Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vacation (Pt. 4)

Never fear, we're approaching the end of the I-took-a-vacation-weeks-ago posts. Although I'm going on the assumption that they're not actually a chore given that it's mostly just pictures anyway. Thursday was the biggest of our hikes and one we hadn't planned ahead of time but had been told about and decided sounded more fun then what we actually had planned.

So Thursday morning we drove down the Going-to-the-Sun road to Logan Pass. V. pretty drive.

From Logan Pass we took the Highline trail 7.6 miles to the Granite Park Chalet. Built at the time of the Many Glacier Hotel, tourists used to horseback ride up to the little chalet to spend the night. You can still stay there, provided you make reservations about a year in advance, but now you generally hike in.

(View from along the trail.)

(Approaching the Granite Park Chalet--that's my father in the foreground, and my sister just turning the corner.)

When we got to the Chalet, I found a nice place to sit while my father and sister did a tough couple miles up to a lookout. (You may have gotten the impression that I'm the out-of-shape one of the three of us. This impression would be correct.) So while they hiked I settled down at a picnic table to read The Master and Margarita (having finished the Millay biography) and people/scenery watch.

(The view from my picnic table)

I did meet some rather interesting people. An entire group of older gentlemen shared the table with me at one point, all introducing themselves to me by name. Apparently it was an annual trip for them. They were loud and friendly and several of them had pins that said, "Ask me about male bondage bonding."

Around 3:30 Erin and my father got back from their section of the hike--apparently it had great views but was rather difficult--and we headed back the way we'd come. On the hike to the Chalet it had been pretty crowded. On the way back we barely saw anyone. And when the trail is emptier apparently the animals come out to use it (path of least resistance I suppose).

The first animal we saw walking along was a stag. Unfortunately he stepped off the trail to graze just as we got close enough for photographs.

Erin also saw a marmoset (such adorable, fat little things) on the trail, although by the time my father and I caught up to her it had wedged itself between some rocks and all we could see was a bit of wiggling fur.

(Erin's photo of him/her on his/her way into hiding.)

Our closest encounter though, was of a Mountain goat and her kid. They had been walking on the trail ahead of us, and then the kid walked to the side and she lay down in the middle of the trail. This presented a bit of a conundrum because, although you can't see it in this picture, the mountain rises straight up to the left of the trail. So we essentially had to walk right past her on the trail. We felt bad about it both because she seemed nervous (you can't tell in the picture but she was breathing quite heavily) and because she had quite the set of horns and you never know.

As we walked past her though, giving her as much space as possible, she got up to stand between us and her baby, who didn't seem to care about us much at all.

Our final encounter was with a Bighorn sheep (my favorite of the animals we saw in Glacier--very handsome animals) who sauntered along the trail ahead of us for some time. He then stopped, peed on the trail, and trotted off.

15.2 miles, 5 new blisters, and one bruised foot later, we were done with all our hiking for the trip.

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