The other half of our Glacier National Park exploration would be done through the West Glacier entrance.  This time we wouldn’t be adventuring alone.  We were meeting up with old friends to catch up and enjoy the outdoors together.

Settling In

When we arrived at Fish Creek Campground it was cloudy but no rain yet.  The forecast was calling for rain for that evening so we set up our screened in shelter which has a waterproof top in case we wanted to hang out with friends during the rain.

It was so nice seeing old friends again and catching up on everyone’s lives.  These are east coast friends so our visits are few and far between.  My dear friend set up this Glacier NP friend trip and got the sites for the 3 families attending (which is no small feat– the sites go fast!) and the rest of us coordinated to make it work.  In total there were 7 girl kiddos, 4 adult women and 3 adult men.  Lots of ladies!

Just a small walk from the campground was Lake McDonald.  It is a huge lake, the biggest of the glacially carved lakes in the park, measuring 10 miles long and nearly 500 feet deep!  Isn’t that crazy?!  The shores are all made of lovely little colorful pebbles so it is a lot less mucky than a lot of lakes. All the girls had a blast playing with floating logs they found along the water’s edge.

By evening it had started raining so our friend hang out time was a bit cozy.  The kids all played in the screened in shelter while the adults all huddled under Wobbles’ (the airstream) awning. Despite the rain we all had a great time.  We were in a beautiful national park and able to catch up with one another.  At 10pm when quiet hours started we all were ready to get warm and cozy back at our own campsites.

Trail of the Cedars

The second day we all met up to walk the Trail of the Cedars together, an easy 1 mile loop.  Going to the Sun road was only open up until Avalanche Creek which is where the trailhead was for Trail of the Cedars.  Parking was very tricky at most of the trails and in the villages not only because there are a lot of people that visit the park but also because a large chunk of the park still remained closed due to snow and avalanche danger.  Park staff seemed fully aware of this fact and would not let vehicles in the park without a reservation.  All other visitors had to walk into the park on foot or bike, or wait until after 4pm to enter.  Because of the parking issue and convenience some of our friends were always riding in our van with us making the journey to the various spots in the park that much more enjoyable. 

The Trail of the Cedars was a 1 mile loop through beautiful forests lined with western red cedar, black cottonwood and western hemlock trees.  In some parts the trail was wide lined with packed natural duff and in other parts the trail followed a well maintained wooden boardwalk along the rushing Avalanche Creek.

The icy transparent blue waters, peaked with white tips, had carved a magnificent deep organically curvy path through the rock.  The path the water took looked as if someone had squiggled their finger down through thick fine sand.  The edges of the rock, which curved left-to-right and back again, were so smooth.  Water is really so powerful as the glacier formed landscape of Banff, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park have showed us.

John’s Lake

Since the first hike was such a short one we all decided to also hike the John’s Lake trail on our way back to the campground.  This was a 2 mile loop that led us through a moss covered forest past the small Johns Lake.  The lake was serene and covered with lily pads with Mt. Vaughn and Stanton Mountain as the backdrop.

The next part of the hike was my favorite.  We could hear the roaring of water of McDonald Creek as we approached the massive McDonald Falls.  It was amazing to see how much water was coming down off the falls and it made me wonder what it would look like toward the end of the summer when there is perhaps significant less snow melt from the mountains above.  These are the falls that feed the expansive McDonald Lake.  It was really very beautiful!

After these beautiful hikes most of the crew went out for some tasty ice cream at Eddies while Justin went to get our boats inspected to use within the park.  The boat inspection involved unrolling each boat and letting park officials visually inspect them as well as having a trained dog sniff for potential muscle larva.  For our bigger inflatable boat it had some small bits of sand in it so Justin blew it up a little bit for the boat officials to wash it to ensure there would be no contamination to their waters.  Even though this was cumbersome, I’m glad they were being careful.