Home is where we are parked

Home is where we are parked
Home is where we are parked

Saturday, July 6, 2019

MT -- St Mary, 14-28 Jun 2019

Two weeks in St Mary MT...

Why we came...
To explore the east side of Glacier National Park!

The campground...
The St Mary/East Glacier KOA is in the very small community of St Mary. It is a mile off of Highway 89 so we didn’t hear any highway traffic. It’s a big campground with about 108 RV sites, almost 40 Kabins, and over 50 tent sites. These are estimates because they are continuing to expand.

They have good amenities that include a large laundry with 20 washers/20 dryers, pool, hot tub/sauna, snack bar, fire rings, dog park, store, plus they offer fishing guides and park tours. They have clean restrooms/showers.

We were placed in a pull-through that was a bit unlevel. We saw other sites that were very unlevel. We had full hookups and there was decent space between the sites. There are only a few trees so it was not a problem getting satellite. Fortunately, there was a good Verizon signal because the w-fi was non-existent throughout most of the park. The wi-fi was being upgraded and only worked IN the office.

The park’s rules on the number of people allowed in each site are pretty loose. A lot of RV sites had two or three vehicles and some sites had two or three tents pitched next to the RV. That made the campground quite cramped and there were people bustling everywhere till late at night.

The first day, we were welcomed by a red fox in the campground. That afternoon we went for a walk and saw a mama elk and her brand new baby down by the St Mary River as it runs into the lower lake.
The campground is in a spectacular setting
We had full hook-ups and great views but it was costly
Nearby towns...
St Mary, at elevation 4,484 feet, “is on the western border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation adjacent to Glacier National Park. Fewer than 50 people reside in the village year-round; however, the population increases tenfold on a busy summer evening. Several lodges, restaurants and cafés, a small grocery store, two gas stations and campgrounds are located in the village. A large housing area for National Park Service personnel is located adjacent to the village, but within the park.” 

Babb, at elevation 4,524 feet, is only a 15 minute drive from St Mary. “It is a small farming and ranching community on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Babb has a population of 174. The community experiences a large influx of tourist in the summer months as it is the gateway to the Many Glacier area. It includes one school, a U.S. Post Office, a fire station, Thronson's General Store and Motel, several restaurants, two churches, and a gas station. Alcohol is not sold in Babb.” 

Browning, population ~1,000 and elevation 4,375 feet, is 40 miles east.  It has a few restaurants, stores, and basic services.  The grocery store was decent and gas/diesel was a $1 cheaper than St Mary. It is the headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Kalispell, population ~22,000 and elevation 2,956 feet, is 85 miles and a two hour and 15 minute journey to the southwest if you take the Going to the Sun Highway or a 130 circuitous miles and two and a half hours when the highway is not open the other eight to nine months of the year.

It is the main shopping and service center in the area.  It feels much bigger and busier than its 22,000 people population.  In fact, Wikipedia says there are nearly 100,000 people living in the Kalispell area, which includes Columbia Falls and Whitefish.

On 15 June we hiked to a couple of waterfalls…
We drove in past pretty St Mary Lake and parked at the Saint Mary Falls Trailhead. There were just a few other cars parked there at 08:30 in the morning.

Our goal for the cloudy day was to see St Mary and Virginia Falls. We could see Virginia Falls magically appearing out of the mountain a few miles in the distance.

As we moved down the soft and level trail, we were surrounded by the black tree ghosts, reminders of a fire a few years ago. But all around us the lush green shrubbery was a few feet high with lots of wildflowers decorating the scenery… signs of a healthy burn.

There was a lot of contrasting white Beargrass and purple Rocky Mountain Penstemon. Through the charred tree trunks we could see the lake and the surrounding mountains.

The trail moved into the forest. At the base one tree we spied a silver tipped hoary marmot. He stayed put as we neared within a few feet. His Alaskan marmot cousins would have whistled sharply if we were that close.

After an easy mile we arrived at the very pretty St Mary Falls. Even though they were in peak runoff, the water was still a pretty aqua color as it tumbled over 35 feet down a triple tier. A nice bridge crossed the creek allowing us to appreciate the pretty scene from different angles.

The trail pitched up slightly for the next mile and there were a few rocky areas. We took breaks where Virginia Creek cascaded beautifully near the trail. These sets of falls aren’t even named but they were very pretty. The sound of rushing water accompanied us all the way. We continually called to any bears to let know that we were “just moving through”.

We could feel the spray of Virginia Falls before we climbed out of the trees and saw it. There was a lot of water tumbling down in a long veil. There was a bridge that leads you to an area at the base and we could only stand there for a few minutes before getting soaked and cold. We moved down to a more sheltered spot below and took a nice break.

We saw only a few folks on the way up. However, on the way back down the trail, a couple hundred people in small groups were working their way up to see the beautiful falls.

On our drive back along the lake traffic was nearly blocked due to a “wildlife jam”. Arleen grabbed a camera. Right next to the road was a yearling black bear cub up in a tree. We watched for a few minutes and he seemed to curl up and take a nap in his perch. Then on the opposite side of the road, we saw a cinnamon-colored black bear that might have been the cub’s momma. She didn’t seem too concerned about the cub as she ambled away.
Hike route to St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls
One of the unnamed waterfalls along the way
We made friends with a marmot
Virginia Falls
Virginia Falls
Virginia Falls
A bear we saw on the way home
Another bear we saw on the way home

On 16 June we did another special bike ride…
We woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning! It was perfect for another bike ride up the “Going to the Sun Highway”! It was our last opportunity to make it all the way because the road was expected to open to traffic that weekend.

We parked where the road was closed at the Gunsight Trailhead parking. The road from here pitched up immediately unlike the west side that allowed us to warm up.

We took several breaks to appreciate the enormity of the incredible scenery around us and to also catch our breath. It was only just over 5 miles to the pass but it was a tough 5 miles with 1,500 feet of climbing.

We celebrated as we slowly rolled up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. We had just ridden our bikes up a road that is often rated #1 of America’s Best Drives!

We joined a few dozen other folks relaxing in the empty parking lot. In a week’s time it would be jam-packed with vehicles. I rode down the west side to the first pullout to grab a picture on that side too.

The ride back down took little time. It was lot of fun. We even ate a bug or two since our mouths were wide open in a huge grin! We waved to the numerous folks that were still riding uphill.
Bike route up the Going-to-the-Sun road
Headed up the empty road.  We have our own National Park again!
How many waterfalls are there? See the tunnel?
First big patch of snow
This was the largest snowbank along the route
We saw a couple of bighorn sheep just above the tunnel
One of the pretty waterfalls along the road
It’s SO incredible!
We made it! Logan Pass, 6,646ft
Hike to Rocky Point and Baring Falls…
On the way home we stopped at Sun Point and walked the easy lakeside trail to look at the pretty Baring falls as they come squirting out of Sunrift Gorge.
Hike route to Rocky Point and Baring Falls
Baring Falls
St Mary Lake
St Mary Lake

On 17 June we did two hikes…
Redrock Falls…
We had a physically challenging hike planned the next day so we wanted to give our legs a break. We also wanted to see the Many Glacier area that many people feel is the prettiest section of the park.

We drove to tiny Babb and turned west. The road was horrendous with deep pot holes and ruts. It improved only slightly after we were in the park. Heavy trucks (like ours), RVs, and huge tour busses are definitely taking their toll on the road.

The scenery just got more incredible as we passed beyond Sherburne Lake and came upon Swiftcurrent Lake. From near the lodge we could see a 270o wall of mountains: Apikuni, Ptarmigan, Wilbur, Grinnell, Angel Wing and Allen. And tucked up in each cirque was a lake and glacier! It was a mesmerizing view and we could see why folks just sat in the lodge staring out the window from the enormous lobby area.

We drove just a short mile to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Trailhead. It was quiet at eight o’clock in the morning with plenty of parking. It was nearly full when we’d return a few hours later.

We followed the trail into the woods and west around Fishercap Lake into the shadow of Wilbur and Grinnell Peaks. We poked our heads out of the woods to take a look at the shallow lake hoping to spot moose to no avail.

The scenery opened up more as we approached Redrock Lake. We could see our goal, the falls, in the distance. After walking through another grove of pines and climbing a short stretch we emerged to see the picturesque falls.

The pretty aqua falls are appropriately named since they tumble down a number of cascading red rocks. The colors make for a startling contrast!

“Steep red mountainsides and glacial lakes are two of the distinguishing features of Montana’s Glacier National Park. The red rocks are part of the Grinnell Formation, a stack of lightly metamorphosed sedimentary rocks up to 2,600 feet thick. Iron oxide (rust) in the rocks creates the red hue.”

We climbed the trail next to the falls and tried to get pictures from different levels and perspectives. We took a nice long break on one large flat rock and rested to the soothing sound of rushing water.

We retraced our steps down the trail. Just past Redrock Lake, a number of hikers had paused and were looking up onto one of the lower shoulders of Wilbur. It was a bear! Arleen quickly got out her binoculars. We both tried to get pictures of the large Grizzly as he posed for us on the edge.

It had been a great day and it was not even noon yet! We headed back to the truck.
Hike route Redrock Falls in the Many Glacier area
Redrock Lake was a mirror
Nearing the waterfall.  It’s obvious how it got its name.
Redrock Falls step down in multiple cascades
This is the view about half way up
This is above the falls
Looking farther upstream.
We watched this bear for awhile.  It was pretty far away.
Apikuni Falls…
After the Redrock Falls hike, we drove toward the exit. We were fortunate that a parking spot was available at the Apikuni Falls trailhead.

We set out on the easy trail though a meadow that was just starting to burst in wildflowers. Once on the other side of the meadow the trail pitched up and became very rocky. We commented to each other how it was not exactly the break our legs needed after cycling the day before and a big hike planned the next day.

It was just under a mile to the falls with almost 700 feet of climbing.

We scrambled up some rocks and scree at the base of the falls to get a better look. The water cascaded over a 100 feet through a narrow shoot! As with all falls we saw this season, they were totally full and were very impressive compared to the picture at the trailhead.

Once again, we took a long break next to the rushing water. Then we slowly retraced our steps down the trail being careful as we picked our way down over 700 feet. Our quads burned and we knew they’d get a bigger workout the next day.
Hike route to Apikuni Falls in the Many Glacier area
Headed up towards the waterfall
This is the best view of the valley along the occasionally steep trail
We had the pretty waterfall to ourselves and lingered for awhile

On 18 June we checked out the Two Medicine area…

The drive...
The drive to the Two Medicine area just south of St Mary took us an hour and a half. To get there, we had to drive over the impressive Looking Glass Road. When we saw signs saying vehicles were limited to 21 feet, we got a little antsy but knew we were in for a treat.

“This twisty road with gorgeous vistas, Highway 49, lies completely within the Blackfeet Reservation. The Looking Glass Road gets its name from historic Nez Perce leader, "Looking Glass," born in western Montana around 1830.

This winding, narrow, steep road starts at the aspen prairie edge near East Glacier and climbs though timber to the sub-alpine and back down - all within 10 miles.

But as fun as the road is to drive, it’s best known for its grand mountain views, unique geology, and access to viewing the park's abundant wildlife.”

It’s an incredible drive, but a little freaky with its twists and turns and sharp drop-offs. We took our time and really enjoyed it.
This informative display is just south of St Mary
Some of the best views of Glacier National Park are along Looking Glass Road, Hwy 49
The first hike…
After the steep decent on the south side, we turned right and were immediately in the Two Medicine area. The shimmering Lower Two Medicine Lake was laid out before us and back-dropped by Red, Rising Wolf, Sinopah Mountains, Appistoki Peak and Mount Henry.

We took a left and parked at the Mount Henry trailhead. One of the reasons we wanted to do this trail is because it part of the Continental Divide Trail.

The trail started out in the forest on a soft trail covered with pine needles. About ¾ of a mile up the trail, it emerged from the woods out into a meadow with wildflowers all around. At the same time the trail started to climb and became rocky.

We continued up another two and a half miles, climbing another 2,000 feet. We switch-backed from time to time reversing our view from the north and Two Medicine Lake and its mountains to staring straight up Appistoki Creek Valley and up at Mount Henry.

At one of the switch-backs, we looked up the slope and spotted a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep over a hundred feet above us. I aimed my camera and tried to capture a few pics. Was the ewe coming towards us? Then we realized there were three ewes and two lambs and they were in deed, coming right at us! Arleen and I started waving our arms to alert them. Still they came!

We backed up the trail to a spot with more space and got out our pepper spray. The group stopped level with us and only about 20 feet away! Those nimble critters had a significant advantage in that rocky environment. If they made contact with us, we were likely to tumble down the hill.

We stayed close to each other and backed a few more feet up the hill, calmly talking to them the whole time. And we really didn’t want to use the spray with those cute lambs by her side. After a standoff that only lasted a minute or so, the flock turned and slowly walked away. Phew and WEIRD!

We continued up the trail wondering what had provoked her behavior. Was she used to getting fed by naïve hikers? Was it a defensive posture because of the lambs?

As we climbed, the views got better and we stopped often to take pictures. On one break we were treated to a marmot sunning himself. The winds were nearly unbearable but the marmot seemed to enjoy it.

By the time we got to the top of the ridge, we were buffeted by 40-50mph winds. We didn’t stick around but scurried down to the protection of a stumpy limber pine forest to take cover.
The views on this hike were spectacular and it ranks as one of our all-time favorites.
Hike route to Scenic Point in the Two Medicine area
These bighorn sheep ran right at us! They stopped about 20 feet away. It was freaky!
Climbing high above Two Medicine Lake
Admiring the incredible view
We thought the old ghost trees were really cool
Near our turn-around point about 2,000 feet above the lake.  It was VERY windy.
Posed for a quick pic and then headed back down
This zoomed in pic shows the main Two Medicine Lake and the Upper Two Medicine Lake
The second hike…
After we got back to the truck, we headed to the historic General Store, re-filled our water, bought a few much appreciated treats, and took a short hike to Paradise Point.

“Two Medicine Store was originally built in 1914 by the Glacier Park Hotel Company, a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway, as part of the railway's extensive program of visitor services development at Glacier.” Now it’s a nice little gift shop and café with comfortable places to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Hike route to Paradise Point on Two Medicine Lake
Interesting pic from 1915 showing the building below
The historic building is now a campstore and small café
Two Medicine Lake and the jagged peaks
On 19 June we hiked the Beaver Pond Loop…
We had noticed that all the trees in the St Mary area lean to the east. And we found out why on Wednesday when 40 to 50 mph winds came screaming out of the mountains and assaulted us.

We took cover on the Beaver Pond Loop near Saint Mary Lake. The woods surrounding the pond acted as a wind break. The loop was over 3 miles long and we enjoyed seeing and photographing all the wildflowers. Plus we got to see a young bull moose by the pond.

Later that evening, we went on a drive looking for wildlife and saw another bull moose crossing the road and disappear into the woods.
Hike route on the Beaver Pond Loop in the St Mary area
We started at the Visitor Center and it was VERY windy
A meadow full of flowers
Cool tree with critter holes
This young bull moose was leery of us so we gave it plenty of room
St Mary Lake on a very windy day
We spotted another bull moose during a short drive after the hike
A few rainy days…
We had three days of rain, thunderstorms, and wind. We took the time to take care of responsibilities. We drove the 45 minutes to Browning to resupply. We were pleasantly surprised at how well stocked the Blackfeet grocery store was.

Later that evening we had a memorable dinner at the Many Glacier Lodge.

“Construction began at Many Glacier Hotel in 1914. The Great Northern Railway was establishing a series of hotels and backcountry chalets in the park and the Many Glacier Hotel was the "Gem of the West". This was part of an effort by Louis W. Hill to establish Glacier National Park as a destination resort and to promote the area as the "American Alps".” 

“The building has a Swiss alpine theme both on the outside and on the inside. The foundation is made of stone, with a wood superstructure. The outside is finished with brown-painted wood siding, and the window framing and balconies have wood sawn in Swiss jigsawn patterns. On the inside, the four-story lobby is surrounded by balconies, whose railings are patterned after Swiss designs.” 

The following day we met our dear Sequim friends, Tom and Deb, at the Glacier Park Lodge for dinner. They brought our favorite four-legged friends, Bronte and Dora. It always warms our hearts when we have not seen those girls for a few months and they throw themselves at us. We had a nice walk and a delicious dinner with great conversation. I was very touched that Deb brought me a bag of her yummy chocolate chip cookies!

“Glacier Park Lodge is located just outside the boundaries of Glacier National Park in the village of East Glacier Park. The lodge was built in 1913 by the Glacier Park Company, a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway. It was the first of a series of hotels built in and near Glacier.”

“The lodge was sited directly opposite the railroad depot, within walking distance. Work began in April 1912 and was completed in 15 months. Demand was so great that work began immediately on an expansion that almost doubled capacity, completed in 1914.”

“The lodge is built around a three-story lobby measuring 200 feet by 100 feet, lined with Douglas-fir columns 40 feet tall and between 36 and 42 inches in diameter. Each column was brought in by rail from the Pacific Northwest because trees in Montana rarely grow so large. A total of 60 such trees were used, with Douglas-fir in the lobby and cedars for the exterior.”
Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier area
Swiftcurrent Lake

We had a very enjoyable meal at the historic and impressive Many Glacier restaurant
We had a lovely dinner with Tom and Deb and got puppy kisses in East Glacier

On 23 June we hiked to Iceberg Lake…

The trail started in a parking area behind the Swiftcurrent Motor In cabins.  We didn’t start till 11-ish because of heavy morning rain and felt fortunate to find a parking spot.

Unfortunately, showers were still moving through. We donned our rain gear in preparation for a soggy day.

Still, the rain did not take away from the beauty of the surroundings.  First we walked up the Wilbur Creek Valley. Then we hiked along the edge of the ridge that was part of a circular wall crowned by Mount Wilbur and Iceberg Peak. All of this was decorated by multiple wildflowers.

The trail felt crowded. There were groups of two to four people every 50 yards. We were continually pulling off the narrow trail to pass others or to let them pass us. There was even a group of about 40 people out on a Ranger hike.

About a half mile from the lake, we started crossing snowfields.  But the terrain was level and we could see the tracks left by many previous hikers.  Fortunately, it the snow was well packed and we didn’t post-hole at all.

At our first glimpse of the lake it appeared to be solidly frozen.  However, we went around another band of krummholz trees and we could see blue icebergs in the middle of the partially frozen lake and open turquoise colored water… it was beautiful!

We took a higher trail through deep snowfields to the left, leaving the crowds behind, and found a nice break spot where we could enjoy the incredible scene in peace. Sadly it began to rain again and we started to feel chilled. We knew we could not linger so we hesitantly headed back down the trail.

Even though it was the end of June, spring had just begun at Iceberg Lake. It would be a great hike to do in August. That is probably the only month that the lake, in nearly perpetual shadow, experiences summer.
Hike route to Iceberg Lake in the Many Glacier area
Enjoying a spot of sun and the pretty bear grass. Those storm clouds got us shortly after.
Getting closer to our goal. We started in the valley on the left side of the pic.
There was quite a bit of snow the last half mile or so
This was our rest spot.  It was incredibly beautiful, but it was cold, windy, and spitting rain so we didn’t stick around too long.
Iceberg Lake and it’s cirque are incredible!

On 24 June we hiked the Grinnell Glacier trail…
We returned to Many Glacier one last time to do what is considered thee #1 premier hike in Glacier National Park.

We parked at the Lake Josephine overview near the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead.  Again, we got a late start to the day hoping that the majority of the rain showers were over by 2 PM.  As expected the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead parking area was overflowing.

The wide trail starts in the woods next to the lake and was very peaceful.  We met occasional hikers and everyone was in a good mood despite the fact that once again everyone was soggy. We got occasional glimpses of Swiftcurrent Lake and then Lake Josephine, both fjord lakes like the others in this area. An old glacial moraine separates them.

At about the 2 mile point, the trail forked left down to the lake or right up towards Grinnell Glacier. We stayed right and continued to climb along the ridge. From here on the trail was narrower, rockier and steeper.

We had a spectacular view down to Grinnell Lake. The vibrant jade color left us speechless! We paused at each overlook to stare into its depths and try to capture it with the Angel Wing and the Garden Wall standing guard high above.

After about 4 miles we reached the warning sign indicating snowfields beyond. We didn’t expect to reach our goal. We ducked under the wire and went about another hundred yards before we came to a rocky creek crossing.

We could see there had been a snow bridge at one time over the creek but it had collapsed. There were hazardous snow banks with deep undercuts over the roaring, deep nameless creek. This area is part of the Grinnell Formation and there were sizable flat red rocks strewn about… perfect for us to take a break on.

As we sat and snacked we examined the trail ahead of us. We could see where people had crossed the steep snowfields along the garden Wall to the actual glacier overlook. So close!  But it was just too risky for us and we took a break and enjoyed the scenery.

We retraced our steps but at the fork, took a right and dropped down to Lake Josephine. There was a lengthy boardwalk traversing a marsh. In addition to a bunch of people using the boardwalk, it was obvious that bears use it too. Along the lake, the trail stayed mostly in the woods with only a couple of quick views.

By the time we got back to the Many Glacier Hotel it was almost 5:00pm. We were tired, famished, damp, and little chilled. So we stopped and had a delicious dinner at the Swiss Lounge.
Hike route on the Grinnell Glacier trail
High above Lake Josephine
Grinnell Lake is an amazing color
This sign was about 3.5 miles from the trailhead
Too risky for us to go any farther
We hung out near this pretty waterfall until the next rain shower moved in
On the way back we crossed Cataract Creek and walked along the opposite side of Lake Josephine.
A canoe on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake. We stopped at the lounge and had a tasty and warming dinner.
The two sides of Siyeh Pass...

The first hike...
Finally it was a nice day!  We set out to climb to Siyeh Pass. First we would try the longer, steeper approach.

We were at the Sunrift Gorge Trailhead by about 9am and there were just four other cars.  The goal was to make it to snowfields.

First, we gazed at the churning water twisting and turning through the narrow gorge.  Our trail was to the right and we immediately started climbing.

As we climbed we passed through thousands of wildflowers: Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Paint Brush, Bear grass, Arnica, Purple Fringe and so many others.  We met three Park volunteers out trying to identify all the different wildflowers.  Good luck to them!

After a half mile we could see the Sunrift waterfalls tumbling down over huge boulders and splitting the ravine.

Most of the trail through here was across flat red rocks.  We saw some unique waterfalls coming over the top of what appeared to be volcanic black rocks.  

At points we passed through groves of krummholz and we called out to our bear friends.  After a mile and a half we were above the tree line and hiking up some long switchbacks.  The water was running down the trail in a few places so we helped stop the erosion by removing debris from the runout cuts.  We smiled as the small stream was diverted over the hill rather than down the trail.

Finally the trail switched back to the left and climbed to where we had a great view of Sexton Glacier back-dropped by Matahpi Peak and an immense rock wall.  We could see the trail cutting across snowfields up to Siyeh Pass about a half mile in front of us so we stopped at about the two and a half mile point. We don’t have an arresting axe nor do we have training to stop ourselves on snowfields that are on steeply sloped terrain.

Arleen got out the binoculars and scanned low for critters.  I stood and scanned above for sheep and goat friends.  Then I thought I saw a small sheep but the small sheep had a long bushy tail!

I called to Arleen that I spotted a coyote or a wolf.  I tried to focus with my camera as he ran and though it was more than a hundred yards away, I got a few decent pics.  I had never seen a wolf in the wild before.  We’d have to stop at the visitor center and show a Ranger.

On the way down, we saw two couples so altogether there were nine people on the trail that day as compared to hundreds on the last couple of hikes. We really enjoyed the solitude and the views along the trail.
Hike route up the Siyeh Pass trail from Sunrift Gorge
Lots of Bear Grass in the old burn area
The Penstemon and Paintbrush were vibrant
Farther up the trail
Admiring the waterfalls
Not too far from our turnaround spot.  Siyeh Pass is the low spot in the snow far ahead of Arleen.
Purple fringe flowers are one of our favorites
Wolf or Coyote?
We showed these pics to Rangers at the Visitor Center and they confirmed that it was a wolf!

Hike number 2…
After we returned to the truck we drove to Siyeh Bend. The second approach to the pass was here. The trail started next to Siyeh Creek which was very pretty and unique. Rather than running through a pebble bottom, the creek bottom was long slabs of flat rock. The creek appeared to be running down a sluice box.

As we turned and climbed, the trail was mostly in the trees and it never really opened up for a view. We crossed bridges over Siyeh Creek a few times and that was the best scenery. At one of the bridges we saw a couple we had seen on the Sunrift side. They were a couple of marathon runners and had made it up and across the snowfields and the pass. They shared pictures with us.

In addition, we had to cross numerable snowfields that really slowed us down.  We stopped at a bridge by the split between the Siyeh and Piegan Pass trails.  One way went over Piegan Pass to Many Glacier and the other way went over Siyeh Pass to Sunrift. It was already 4:30pm so we decided to turn around. Another day…
Hike route on the Siyeh Pass trail from the Siyeh Bend
Siyeh Creek is very pretty
There were a few bridge crossings
There was quite a bit of snow the second half of the route
This was our turn-around spot. We filtered water and had snacks. We ended up hiking about 10.5 miles with 3,000ft of climbing.
The next day, we went to the visitor center and talked to Ranger Elizabeth. After looking at our canine pictures for a few minutes and checking her desk top reference, she was confident that we saw a wolf! Most wolves tend to stay in the northwest part of the Park, but an occasional lone wolf passes through the St Mary area. She was going to pass the sighting on to the wildlife biologists. She was pretty excited! She has been there 20 years and has never seen a wild wolf herself.

On our first day driving into the Glacier area the month before, the mountains had been obscured in dense smoke. Since then we experienced mostly cloudy, rainy, and windy weather. It had impacted some of our plans but we would rather hike in rain than breath in smoke. We might have gotten soggy and cold, but we saw a truly spectacular part of our country!

We are wrapping up a stay in Pincher Creek AB exploring Waterton Lakes National Park.  Our next stop is Banff AB.  Then we head back to Billings MT to help Arleen’s mom.

Parting shots...
St Mary Lake
Goose Island and St Mary Lake
A momma elk with its new calf near the campground