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12-Jun-10 – GNP – Day 1

A full week in Glacier National Park (GNP) – Brian and I have been looking forward to this for a while.  Before I launch in my blow-by-blow of our time there, I want to thank a few people who gave exhaustive and expert advice on where to go and what to do.  Many thanks to Michele Sullivan, Abigail Adams, Anne Adams and Ashley Adams (in no particular order).

Typical night before scrambling and packing paid off.  To TLH on time for a 0645 flight to Memphis.  Short layover and onto a packed flight to Minneapolis.  This flight landed 30 minutes late which left 25 minutes to get across the airport and pray my luggage (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc.) followed.  Turned out they were removing that plane from service (unscheduled) but I never found out why.  Close to on time arrival in Kalispell (FCA).  Kalispell airport is about twice the size of Homer’s terminal, but warm, cozy and well decorated.

Brian had been waiting for a while and made some friends at an adjoining table.  They bid farewell as I bee lined for the Avis counter; paperwork in hand for our vehicle (quick plug – being an Avis preferred member is really great – quick and hassle free) I ambled over to the conveyer to see if my bag had made the close connection: It had!  Out to the parking lot to see what goodie Avis had for us; a Chevy Terrain – mid-sized SUV.  Talk about bells and whistles.  A steering wheel full of controls, satellite radio, 3 power sockets plus USB ports for charging, heated seats, backup camera and cubbies and compartments galore.  Did I mention the motorized rear hatch?  Don’t mind hiking but I sure hate to lift the tailgate. J  I fear that Avis is going to regret this decision.  A brand new (270 mile) SUV in the hands of two sloppy campers for a week; the poor vehicle will never be the same.

A trip into Kalispell yielded supplies (some toiletries), groceries (dry, produce and meats) and bear spray (as mandated from home).  A stop at a Burger King and we were on our way.

20 miles to the park, then about 60 across the southern border on route 2 brought us to a grand lodge (and pee break).  This was the East Glacier Lodge: one of a number that we would encounter throughout the park.  Built of large logs and beams and offering the amenities of a ‘backcountry” resort, we both found it impressive: inside and out.

We followed a couple of slow roads north until we found the entrance for Many Glacier.  This area, unknown to us at the time, was to be our home for the next four days.  The Many Glacier area is the center of activity (from our perspective) for the eastern side of GNP.  All within a two mile radius is a huge lodge, a motor inn (sleeping cabins), campground and the origins of enough day-hikes to keep you busy for a month.  On top of that, the area is on the Continental Divide Trail (like the Appalachian Trail, but steeper).  We arrived a bit late in the evening, so we picked a campsite and setup quickly to beat the sun.   Little did we know, dusk lasts from about 2000 to 2230.  No fear of it getting dark too early here.  We finished setting up the campsite around 2200 and headed to the lodge in search of dinner. All of the food based amenities in the lodge shut down at 2200, so we were out of luck.

Without firewood, we called it an early night and retired after a dinner of something forgettable.

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