Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Camping in Glacier National Park

Keep in mind I do NOT camp.

The scenery was simply spectacular. It only takes 4-5 hours to reach Glacier from Coeur d’Alene, depending on whether you take the scenic route or not. Actually, Freeway 90 going east is beautiful itself, but we went north, then took Highway 2 out of Sandpoint.

We were gone two nights. First night—spent at the Lake McDonald Lodge, on the west end of the park. Second night—Many Glacier Hotel on the east end. So why did I mention camping in the header? Let’s take the Lake McDonald Lodge…

1. The beds were old, hard and most uncomfortable (gimme my Select Comfort!)
2. A little bottle of detergent shampoo was provided, but no conditioner.
3. A sink the size of a postage stamp. I’m not kidding. You wash your face, your feet get wet.
4. A shower not much bigger than the sink.
5. No cell phone service.
6. No Internet service.
7. No hair dryer.

Yes, the setting is gorgeous. Beautiful lake, mountains, trees. And yes, I know it’s a historical place. Built around 1930.

I think the mattresses were bought that year, too.

Did I mention no hair dryer?

Traversing the park (the part that’s road traversable anyway) is the Road to the Sun, stretching 50 miles. We did the west-to-east trek on Monday, headed away from Lake McDonald Lodge (and sore backs) and toward the Many Glacier Hotel. You have to leave the park, drive north a little ways and head back into the park to reach Many Glacier. What a beautiful setting! Lovely lake. We took a walk around it through the woods on a beautiful path—2.6 miles. Oh, and in the morning, near Lake McDonald (as we got the kinks out of our backs) we ran the Avalanche Lake trail. It was just four miles round trip, but climbed quite a bit. At the top is a pretty little lake with waterfalls in the distance.

At any rate, back to the camping part. Actually, Many Glacier Hotel was better. Well, the beds were as bad. No conditioner, no hair dryer, no cell phone service, no Internet. However, the sink and shower were both bigger.

(Guess what--I discovered I could ask for a hair dryer at the front desk at both hotels--and they gave me one to use! Hot diggedy. Man, that was a close call.)

Coming back on Tuesday, we took the Road to the Sun doing the east-to-west trek. This way was a little easier on the ol’ ticker. I don’t like heights, see. And part of that road you’re hanging off a cliff. Going west to east, you’re on the cliff side far more of the time. I oohed and aahed at the glacier mountains and all the scenery while hugging the car console. Could actually sit up straight on the east-to-west trek.

The scenery brought to mind the beginning of Psalm 19 many a time:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God,
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
Night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are their words,
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out to all the world,
And their utterance to the ends of the earth.

Yup. Who needs words when all creation shouts God’s glory?

I loved the scenery. Loved the hiking and jogging through forest. The lakes, trees, mountains, wildlife. We got some dynamite pictures. Yes, we had a splendid time.

I just don’t do camping very well.


Kristy Dykes said...

Reminds me of the old song, "Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul."

Thanks for a beautiful word picture this morning.

C.J. Darlington said...

Okay, so I guess this is where we differ, Brandilyn. :-) I love camping. The more primitive the better.

I was camping up in NY at a place where the only way to reach your campsites was by boat. So my dad, sister and I (and our dog) rented a rowboat and headed off! We got to our site and the first thing we saw was bear scat. A big old pile of it right in the campsite. And they had a bear locker (no, not where you lock up the bear). We were supposed to lock up all our food in there.

This marked the first time we'd been camping in bear territory, so we were a bit ignorant. But as they say, ignorance is bliss. We had a great time.

Last fall I went camping in Maryland at a place where we were the only campers for what seemed miles (there were in fact others down the road), but the thing that struck me was how dark it got. I mean can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. I had fun imagining my characters in dire circumstances that time ...

But it was really incredible to be in nature like that and hear all the night sounds. We huddled over the fire and had a blast there, too.

Alright, enough of my camping stories. Your eyes have probably rolled back into your head by now.

Domino said...

I love camping too, CJ.

I haven't been to Glacier National Park since the 70s. Too young to drive, I plastered my face against the window of the car as my dad drove us through the park. Gorgeous! The whole experience absolutely filled me with joy. We spent the nights in our little pop-up camper in an area near where a girl had been attacked by a bear the week before. Although we felt bad for the girl, we didn't care about seeing a bear. We were having too much fun. Actually, seeing a bear was welcomed, but being mauled by one was not in the plan.

Thanks, Brandilyn, for the surge of good memories. And yes, God makes his presence known in the quiet of nature.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you even WENT. You're a better woman than I am, B. I was invited on a 7-day kayaking trip this summer. I love to kayak. But the obvious question is... where would we stay? In tents, of course. Turned it down, obviously. I need a hair dryer, air conditioning, hot water and white fluffy towels. Basic life necessities. Don't know how the Israelites managed it for 40 years....

Anonymous said...

Amen, BC! We have the gorgeous trip to Mt. Rainier in Washington. When my son (22) drove the van for our church's small group up the mountain, I said to him, "Don't scare your mother." I can't even look over the sides. Your words from the Psalm were far more noble than the scripture that kept running through my mind: Fear not.
Anyway, camping is not my forte either. Appreciate those who do, but give me the wonders of indoor plumbing, heat in the winter, cool in the summer, shampoo AND conditioner. Yup. Thank you, Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes; camping. Hammock gently swinging under beautiful fir and pine, a soft breeze cooling the heat with an IV hooked up to a tree.(grin)

Later a sunset hand painted by God Himself with brilliant reds, orange, yellows and gold against a ceruleum sky, a bold mountain and a darkening Lake saying good night.

With Evenfall several deer cauteously make their way out of the wood, treking their way across a meadow filled with cricket music to drink the coolness of the lake.

Night brings a crackling campfire, harmonica sounds softly weaving between the boughs of trees, potatoes double foiled baking away in red coals and the smell of juicy grilled chicken wafting through the campground.

A couple of friends gazing into the red and yellow seething fire, twisting and spiraling it's flames toward the darkening sky.

An owl asking "who who" and furry critters discussing wether they should answer or not.

Stars twinkling against a most beautiful blackness and meteors makeing themselves known as they break through an obsidian atmosphere.

Sigh..can't spell, off I go.

Unknown said...

I recommend a travel trailer. 33' feet or better oughta do it. A friend of ours says "That's not camping!" I smile and say "I know." Been there, done that. Back can't take it no more. I'll take my hotel room on wheels any day. You realize that, during the Great Tribulation, there will probably be no hair dryers. No, you cannot take a "pass."

Lynette Eason said...

Ugh, camping. You need say no more. That's really funny about the hair dryer thing. My husband bugs me about going and I tell him if I can't plug in my hair dryer, forget it!



Cheryl said...

Glacier is awesome. (pssst, btw it's Going to the Sun Road). GTTS road is an experience unto itself for sure. The road hugs the mountainside and was built in the late 1920s-early 30s so it doesn't easily accomodate anything much larger than a Model T. Makes for an interesting experience while going around all those curves. =:0

(pssst-a great place to stay is spent a week there several years ago and didn't get to see/hike everything. (did see all sorts of wildlife, including sharing a narrow trail with a mama mountain goat and her babies-they have the right of way.)So we'll go back.

Stay away from the cabins at the North Ridge of the Grand Canyon if you thought your lodgings were a bit on the primative side....yeesh.

National Parks groupie ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sis,

You may remember that I spent the summer of 1969 at Glacier National park, specifically at Lake McDonald Lodge. I was working with a Christian Ministry in the National Parks, teaching Sunday school to campers' kids but my day job was as one of the front desk workers, checking in the huge tour groups that came through, making up their coupon books, etc. etc. Don't you just love that monstrous fireplace in the lobby? What a wonderful summer. We hiked every Wednesday, thumbing our way up to the pass and striking out on trails from there. If you think LMD is primitive, you should have stayed at one of the chalets. They don't even have electricity! Anyway, it was a wonderful summer. God surely loved mountains, 'cause he made so many of them -- and made 'em beautiful too!



Lori Benton said...

From one who has camped, in a tent, on the shore of Lake McDonald... man, wish I was there!

I'll just sit here at my computer in baking hot Medford, Oregon and gaze at the photo on my wall, taken during that trip, of the sun rising above the clouds and casting spangles on the lake.... sigh.