Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sept 12th - Whitefish to East Glacier

The original plan for this second day of the Big Sky Oil Leak was to drive the Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier National Park, and then drive north into Canada, explore Waterton Park, and stay overnight. Fires in Glacier Park closed the Going-to-the-Sun road, and caused Waterton Park to be evacuated. As a result, our plans had to change, but we made the best of a bad situation.

We started the day by driving as far into the park on the west side as smoke conditions permitted. The road was closed at the end of Lake McDonald and the village of Apgar.

This is the view we could expect to see on a clear day....

This is what we saw today... 
Once again, Christine's forethought came to our assistance, as she provided everyone with masks to protect us from inhaling the smoke. Given the reports we'd received, the smoke was less pervasive than we'd expected here, though we were grateful for the masks later in the day. No stop would be complete without a little under-bonnet tinkering....

Rick and Glen in silent prayer as Norm tightens a leaky fuel banjo
As the Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier Park was closed, we had to make a diversion to reach the East side of the Park. This was accomplished via Hwy 2, Hwy 49, and Hwy 89 which brought us to the Eastern Entrance to the park in St Mary. The drive on Hwy 49 was particularly enjoyable with spectacular mountain views and very little smoke. As St Mary, we regrouped and took the Going-to-the-Sun Road westbound into the park as far as Logan Pass where the road was closed. The smoke was pretty bad, but this meant that traffic was greatly reduced from usual levels, so at least we were able to find space in the parking lot.

This view doesn't look too smoky, but on a clear day this peak would be topped by others on either side in the background

One of the vintage 1930's tour buses used throughout the park
Just before we left the Logan Pass parking lot, we were fortunate enough to be visited by a Bighorn Sheep who posed for photos for several minutes, before wandering off into the bush.

Bighorn sheep at Logan Pass
From Logan Pass we headed to our overnight hotels. Most of the group stayed in East Glacier, where we will assemble again tomorrow morning. Debbie and I stayed in St Mary, so we have a bit of a drive early tomorrow morning to catch up with the group. Maybe the smoke will clear overnight, and we'll get a few clear photos before we set off...

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