-mile stretch of scenic road is significant as a unique engineering accomplishment of the early twentieth century, and as the first product of a 1925 cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads. The West Side Tunnel was part of the first contract following the landmark agreement. The tunnel is an excellent example of the care the engineers took in designing each structure for a given site, in that it has windows that look out on Heaven’s Peak and the scenic McDonald Creek Valley.

I found that info online, but i had with me the guidebook to the park, and there’s a detailed section about the many points of interest, so i was reading those in between taking pictures and videos.

Meanwhile, Kevin was doing an excellent job of driving as usual, on the very twisty road. plus it was raining.

Here are the Triple Arches, carved into the mountain. That red vehicle you see is one of the red buses that you could pay to ride in, instead of driving.

This is what the Glacier website says about the arches:

Triple Arches is one of the most recognizable features along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. An elegant solution to an early engineering problem, it has become a symbol of the care and dedication in the original construction of the road.

It took us about an hour to get to the peak, Logan Pass. There are two well-known trails at the pass, and i’d hoped we’d hike on the shorter one, the Hidden Lake Overlook.

Usually the parking lot at Logan Pass is completely full by eight a.m., but it wasn’t so bad that day, probably because it was raining, cold, and very windy. we found parking and headed into the information center. this is the posted sign.

So yeah, 55 mile-an-hour wind gusts, plus raining and cold. as you can see at the end of my video, there are giant clouds looming over the parking lot.

We agreed we wouldn’t hike because it seemed that it would be miserable.

My hope was that we’d drive back on the GTTS road on Sunday, and we could do one of the hikes then.

The info center was too crowded but i did enjoy perusing the old photos. Here’s a funny one about the opening ceremony.

“portions had to be compromised,” that’s funny. so each person got a tablespoon of chili, i suppose? They must have been really hungry by the time they all got off the mountain!

Here’s the video of some of our drive. i kept hanging out the window taking videos and pictures but i managed to condense it down, to just under two minutes.

ok then,

mrs. h.