Day - 9 Going to the Sun & Hiking in the Snow
Trip Start Jul 22, 2011
27Trip End Aug 15, 2011
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The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed
The road is incredibly twisty and windy, with huge drop offs at times, (eyes shut time for me!) It was tempting to stop the car at every turn out. I don't know how Lyn managed to keep his eyes on the road. We had stopped off at Sunrift Gorge to take photos, which was amazing. The water that cascaded through the gorge was so fast you certainly wouldn’t want to fall in it!
Logan pass is the highest elevation on the road, at 6646 feet, but we were unable to find a parking space there on the drive over. This is where the trail starts for Hidden lake, which is a walk we had wanted to do. We could see people trekking off into the snow on the walk, so decided we would carry on driving, and try it again later when the park might be quieter.
Much of the west-facing side of the Rocky Mountains within the park comprises of the Lewis and Livingston Ranges, and features a vertical rock face known as the Garden Wall. The road is literally carved into this cliff, with very little clearance for on coming traffic
We started descending, and caught sight of the amazing river. We knew we just had to stop, so we pulled over at a lay by, and we all got out. Poor old Tegz had to sit down and watch, as the boys got changed, and into the river. I can’t begin to explain how cold the water is......think icy, and then more icy. This is pure snow and glacier melt; but our boys just had to get in and get wet. It was absoultely beautiful. The water is so clear, and so blue. Words just can’t describe it. This was one of the highlights for me; Lyn loves the mountain views, but I love the river. It was so peaceful and scenic, and I love watching the kids having fun.
We drove on from there to Lake McDonald, at the west side of the Park
We headed back up the road, to try our luck again at Logan Pass. This time we found parking much easier. Poor old Tegz had to again miss out. We wanted to let her foot dry out as much as possible, so she has been restricted today to staying in the car, or short hobbles to the waters edge or to look at the view. Her foot is starting to heal, but there is no way she can put hiking boots on and walk. Luckily she is such an avid reader she didn’t mind too much, provided she had an armful of books,a nd films on the lap top to watch. I know she would have loved to have gone in the river, but am really proud of how well she took it just sitting and watching.
We took it in turns to do the Hidden Lake trail, so that Tegz wouldn’t be left on her own. Io and I went first, armed with our bear spray and my hiking poles. Thank god for my hiking poles! I can honsetly say I cou;dn’t have done it without them. The guide books say the trail is a pleasant uphill mile and ahalf through meadows of wild flowers
Those of you who know me will know I am not excatly active. The words couch and potato may even spring to mind! I was out of breath walking up the slope to the visitor centre! But....I did it! A mile and a half, uphill in compacted and in times slushy deep snow. Ioan, as ever, was the most perefct guide, looking after me every step of the way, and encouraging me. He, of course, was like a mountain goat, without poles, whereas I needed my poles every step I took. There were times where there were big drop off, where every step you took on slippery snow meant you could fall and roll way down a massive snowy slope. It probably wouldn’t have hurt, but I couldn’t face the hike back up, so I really didn’t want to fall!
We made it to the end, where the view was nice.....but unspectacular, as Hidden Lake is still mostly frozen! If you google image it it looks amazing, lol.
Going back was just as hard as getting there....again, thsoe of you who know me on snow and ice (Rhi...memories??) will know me as Bambi, but you just had to go for it, and let your feet slide down hill. Dare I say it was fun?
I make no apologies for putting loads of photos of me on the snow in the blog. It was surreal hiking on snow in 82 degrees. I am also really proud of myself! Feel free to congratulate me, lol.
It took us 2 hours in total, exactly what the guide book said, and that was based on a walk through wild flowers! We met Lyn and Ci at the start, and passed them on the way back to the car. Lyn found it easy with his long legs, but Ci struggled with his little ones.
It was a great experience...it was cool watching people ski, snowboard and body surf the slopes on their chests (honestly!) It was also interesting to watch the huge variety of people doing the trail, from those in all the gear, to those in shorts and trainers carrying babies! We even saw 2 people who had abandoned their slippery trainers and had gone barefoot. Ouch!
We were then leaving Logan Pass at about 8pm, after Lyn and Tegz had had a look through a load of telescopes at the parking lot with an astronomy club. The skies tonight were going to be amazing, with no pollution, cloud or moon, but we couldn’t stay until dark, we had to get back and get things done ready for tomorrow. It was 10.15pm as we were finishing our pasta and getting ready for Lyn and Io’s big day tomorrow....