Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Glacier from the East

The Going To the Sun Road is the only road that crosses the park from west to east, so we spent the rest of our time in Glacier on the east side of the park. The road itself is pretty amazing considering they essentially carved it out if the side of the mountain; and the scenery is breathtaking.

At this point we were growing weary of camping so much since our sleeping bags were pretty gross, the tent was feeling really small, and a soft bed and shower sounded really good. With all this in mind, and without a reservation in the height of tourist season, we headed to the Many Glacier area (the name growing more awkward every year…) and pulled up to the Many Glacier Lodge. Our good luck held, and we got the last room available for the night.

The lodge was on the east shore of a small lake with craggy, snow-covered peaks in the background, behind which the sun sets. We settled into our room, cleaned up, ate dinner, and still had an hour before the boat rental place closed, so we decided to go for a romantic row around the lake.

The next morning we tried to check out of the hotel, only to find that none of our credit cards were working. With visions of spending the rest of our vacation doing dishes to cover the bill in my head, we made a phone call and fortunately got bailed out. A special thank you goes out to our hero of the day.

We still only had about $30 in cash between us, and thankfully, we had a full tank of gas. We made a couple more calls to figure out what the problem could be. Was there a bill we didn’t pay, and our creditors had frozen our account? Had we been marked as possible terrorists, and they froze our accounts before we skipped the country and fled across the border into Canada? (We have after all made financial contributions lately to such dubious organizations as the Sierra Club, NPR, and our local firefighters) We didn’t have a clue what it could possibly be.

So instead of worrying what the problem was, we went for a 10-mile roundtrip hike up to Iceberg Lake. There had been reports of a grizzly in the area, so we were extra vigilant about letting the bears know we were in the area. Becca wasn’t feeling particularly vocal that day, so the gravely serious responsibility fell on my shoulders, and I serenaded Becca, any bears in the area, and more than a few hikers we passed with little the little snippets of songs that I could remember, making up lyrics when my memory failed me, and singing completely off key. The ranger we spoke to said that the bears especially hate ABBA, but (un)fortunately I haven’t listened to any of their songs enough to remember more than a few words.

So we made our way to Iceberg Lake, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would name the place thusly. Fortunately, I had Becca there, and she explained to me that it was named after the not-so-well-known explorer Johann Iceberg.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the credit card thing just turned out to be a simple paperwork error with our change of address form, and was all straightened out within a day. Phew, we were back in business.

That night, after we were assured the money would be turned back on the next morning, we wrote a check to cover the campsite at the Two Medicine area of the park. We were informed when we showed up that half the campground would be closed because of a “bear re-education program” they had going on that night. There had been a bear that was visiting every night for the past week cleaning up after messy campers, and though there hadn’t been any problems, they wanted to ensure that there wouldn’t be any problems in the future. To do so, they set up a bear trap which consisted of a big cylinder that was closed off on one end, had an open trap door on the other end, and a tasty piece of road kill for the bear inside. Once the bear goes for the road kill, the trap door keeps the bear inside until they pick up the bear the next morning, and deposit it to an area of the park not so infested with people. We asked the rangers if the bear was going to wake us up in the middle of the night screaming and yelling about being caught, but apparently they are just happy to have some food, and they just quietly chow down until their ride comes. We never found out what happened, but we got the impression that nothing much happened.

Again, we had hiked the previous day and not showered, and stayed in the tent, and I was feeling especially dirty and daffy, so I snapped a couple of pictures that I think show how we felt quite nicely.

After I pulled myself together, we packed up, and headed to the great white north, passing a cool little feature called “trick falls” on the way.

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