After spending three great days in Billings, Nick and I took off for St Mary, on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. We took our time getting there, hitting Bozeman to catch the World Cup championship and then Helena to fill a growler with their single malt IPA at the Blackfoot River Brewing (one of the best breweries I’ve ever been to). We got to St Mary around 8:30, stunned by the scene of glacial mountains thrusting from prairie hills.
We got a good tip from Nick’s friends about a decent place to camp right on the border between the Blackfeet Reservation and the park, between the Upper and Lower St Mary Lakes. Turned out to be a sweet but not completely private spot (see second pic); local kids found it to be a favorite ATV spot and a safe point to shoot late-night fireworks (the latter was pretty sweet, actually). Once the the sun finally set around 10:30, the stars began to poke the sky and a nearly full moon emerged from the northeast after midnight. We stayed up until 3, which made it the latest night of the trip.
On Monday we drove the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Due to record snowfall (200%), the pass only opened the previous week; construction crews were still cleaning up flood damage from the rapidly melting snow. Although this held us up at times, the weather was perfect and visibility was incredible. At Logan’s Pass we saw mountain goats sliding down the snowy side of a mountain and a herd of big horn sheep prancing in the melt.
We drove all the way to Lake McDonald, hiking to Avalanche Lake in between (last pic). Nick, who has traveled extensively out west, thought it was the prettiest view he’s ever seen. After a great grilled cheese, hobo pie style, and a refreshing swim in McDonald, we hauled back to the campsite. Needless to say, we didn’t make much past midnight the second night.