The next segment of our road trip might be my favorite of them all. We left Banff to follow our southbound route back into the states via Glacier National Park, MT.
Our entrance into the US was about as warm a welcome as we could have asked for.
The weather changed drastically, taking us from around-freezing temps in Banff to a dry and sunny 70°. Little things seemed to click into place immediately. The gas was once again advertised in gallons instead of liters. Beer was sold in every kind of shop, not just liquor stores. Our cellphones worked again.
On the one hand, we were sorry to say goodbye to Canada and to end our era of beautiful Canadian adventures. On the other, we welcomed the comfort of semi-familiarity and were glad to be moving on.
We drove through miles of yellow plains & a few tiny towns, and before too long, we approached Glacier National Park.
First things first, we wanted to drive the Going-to-the-Sun-Road, so we headed straight there to see it before sunset. Right out of nowhere, it seemed, gigantic slabs of rock began to jut into the sky. As the end-of-day shadows found their way into the valleys, the rocks revealed their subtle gem tones.
The Going-to-the-Sun-Road led us through the old Cedar forest of yellow and orange, then upwards past the canopy and into the mountains. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. It was much too spectacular to describe in words.
I will say this, however. It was such a stunning drive that we did it the next day, too. At that time we found out they had actually closed down the Eastern portion of the road for the winter season right after we’d driven it the night before. So, we were especially glad we’d rushed straight to it.
We headed up to Logan’s Pass, located on the continental divide and at the highest point of the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. We’d been told great things about the Highline Trail, so we gave it a go.
The Highline hike was by far the most consistently visually stunning hike we’d done on our entire trip. The whole way there and back, you’re on a mountain ledge with a panoramic vista of mountains, valleys, glaciers, etc. It’s unreal. For the duration of the 10ish miles we walked, I couldn’t keep myself from blurting out intermittent “WOW”s and “oh my god…”s ’cause I couldn’t really believe my eyes.
After the magnificence of Highline (and not wanting to leave ever), we drove down to the bottom of the park to check out Lake McDonald.
This spot was basically the essence of serenity. We stayed ’til sunset, cooked dinner out of the back of the truck, and headed out under the starriest sky.
The next morning, we made a detour around the bottom of the park to get to Two Medicine Lake. We had planned on heading out, but decided it would be a shame to miss out on it since we were already so close. When you’re living the life of a rubber tramp, what’s another couple hours on the road anyways?
On the way I did a bit of research about the area. The mountains of the Two Medicine region were recognized as the Backbone of the World to the indigenous tribe of Blackfeet Indians. They considered the area sacred land and used it as a venue for vision quests.
It was easy to see why it was considered sacred by the Blackfeet. There was a sort of unearthliness about it. I’m sure it was, in part, due to the peacefulness of the shoulder season. Since it was that end-of-summer but not-quite-closed-for-the-winter time of year, there was no one else around.
We were in this extremely beautiful, extremely sought-after spot, and we had it all to ourselves. No boar tours, no hikers, no busses full of camera clad foreigners. It was just about as opposite a National Park experience as Banff/Lake Louise as imaginable. We hiked a few miles to stretch our legs and soak in some sun before
It was a nice change, and quite a satisfying homecoming.
Next (brief) stop: Yellowstone