Early morning on Lake McDonald in Glacier Park. It was sooooo quiet.
I’m glad we went to Glacier this last week, because certain areas in the park are closed a couple of weeks early because of bear activity. We saw an adolescent Black Bear in the road, but he was a smart bear, and ran back into the woods as soon as he saw us.
Happy first day of Fall!!!
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The lake was the result of an ice dam on the Clark Fork caused by the southern encroachment of a finger of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet into the Idaho Panhandle (at the present day location of Clark Fork, Idaho at the east end of Lake Pend Oreille). The height of the ice dam typically approached 610 metres (2,000 ft), flooding the valleys of western Montana approximately 320 kilometres (200 mi) eastward. It was the largest ice-dammed lake known to have occurred.
Approximately forty times over a 2000 year period, the glacial ice dam ruptured, and the contents of Lake Missoula went screaming across the Idaho Panhandle, Eastern Washington (creating the Scablands), and the Columbia River Gorge. You can see that the flood even reached my little corner of the world on the Snake River.
The cumulative effect of the floods was to excavate 210 cubic kilometres (50 cu mi) of loess, sediment and basalt from the channeled scablands of eastern Washington and to transport it downstream. These floods are noteworthy for producing canyons and other large geologic features through cataclysms rather than through more typical gradual processes.
If you drive across Eastern Washington, you’ll see that even today it looks like a virtual wasteland. Being in the rain shadow of the Cascades has something to do with it, but the main culprit was flood after flood after flood scouring off the land. It’s really quite fascinating to imagine the raw and determined power of WATER.
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Scraped into the Earth by the massive power of gigantic glaciers and the insidious power of erosion, Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. It’s ten miles long, and its surface covers over 6000 acres.
This is one of the last pictures I took in the park, having walked down a small embankment to the water’s edge. The shadows cast due to the lowering Sun made me understand the meaning of “purple mountains majesty.” The quiet was interrupted only by the occasional car on the Going to the Sun Road, and the chatter of a raven in the tree tops, which seemed to be my constant companion on this trip. The water was cold, clear, and almost still. Beneath my feet was not the sand I expected, but small pebbles of grey, blue, pink, cream, and white, that were flat with rounded edges.
Imagine the constant, unrelenting force that turned mountains into pebbles.
Last picture of the trip. Time to hit the road, Honeybump.
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My fellow travelers swore they could see the Mountain Goats on the rocks with the naked eye. Yeah…right.
They are cute, aren’t they!? This little guy and a friend were in the road, right in front of me, so I stopped to let them get over to the delicious grasses. Thanks for coming close enough for me to see you, Mountain Goats!!
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So I’m driving along Going To The Sun Road, headed up to Logan’s Pass along with several dozen other cars and “jammers” (red tour buses), and we’re stopped not far from our destination by road construction. The flagger said it would be about 30 minutes — 30 minutes!!?? Well, alrighty then.
Okay, so stretch the legs for a while, listen to the “jammer” driver talk to her blue-haired charges about how the famous red tour buses got their name — they used to have to double clutch every time they changed gears, which was a lot on that road, but since they were updated (under the hood only) in the last few years, the only thing they’re jamming inside as many riders as possible — listen to the sounds of water running un-seen and birds singing, watch the butterflies sampling the wildflowers, and take a bunch of pictures.
In the above picture, you can see the ongoing road construction on the left side of the photo, and Bird Woman Falls is peeking out from between the trees in the middle. Bird Woman Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Glacier National Park, and it’s fed by melting snow and the remainder of a glacier on Mount Oberlin, and is an excellent example of a hanging valley, wherein two glaciers have flowed into or past one another. Imagine the size of the glacier that scraped that huge chunk out of Mount Oberlin…
As shown in the title of this post, this is the very first photo I took in Glacier National Park. Yes, McDonald Lake comes before these falls, but the light was crappy for pictures of the lake.
Upper McDonald Creek Falls is a pretty falls that runs next to the Going To The Sun Road inside the park. This time of year, it runs swift and clear and gorgeous, but in the early Spring it’s a raging torrent that carries along boulders and trees. I wish I could have seen that!
Most of the attractions in the park aren’t really marked that well, so if you never get out of your car, you’ll miss things like this falls. Too bad, so sad — get out of your car, sillies!!