The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, and as such this blog post has been in progress for quite some time. More on that later, but without further ado, here’s my account of our trip up to Glacier, which is now over a week ago. Enjoy!
Aside from traveling for races, it is rare that I drive somewhere in order to do a bike ride. Last weekend, though, somewhere between grunting up the winding road towards Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, whizzing down a smooth section of road through the woods, making s’mores at the campfire, and getting up the next morning to hike some of the best trails in the region, I realized that perhaps I should make the time for trips like these a little more often.
We woke up Saturday morning to the smell of fresh-made bagels. Our roommate, Bill, who wasn’t able to make the trip, was up early preparing them, and generously gave us a few for the road.
After making some grilled tempeh sandwiches with the bagels and packing a cooler full of various other foodstuffs, Kailee and I hit the road for the 3 hour drive up to Glacier, where we were slated to meet up with our riding partners for the day, Debbie and Holly. We met up at Lake McDonald Lodge and, after a bite to eat, saddled up.
There are a lot of reasons the Going-To-The-Sun Road is a popular cycling route. One of the chief reasons is that in the spring, it opens up for bicycle traffic before it opens for motorized use. During this brief period, cyclists flock to the park to take in the scenery and enjoy a car-free experience. The closure starts at Avalanche, which is 6 miles up the road from where we started at Lake McDonald. For that section and several miles afterward, we had smooth, pristine pavement.
As the day wore on, the miles started to add up and so did the elevation. The trademark breathtaking vistas did not disappoint.
For the last few miles before we arrived at the end of the line – that is, the point where the plows had stopped for the weekend – the road was wet and littered with debris from snowmelt and fallen rock from the cliffs above, factors that would later prove to make the first part of the descent a little technical. The temperature was dropping as well, but fortunately, the consistent 5-6% grade kept us pretty warm on the way up, and we had more clothing to put on for the descent.
We knew we were getting very near our destination when we started to encounter snow corridors.
…and finally, after several hours of climbing:
After a brief stop to take some photos and enjoy the scenery, we donned our long sleeves and gloves for the ripping descent back to Lake McDonald. I apologize for not taking any photos of that part, but I’m sure those of you who are cyclists understand…
After our return to the lodge, Debbie and Holly headed back to Missoula, but Kailee and I had decided to camp for the night, so we had some time before sunset to hike around a bit. We trekked the two and a half miles up to Avalanche lake in the evening, which was wonderful.
We made it back down just before sunset, made our way back to camp for some dinner and s’mores, and hit the hay.
The next morning, we had some time before we needed to head back home, so we did some more hiking, first to John’s Lake, which is a very short walk right by the road, then to Fish Lake.
The Fish Lake trail involves a whole lot of elevation gain very quickly, but when we got there we were pleased to find a nice picnic spot with nobody around except this little guy, who was bound and determined to share our lunch, despite our efforts to the contrary:
After lunch, we hiked out and made our way back home, resolving to plan for more trips like this in the future.
Until next time, get out there and enjoy the outdoors!