Sunday, September 25, 2016

When the Land Belonged to God

This year, the National Park System celebrated a big Birthday....100 years.  As part of the celebration the National Parks have encouraged Americans to find their park.  After only a few hours in Glacier, I believe I have found my Park.  While there are many, many more parks for me to discover and explore, Glacier has caught a bit of my soul in a way no other park has captured.

After our drive to Logan Pass and the difficulty we encounter finding parking in the visitor center parking lot, we elected to ride the shuttle from Rising Sun Campground to the Logan Pass visitor center.  We had no trouble snagging seats for the ride up to Logan Pass for our hike to the Hidden Lake. 

After checking in with the rangers at the visitor center we discovered the meadow area near the visitor center had a Momma Grizzly and cub stop in just shortly before we arrived but they had retreated to a safe distance. The area below the Hidden Lake overlook was closed as there was another Momma Grizzly and 2 cubs had set up housekeeping along the lake shores.  Fine by me, I prefer to see grizzlies far off in the distance.  We set off for the overlook.


We set off for the overlook since it was still safely open.

Ponds of pooled water that became waterfalls as they tumbled down on the East side of Logan Pass.

A significant part of the hike was through slushy snow fields that had not yet melted off.

Some hikers come prepared for snow fun!

North end of Hidden Lake

Southern end of Hidden Lake.  As much as I wanted to hike around the lake.....I preferred to see the Grizzlies from this distance.....dots that we could watch as they moved but to far to get photos.

The photos of the Hidden Lake are taken on an outcropping of rocks. 

 It is a gathering point for people and other critters all with lunch in mind.  

Cute little critter
 scampering after it's Momma.

Search for human food has left the animals with little fear of humans and there are increased incidents of animals biting or charging people.

Currently there are studies of goats to better understand goat behavior that will result in better animal  management in the park.

It is clear to see the power of this male goat and easy to understand the potential danger he represents to humans within his territory.


On our return to the visitor center we stopped along the boardwalk and watched through a spotting scope the Mother Grizzly who with her cub was scampering through this meadow a long distance away.  No pictures....just memories.

Our hike for the day resulted in sightings of 5 grizzly bears and more than twenty goats.
After our return to our campsite we were treated to a program in the Rising Sun Campground.
The Program called 'Native America Speaks' was preformed by Jack Gladstone.

Jack Gladstone is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and tells the stories he learned at his grandmothers knee in engaging stories and songs that are enthralling, entertaining and educational.   Jack Gladstone embraces both his indigenous Native American and his Northern European immigrant ancestry. 

In 2013, Jack was the recipient of the C.M. Russell Heritage Award.

Learn more about Jack Gladstone......

Hear a song written and sung by Jack Gladstone

"When the Land Belonged to God", a painting by Charlie M. Russell painted in 1914.


 Note hump on the back and wide set ears.....yep it is a grizzly.  
(Photo taken with a zoom from the safety of the van.)

 As a child I visited Glacier, and saw one goat and no bears....
Thus far six grizzlies, and more than 20 goats.

When the Land Belonged to God.....

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fire and Ice....Continuing to Shape Glacier Park

After visiting some thrift stores in Great Falls, and the Charles Russel museum we get a rather late start to Glacier.  Of course I haven't done any planning as to where we are staying so anxiety is building a bit as we head to East Glacier, by way of Browning.

Traveling through the plains area, there is agriculture, and plenty of plains.

Wild globe thistle

Fields of blooming Canola


The original 1855 Blackfeet Indian Reservation encompassed most of the northern half of the state of Montana.  The present reservation is located in northwest Montana, bordered by Glacier National Park to the west and Canada to the north.   Spanning 1.5 million acres, the Blackfeet reservation is one of the largest in the United States.

Driving through Browning, I kept an eye out for camping opportunities but decided to go on to East Glacier which sits outside of the National Park and check it out.  Finding a place to stay was a first priority.  It is a small community and by driving around we found a small little private park with dry camping for $20.  More than I prefer to pay, but it will put us in a good jumping off point to get into the park early in the morning to find a camping spot at one of the nearby campgrounds.

Before settling in for the night we head over to the East Glacier Lodge and walk along the main street in East Glacier, enjoying the sights.

Just a glimpse of mountains, a tease of what is to come.....
  after sunset we return to our camp for a quiet night of rest.

First priority in the morning is to find a campsite, which will free us to begin exploring the Park.  We are at Rising Sun Campground by 10:00 an hour before the checkout deadline.   After driving around the campground we grab the last spot and it works out perfectly.  Set up for the Roadtrek amounts to putting out a tablecloth and filling out our payment envelope and then we are off to explore.  We will have everything we need with us for the day and a home to return to in the evening.

We are on the East side of Glacier and head up the highway that leads to Logan Pass.  There are many pull outs along the east side to stop and drink in the views and take many, many pictures.

There is a shuttle bus that transports tourists and hikers from one side of Glacier Park to the other side for FREE.   Or their are touring cars that transport visitors throughout the park combining witty commentary and park facts. 

By early afternoon, the pull overs are crowded making stops difficult.  We circled around the parking lot at Logan Pass like vultures waiting for a parking spot.... Alas a spot was not to be had while we were there so we elected to head back down towards our campsite and stop to do a hike at St Marys Falls.   

Ice carved out of the Rockies, mountain valleys and pristine lakes making Glacier one of the most spectacular National Parks in the Western United States.

We stop at the pull-outs where we can find a parking spot.  Each one is a postcard waiting for me to snap a picture.

With elevations that reach for the sky, melting snow flow downward creating strings of waterfalls tumbling and cascading with gravity leading the way.   After hours hopping in and out of the van I am ready for a walk in nature and am wanting to visit the sight of the 2015 Glacier Fire.  Since we arrived later in the afternoon we were able to get a parking spot so we were off to become a part of the landscape, if only for a while.

In the last 100 years, increasingly warming climate has melted all but 25 of the 150 glaciers that existed in 1850.   Long, hot summers causes bark beetle and spruce bud worm populations explosions that destroy the forest leaving them vulnerable to meg fires.    

On July 21,2015 yet, another fire believed to be human-caused erupted on the Eastern slopes of Glacier  Before it was contained the Reynolds fire burned 4000 acres and altered the landscape on the northern shores of St Mary's Lake. 

We hiked through part of the area burned less than a year before.  I was unsure of what to expect.

I have seen fire areas in the past that bore the scars of devastation for many, many years before renewal blooms again.  Yet this area burst forth in welcoming blooms less than one year after the scorching flames passed through. 

Evidence of fire lays everywhere....but so is the evidence of renewal.

The snows came in the winter leading to melting snows that continue to spill over the falls.

 St Mary's Falls

Around each bend another layers of Virginia Falls

The air smells of a musty campfire with the faint fragrances of the sweet wildflowers.

  Looking across the scenic, glacier-carved lake of St Mary's Lake, is a forest of dead-standing trees from the 2006 Red Eagle Fire that charred 34,000 acres.

 Nature may repair itself, but at its own time.

The beauty of Glacier Park deserves our best effort to preserve and protect it's magnificent beauty.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Face to Face with History in Great Falls Montana

The weather has been a bit stormy so it is wonderful to have some towny things to do.  I had planned a bit of time in Great Falls as I wanted to visit the Charles Russel Museum but I also just like to roam around to find what else there is to see and do.

Generally we arrive early in the day but some checking out the beautiful mansions in Helena helped us get a later than usual start so we arrived later in the day at Great Falls.

We first headed to the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center in Great Falls and arrived with plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful Museum.

There are many stops throughout the western states that give pieces of the Lewis and Clark history but this Interpretive Center weaves many of the stories together for visitors.  It has broad appeal and in my opinion a not to be missed stop for the casual visitor or the Lewis and Clark History buff.

                                          Meriwether Lewis                         William Clark

After many stops in Washington Oregon, Idaho and Montana we had gathered a great deal of  information about Lewis and Clark and had definitely learned the basics about Lewis and Clark.  I was still intrigued to learn more about how these two came together and also to learn more about their individual personalities that helped make their partnership so successful.

Their friendship was forged many years before the expedition when the two served together in the Military in 1793, when Lewis was in a Military Company commanded by Clark.  In 1801 Meriwether Lewis became a private secretary to President Thomas Jefferson.  In 1803 President Jefferson appointed Lewis as Commander of the expedition to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase.

Lewis selected Clark as his co-commander as he trusted him completely to carry on the command in the event of any emergency.   The War Department only authorized Clark as a Lieutenant.  Devastated by the news, Lewis could do nothing to rectify this slight to his friend.  Lewis and Clark never told the men of the expedition of the difference in rank and Lewis always treated Clark as his Co-Commander. 

        Lewis was serious, quiet and intense, while Clark was warm, outgoing and gregarious.

Lewis had gained much Military experience in his rapid rise from private to Captain in the Army and well as a great deal of practical experience with herbal plants and medicines.  Clark brought skills of map drawing, illustration and survey skills.  Their combined talents and respect for one another prepared them to become successful co-captains for the incredibly difficult task that they faced.

Both Lewis and Clark (as well of two enlisted members of the expedition) kept detailed journals documenting their travels.  The words recorded exceeded the number of words in the Bible.

As I roamed the displays of the visitor center I became far more fascinated in the human interaction of these two explorers than the details of hardship and locations of sites of their travel.

By far the most interesting exhibit at the center was a recreation of the canoe that they used while navigating the rivers and the "trailer" that they used to move it across land.   The display demonstrated the extraordinarily difficult task that faced the explorers in a way that words could never have expressed.

Displays with quotes from the diaries were particularly interesting. 

Meriwether Lewis...... Brief Glory - Mysterious Death

Following the Expedition, Lewis reported to Jefferson the findings of their travel, including the expedition maps, journals and collections.  Jefferson who was pleased with the results of the expedition, appointed him Governor of the Louisiana Territory.   Lewis spent the next three years embroiled in the politics of governing such a large territory.   On October 11, 1809 while on his way to Washington to settle a dispute regarding federal appropriations, he died of gunshot wounds , never having published his journals.

Jefferson and Clark believed Lewis committed suicide and most scholars today agree.  They point to Lewis' moods swings, frequent deep depression and his serious financial difficulties.  Other scholars and family believe he was murdered.  It remains unresolved to this day.

William Clark - Respected "Red-Headed Chief"

Following the Expedition Jefferson appointed Clark as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Louisiana Territory where he served for eighteen year.  He was known among the tribes as a fair and honest man.   After Lewis's death, Clark helps Nicholas Biddle to prepare a paraphrased edition of the journals that was published in 1814.  From 1813 to 1820 he served as Governor of the Missouri Territory.
Clark married Julia Hancock, (who he named the Judith River in Montana after).  Following her death in 1820 he married Harriet Radford.  He died at the home of his son, Meriwether Lewis Clark, in St. Louis in 1838.

 Clearly, the Lewis and Clark Expedition was the defining moment in the lives of these two explorers as well as the developing country. 

Near the visitor center is a Giant Springs State Park so we visited while we were nearby.
First recorded by the Lewis and Clark in 1805, it is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world, flowing at 156 million gallons of water per day!

We walked the cement path around the Springs and marveled at the surreal emerald green colors of the plants and bubbling waters.  As I walk this ground, I imagine what it looked like in the days of the Lewis and Clark Expedition before any development. 

We walked along the trail, and checked out the Giant Springs Fish Hatchery. 

There were no large tanks to be seen on the day we visited only the display tanks inside the visitor was a brief visit, the smells were overwhelming!

A evening walk along the rivers edge and we elected to stay and enjoyed a simple dinner that we prepared in the park.  SO handy to have everything you need....everywhere you go!!

 A road and a bike trail carriy you along the rivers edge to view the falls remaining after dam construction.

Low water levels are also due to summers heat exposing river banks. 

One of my main reasons for wanting to come to Great Falls would be our morning stop tomorrow.

But Sleep, Blessed Sleep Comes First......

Charlie Russell - Another Montana Favorite Son

I have always loved Charles Russell's Wild West Art.   It captured the interaction of old west characters without glamorizing the stereotypes of the Cowboys and Indians genre popular in his day.  

While I still had a sticks and bricks house I had a number of prints of Charles Russell's paintings and I was able to find a pic of one of them online to share with you.

"Camp Cooks Troubles"

The Museum did not allow interior photos which I honored but I was able to find a photo of one of the works of art that I found amazing.

It depicted a buffalo jump with the buffalo stampeding over the buffalo's broad back.

 Russell was a skilled artist with a talent for capturing both the early pioneer life and the Native American Culture  While he was not skilled in marketing his work, Nancy is generally given credit in making Russell an internationally known artist. She set up many shows for Russell throughout the United States and in London, creating many followers of Russell.

Charles Russell Art Studio

The museum is on the grounds of the house that he lived in with his family.  On the grounds is his studio which is undergoing renovation so it was not available for viewing at this time although you are able to go through the house.  I should like to see the studio one day.   .

On the day of Russell's funeral in 1926, all the children in Great Falls were released from school to watch the funeral procession. Russell's coffin was displayed in a glass sided coach, pulled by four black horses.  The coach is on display in the museum.

The buffalo is the treasured animal of the Montana Plains.

We will be leaving the Montana Plains heading to Glacier..... The flowers bid us goodbye.

Enjoy a song about Charles M. Russell sung by Ian Tyson from YouTube
Ian Tyson sings "The Gift" (Charlie Russell)