Today wasn't as great a day of exploring as yesterday. We got a later start and found that many of the parking lots for the hikes we wanted to take were full, so we had to drive around to find spaces. Even the St Mary VIsitor Center lot was full so we had to hunt for a spot, which we found.
We started the day driving up the east side of the park on the Going to the Sun Highway. The east side is very different from the west side. You immediately see the peaks and snow rather than driving through miles of forest. You are right away along St Mary Lake which is just as nice as Lake McDonald on the west side. We decided to drive all the way up to Logan Pass even though we were late enough we knew we would have difficulty finding a parking spot there, so we didn't try. We went right by it to Oberlin Bend and had to wait a bit for a parking spot. We learned that most of the spots there were taken by people who were walking up the road to Logan Pass since that lot was full, so we were among the few enjoying the view from there.
We drove down the east side to Lunch Creek and found a parking spot quickly. At Lunch Creek, you can see the creek surrounded by lots of wildflowers.
Jennifer realized that the tall plants we saw yesterday along Two Medicine trails were more mature Bear Grass that had lost their flowers. We saw Bear Grass at higher elevations and looked at the base and there were the same leaves and bottom of the stalk. Another plant identified.
Global Warming has been hard on Glacier National Park. While there were hundreds of glaciers a hundred years ago, today there are 25. Jackson Glacier is one that is left and we enjoyed seeing it. Another parking spot found.
We had lunch at the picnic grounds near Rising Sun. It is a short distance from the shore of St Mary Lake so we walked down to see the families wading in the water. It seemed a little cold to me but the kids didn't seem to mind.
We had wanted to see St Mary Falls but we had a terrible time finding a parking spot. We eventually gave up and went to the St Mary Visitor Center thinking we might try to take a shuttle bus back to see the Falls but they don't run frequently on the east side and we decided since it was later, we would try again to find a parking spot. This time, we did at St Mary Falls Trailhead. We walked down the trail toward the falls. This is the area that burned last year. We walked through what was a lovely evergreen forest, I am sure, but we saw only burned tree trunks. The forest is reclaiming itself, though, and we saw many wild flowers, especially Fire Weed, of course.
One nice factor to the fire was that we could easily see the mountains through the, uh, trees.
St Mary Falls were lovely and we enjoyed the hike down and back even though we walked through the burned area so, of course, it was hot as there was no shade. Today, the temperature was just over 70 degrees, so we did fine.
After the hike, we decided to go back to camp where cold beers awaited us. The refrigerator has been working great this year, always a concern with the gas absorption camping type refrigerator. We have learned that if we can keep the refrigerator side of the trailer out of the afternoon sun, it does fine.
I am typing this back in camp and hoping that the WiFi stays strong enough for me to send this post to the web site. Last night, it was.