Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 48: Two Sisters Cafe to Many Glacier

I watched the sunrise from the St. Mary's ranger station, waiting to be first in line when the doors opened for backcountry permits. Other hikers began arriving shortly after 6:30.   Maggie, in line behind me, was hoping for the same permit because she and her husband had just finished section hiking the CDT ending at the Chief Mountain terminus, and wanted to see the Waterton terminus as well. After securing the last permit, I offered to share it with Maggie and her husband, so we will be camping with them the next two days. 

Back on the road, we passed a sea of tents, the incident base for the Reynolds Fire. Helicopters soared back and forth from the heliport to the fire, hotshots dangling below the helicopters from long cords. Golden eagles hunted near the heliport, probably perplexed by all the commotion and activity. 

Our route took us right past the Bunk House Ice Creamery in Babb. We entered through the old-fashioned saloon doors and walked right up to the ice cream bar, where we were served a delicious mint chocolate chip shake and beachcomber waffle cone. Sierra continued munch her cone as we hiked on toward Many Glacier. Roadwalking around a fire closure might not be our first choice, but it definitely has its perks!

Our excitement mounted as we neared Many Glacier and the once-distant mountains now towered overhead.  Despite the incredible views, cars zipped past on the narrow two-lane road. We watched as a truck roared past a motorhome, almost running off the road when the motorhome shifted over to give us a wide berth. A ranger pulled over and kindly offered us a ride to the campground. We appreciated his thoughtfulness, although we continued to walk. 

We settled into the hiker/biker site at the campground. We were just finishing up when the campground hostess cruised past on her large trike. 

Many Glacier Lodge opened for business in 1915, exactly 100 years ago. Built in Swiss Chalet style by the railroad (a scheme to attract more tourists to the park), the lodge is beautiful, with huge logs from Oregon and Washington, full length windows overlooking the lake, and a dining room with high ceilings and a huge stone fireplace. My father took us there, and the three of us shared a delicious dinner. 

Back at the campground we enjoyed an evening ranger program by a local member of the Blackfeet tribe and the Blood people. He shared stories from his childhood growing up at a Native American boarding school, as well as a few legends passed down by his people. A light rain began just as the program was ending, and we scurried off to the tent. 

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