My three adult sons and I recently stayed five days near Glacier National Park. I rented a log home ten miles away from the Park entrance (it was a family home for thirty years; all of us had separate beds and bedrooms, plus multiple bathrooms; by far, the best way for a family vacation). Our main objective was to see the Park for the first time, but included hiking several trails, doing a number of landscape photo shoots, cooking meals, and eating out. We had a great time.
The mountains in Glacier are not like those in Colorado. I’m used to massive, broad-based mountains with peaks that are commonly climbed. The majority of the fourteeners (peaks higher than 14,000 feet in elevation) in Colorado have well-trod trails that are described in a number of guidebooks. There are typically different trailheads. Climbing most peaks involves miles of hiking through backcountry until you come to the above-treeline trails for the last one to two thousand feet of ascent. If close to other fourteeners, it’s typical to find trails in-between.
Glacier geology includes mostly sedimentary rock (versus granite in Colorado), and the mountain structures are left from glaciers grinding off layers of rock, giving the peaks a beautiful striated appearance. It also makes the mountains steep (sometimes shear) and relatively isolated; I didn’t see any peaks I would have the courage to climb. People have climbed them, but the Park Service firmly recommends that they should be attempted only by experienced mountaineers with appropriate equipment. The climbing season is also comparatively short—the main road through the park is typically closed in October or November because of snow (the main pass is only about 30 miles south of the Canadian border) until sometimes May or June. Climbing mountains in Glacier isn’t a major attraction.
The tallest peak in the Park is at about 10,400 feet. The most viewed peaks are in the 7,000 to 9,000 foot range. The highest trails average in the 6,000+ range, which meant that I was always lower than where I live, which made breathing no problem. There are many hiking trails (734 miles worth), and many are spectacular, but the Park’s calling cards are the vast panoramas and scenic overlooks, the abundance of remote lakes and streams (762 lakes, 563 streams, which makes drowning the biggest cause of death in the Park), the glaciers (yep, you’d better go soon; they’re retreating), and the wildlife (we saw a grizzly bear up-close and a mountain goat far-away).
There are things to be tolerated in the Park, the biggest being the traffic. There are more than two million visitors every season, with only one major, two-lane road that crosses from the west side of the Park to the east. The result is that parking lots and road pull-outs are mostly full after 8:00 in the morning. Last year, they implemented a limited-entry requirement to enter the Park, which turned away many visitors. My sons and I did a sunrise photo shoot one morning, and two hikes from the Logan Pass parking lot, which is the most popular location in the Park. Both times, we left the house by 5:45 am to make it to the parking lot before 7:00, by which it was already half-full, and we did not leave until after lunch. Many cars stay parked all day (hikers), which makes the parking lot problematic for visitors who just wanted to stop and take pictures.
The most pleasing part was having an adventure with my children. It was worth every penny.
On the book front, I was notified on Friday that The King of Trash is a finalist in Fiction Adventure/Drama category of the 2021 New Mexico/Arizona Book Contest, and that Teddy’s War is a finalist in the Historical Fiction category. They’ll announce the top three books in every category in a couple of weeks.
Also, in spite of promising to leave my aborted manuscript in the proverbial drawer for a number of months, I took it out after a couple of days because of my having new ideas for its resurrection. The major drastic change involves rewriting the story from a third-person omnipotent viewpoint to a first-person narrator viewpoint. It’s making a considerable difference and I like it better. I’ll finish it before Thanksgiving and then see how it reads.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.