Friday, July 29, 2011

The Secret Ingredient Is...Glacial Powder

July 29th

It’s Friday already? Imagine that. Dan and I are wearing matching tie dye shirts. I hate when I match shirts with someone. Now we probably seem like dirty hippies to the locals. We definitely look (and probably smell the part) anyway. After some good old yumplestillskins breakfast, we set off for Logan’s Pass. Just an aside, returning to 80 degree weather is hard work when we are used to upper 50s during the day and upper 30s during the night. For those of you who don’t know, Logan’s Pass is the highest point in elevation along the Going to the Sun road, which is also the highest point you can drive your car in Glacier. We decided to try out the Hidden Lake Trail, no more than a couple miles, but the catch was that the trail itself was buried a few feet under snow. Therefore, we had to trek across the white landscape uphill, the whole way. At the base of the trail, there was a wide gap where people could walk at their leisure. You had the slow old folks, the energetic youngins, and the foolish lovers holding hands, where if one went down, they all went down. As the path got steeper, the trail got so narrow it was single file. If you had traffic coming the other way, it was game over man, game over. We looked like a scene right out of March of the Penguins. Those unfortunate enough to forget their sunglasses in the car were treated to a nice dose of sun glare right in the eyes. We were in that group, yay us. The wind was also pretty strong, and on the way there it was blowing right in our faces. Brrrr is an understatement. About a mile up, we stopped at a miniature glacial pond with very clear waters as one would expect. It was like a desert oasis, except there was no sand, no heat, no cactus, just snow and some pine trees. In the trees to our right we noticed a lone mountain goat, not fifteen feet from the trail. We couldn’t get a good glance at it so we moved on. A little ways ahead and uphill to the right, there stood another mountain goat, about fifty feet away. As Dan frantically tried to switch lenses, we both feared that the opportunity of capturing the creature would soon turn sour. We were wrong. The goat decided to mosey on down at an extremely relaxed pace, crossing the trail directly in front of us. Needless to say, we got our photo op, and Dan was stunned by this odd behavior. I on the other hand, have been jaded once again due to my work at Safari. I have noticed a lot of parallels between the animals at Six Flags, and the “wildlife” in National Parks. Having to deal with tourists, hikers, and passerbyes constantly every day, the wildlife has been hardcore conditioned to humans, just like the animals at Six Flags were conditioned to cars every day. Therefore, I was not surprised at the slightest to see this goat simply ignore the people around it, when in reality it should be hesitant and avoid us. Soon the goat was lost within the trees, and we continued on. We finally made it to the overlook of Hidden Lake, after losing a few good men, some cattle, and poor Billy was bitten by a poisonous snake. He never stood a chance. They might as well call this spot Mountain Goat Villa. There must have been at least five goats in the vicinity. There was no feeling of worry over getting a nice shot, for there were many chances of doing so. The area was completely covered in snowfall, except the raised walkway upon which we stood had been cleared. Hidden Lake was a ways down the mountain, about 75% of it remaining out of sight due to snow and ice. If you weren’t searching hard enough, it would have been hidden from view, get it? Hidden? Bad joke aside, this place was beautiful. I knew that we would never step foot on a place like this any other time on our journey. I hope that I do return to these places sometime again in my future, I’d love to share these experiences with more people. I asked a ranger why all of the lakes were such a beautiful turquoise in color. She gave the explanation that basically as the glacier moves among the mountains, chunks of rocks get captured in the sliding ice, which creates friction amongst them. This friction causes the rocks to release a tiny powder, which then gets washed away in the melted snow. The final ingredient is the angle of which the sunlight hits the particles in the water, turning it turquoise. And there you have it, picturesque glacial water is born. All due to glacial powder baby, rock dust. Nature is awesome!

So going down the mountain snow was a different story altogether. It was time to put our boot skies on once again. Well I did anyway, as Dan had an expensive camera to protect. I found my inner child and ran down the mountainside, planting my feet in the snow and sliding a good distance. I repeated this obnoxiously for a while. Then I hurt my knee and realized I am not that youthful anymore. Go figure, a minute later Dan and I raced down the snow. Did you know that running full speed down a snowy hill is slightly easier than going at a snail’s pace? Well it is, so deal with it. Having this hike under our belt, we moved on, leaving Glacier behind us. This place was pure magic. As another aside, we just drove past a tent selling a cornucopia of tie dye shirts, cloths, and everything in between. We should have stopped there, as we are both wearing TIE DYE SHIRTS. We were fools, Fools! They could have been our new best friends. Where was I? We said farewell to Glacier National Park, and seeked out lunch, and huckleberry was on our minds. This town had done an excellent job of placing the little berry deep within the folds of consciousness, on par with Wall Drug (Curse you Wall Drug). Perhaps it was the tireless journey of constantly being turned down from a slice of huckleberry pie, or maybe the three day wait had created a false image of flavor superiority, but when I took my first bite I was greeted by a mouthful of crushed dreams. Well, it wasn’t that it was bad, it was actually pretty good, but just not Oh my stars this is the fruit of the Gods sort of deal. Raspberry is still number one in my book. Dan agreed that the pie was good, but nothing special. Advertising had gotten the better of us once again. Jerks. Montana is weird because liquor stores can’t carry beer, you have to go to a grocery store or gas station to pick that stuff up. Quite different than New Jersey. The word on the street is that the Montanan (spelling?) government gets good money by running things this way. I have no comment on this.

We just crossed into Idaho, and coincidentally gained another hour of travel time, yay! Driving East is going to suck I’ll tell you that much. The scenery is pretty much the same as Montana. Mountains, hills, pine forests, rivers, and lakes. We passed a sheep farm, that was a first. We crossed over a river called Yaak River, I’m curious to know how it got that name. Maybe some Yak used to be mayor, who knows?

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