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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Post - A Visit to Glacier National Park

Today's entry is a guest post by Ken Brown, the creator of Adgitize (a one-time blog advertising network). It seems that he had stopped by and seen my posts about tracking. So he sent me the first picture that you see below. I asked if he would like to tell about how he saw it, here, and he sent this great article and more pictures. (Great timing! I have an actual temp job that is keeping me very busy right now.) So enjoy this adventure, compliments of Ken Brown.

Three years ago, my wife Mary and I visited Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana. The Rocky Mountains rise to over 14,000 feet and is home for 35 glaciers. There are many trails to explore both for the average tourist and the more adventurous hiker.

grizzly printThe glaciers have carved the mountains into a wonderland of valleys, streams, lakes and sharp mountain peaks (known as horns if my memory of college geology serves me.) You can find many animals from mule deer to mountain goats in this mountainous region. But, today's article will be based on an animal foot print that we came across. Here is a picture of it. Go ahead and try to identify it as I tell you how we happened upon the print.

Glacier LodgeIn the northeast corner of Glacier National park is an area known as Many Glacier. Coming into the park from the east you drive along Many Glacier Road which runs for 4 miles alongside Lake Sherburne on the south and the huge mountain peaks of Dancing Lady Mountain on the north. You finally arrive at Many Glacier Hotel. The Lodge was built between 1910 and 1915 and the room sizes reflect the needs of the people of that time period.

If you use binoculars you can see mountain goats grazing on the mountainside. The Hotel faces the large Swiftcurrent Lake which is over 1000 feet wide at points. The area offers outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding. It is a great point to start an adventure of back country hiking.

We only had a day at this section of the park and chose to do a tour that included boating on two separate lakes and less hiking. Our goal was to do some hiking around the Lake Josephine area. We took the first boat which launched from Many Glacier Hotel onto Swiftcurrent Lake.

The Swiss Chalet style hotel is huge but as our boat traveled south on the lake the hotel was dwarfed by the mountain back drop. When we reached the southernmost point of the lake we disembarked the boat and walked half a mile to the next lake. Another short boat ride and soon we were in the old forests of Glacier National Park 3 or 4 miles from civilization.

Lake Josephine

We walked another mile with our little group of 40 tourists until we reached Lake Josephine. The guide told us about the different animals to be found in the region and she recommended that we yell out the words, "yo bear" every hundred yards or so.

Glacier National Park is home to over 600 grizzly bears. Many call the Many Glacier area their home. One of the favorite activities of tourists of the Many Glacier hotel is to spend the afternoon with binoculars watching for Grizzly bears foraging for food in the mountain meadows.

Lake Josephine and the surrounding mountain is a beautiful area. It was late September and winter was due to arrive in the next 30 to 60 days. Bears were harvesting food from the surrounding forest to prepare for their hibernation. The guide encouraged us to wander around the area just remember to get to the boat on time.

old forest

Mary and I decided to see some more of the area. It didn't take us long to leave the comfort of the large group of people and realize that we were in a wilderness area. The paths had been well traveled but were small and the large pine trees prevented the late afternoon sun from reaching all areas of the forest floor.

We realized that we weren't interested in visiting with the local inhabitants and continued to yell out, "yo bear." The surrounding quiet spooked us. Chicago is a noisy area with traffic noises, ambulances and few places to really "get away from it all." The wild raspberries were ripe and ready for picking which made us aware that bears might also be in the area.

Melting glaciers create mountain streams and eventually run into Lake Josephine. We crossed over a small bridge made of fallen logs and noticed the foot print formed in the muddy mountain stream bank. We should have put our hand next to it to give a comparison of size, but it would mean we would have gotten muddy and we didn't want to do that. The print was larger than a coffee cup saucer but smaller than a regular size dinner plate.

So, have you figured out what animal created the print? Yes, it is a Grizzly bear paw print. Have you ever seen a grizzly bear? We have seen a few through our travels. We have seen a couple of baby bears and their mother half walking half rolling down a mountainside. We have walked within 50 feet of a teenager grizzly. Luckily he was more afraid of us than we were of him. And have seen a full grown grizzly foraging in a meadow less than 100 feet away.

Put Glacier National Park on your list of must see places in the world. Spend at least 3 days to see all the majesty of this park carved by glaciers. There are easy hikes for tourists like me, Avalanche creek trail, St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. I hope you enjoy the park.

Thanks, Ken! See you tomorrow, all.

Ken Brown's blog


RNSANE said...

Shark, I really enjoyed Ken's pictures and story about Glacier National Park. The grizzly print is awesome but I doubt that I would have relished seeing the bear that left it behind...not close up, at least!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading about the Glacier National Park. Fascinating information and story..

wenn said...

that's lovely..

Ken Brown said...

@RNSane - we had no desire to see the bear either. The print was huge, I can't imagine how big the bear was.

rainfield61 said...

Another great tracking work to be followed.

Marg said...

Those were great pictures and a wonderful story. Sounds like a great place to visit. I would enjoy seeing the animals.

Glynis Peters said...

A lovely read, very interesting thanks. No I have never met a grizzly bear, DH reckons he meets one every morning though ;0

Rick (Ratty) said...

A pretty good story. After having even deer threatening me several times, after everybody tells me how harmless they are, I don't think I would want to have anything to do with any bears.

Ken Brown said...

@Wenn - it is beautiful country. Living in the Chicago area you don't see any mountains, so we just stand in awe looking at the splendor of nature.

@Ratty - two weeks before we arrived at GNP a couple of people were attacked by a grizzly bear. They were "saved" from certain death by jumping down a 35 foot cliff. They were still in the hospital when our vacation started. We didn't want anything to do with them up close and personal.

@Glynis - great sense of humor. Western Montana is such beautiful country. The joke we heard about escaping from bears was just make sure you can run faster than the person you are with. (Never try to outrun a bear, you can't win that race.)

@Marg - if you can't get to Montana, Yosemite National Park in California has Grizzlies too.

123 said...

nice stuff.