Glacier National Park - Montana

July 23 - July 28, 2000

BackroadsContinuing in my series of cycling adventures, this one takes us to northern Montana and a little bit of Alberta, Canada. The following is a chronological photo essay of my Montana Biking - Glacier National Park - Inn trip offered by Backroads. All photos, except where otherwise indicated, are by Robert Buffington.

Day 1: Alberta Visitor Center to Lake McDonald Lodge (11 miles)

Day 2: Lake McDonald Lodge to Many Glacier Hotel (60 miles)

Day 3: Many Glacier Hotel to Prince of Wales Hotel [Waterton] (50 miles)

Day 4: Rest day (perhaps because of tomorrow, which is...)

Day 5: Prince of Wales Hotel to Glacier Park Lodge [East Glacier] (77 miles)

Day 6: Glacier Park Lodge to West Glacier (56 miles)

Day 0

A walk to Downtown Whitefish.

The ski slopes as viewed from Whitefish, Montana.

A few ducks and swans in the park just outside of downtown Whitefish.
And finally, this is downtown Whitefish. The shops in the distance include gift shops and pubs. Way in the distance is the Blackstar microbrewery. Oh, and don't forget to get some huckleberry fudge at the Montana Flathead Fudge and Chocolate Company!
The sign says: "Please Do Not Touch the Moose-terpiece."
I stayed at the beautiful Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge before and after my cycling trip.

Day 1

Finally, we are on our way. This is a brief stop at Apgar Village before we are allowed to embark on the Going-to-the-Sun road which restricts bikes between the hours of 11am and 4pm. It's now about 3:30.

Day 2

View from the Going-to-the-Sun road.

There is a mountain ahead disguised as a wall. You can see the road along the mountain (although not too clearly here) as it inclines upward to the right. Yes, we rode up that hill.

Holy ...! Rocks hitting cars for the next two miles. We should be safe since we're on bikes.
More scenery.
Some more scenery.
Even some more scenery.
A little ground squirrel in its natural habitat. Most of the others on this trip were seen freeloading around coffee shops and visitor centers.

We're past "the loop" but it just keeps going up and up and up. To make matters worse, I stopped frequently to take pictures like this. So much for keeping up a good pace.

Sadly, there should be a photo of me standing in front of the Logan Pass sign which indicates the elevation of 6680 feet, but my volunteer camera operator didn't press the shutter button down all the way.

The llama. Not used any more for hauling provisions since the invention of the car, so they just have one on display at the visitor center at Logan Pass. When Tom was here earlier, he said that this llama was quite calm, but since he was here, a lot of kids were petting it and running around it so it got a little nervous. It took me nearly 10 minutes to get this one photo of his head.
The path to Hidden Lake Overlook. This is a 1.5-mile trail that climbs 800 feet in elevation. I think the bike climb to 6680 feet was enough of a workout today. Try this hike wearing cycling shoes - I dare you.
The flower fields are definitely in bloom. There is a lonely bear grass blossom in the lower right.

Bear grass.

This grass shoots up a flowering ball only once every seven years. Next time you'll be able to see this in person will be in 2007.

Jackson Glacier.
Wild Goose Island. I'm pretty sure it's that little thing in the middle of the river.
However, please feed people on bikes.
[unknown flower]
Every once in a while, it's a good idea to look up while biking so you can see a view like this.

Day 3

View from behind Many Glacier Hotel.

Many Glacier Hotel.
Jammer bus in front of Many Glacier Hotel.
This is a view from behind as I am riding out of Many Glacier Hotel. I forgot to take a picture of the bridge that was featured in Forrest Gump, so I stopped to take a picture of this bridge. It's close enough, isn't it?
I looked to the right and stopped to take in this view.
There are cows inside and outside of the fence. Why even bother putting up fences?
Chief Mountain
Alexa, just after making sure we had enough popsicles.

Finally, I was able to get a group photo! At least a partial one, anyway. Here we have Kathy, Neal, Tim, Lauren, Pam, Mike, Ruth, Gary, and finally Bob (with the poor posture).

The photo was taken by Apollo.

Welcome to Alberta Canada, the Wild Rose Country. Beauty, eh?

[unknown flower]

I only had seconds to stop to take this picture before the flies caught up with me.

Along this stretch of highway, the guard rails are painted green, and in the hot temperatures, they make an eerie creaking sound as they expand. This is certainly something you can't experience by car and it's something I can't show you here.

Scenic overlook at Waterton Lakes National Park.

"Where the mountains meet the prairies." This was a nice climb up to this viewpoint. Now it's all downhill to the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Photo taken by Alexa.

Riding towards the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Day 4 - Rest Day

Hike to Kootenai Lake

This may look like a real moose, but it's only half a moose. It's left antler seems to be missing. Maybe this is one of those half-male/half-female moose we've been hearing about.

He's actually getting pretty close to us. We were beginning to wonder if he was just coming over to stomp us.
Nope - he was just hungry. Mmmm...grass.
Sexy pose. Very nice!

Upper Waterton Lake

This is coming back from our hike to Kootenai Lake which is in the U.S. We're now back into Canada and no ID is required!

Day 5

Climbing back up the hill out of Waterton Lakes National Park and heading back to the US Border. There were some interesting fluffy clouds in the sky all day today.

Mike and Pam. If you ever needed a break, these guys would let you draft behind them, but only until the downhills. They had a tendency to fly down the hills.
Gary, Ruth, Patty and Anna.

Here's David. His comment that I'll never forget was "Don't waste a picture on me!".

Here's Joan. Barbie is right behind her.
More of those cloud formations. They stuck around all day.
What do you call a group of horses? Flock, gaggle, peck, school? Here they are in any case.
Inside a jammer bus.
More jammer buses parked outside of the Glacier Park Lodge.
Inside Glacier Park Lodge, known for it's columns made from uncut Douglas fir.
Those same fluffy clouds at sunset. David has a better shot of this when the sun was a little brighter. Even after drinking four margaritas and having to run up to the hotel room to grab the camera, I was still able to run back downstairs and take this shot without tripping and breaking the camera. Not bad.

Day 6

Glacier Park Lodge.

The big group photo.

Robert (me), Gary, Joan, Ruth, Mike, Tim, Pam, Lauren, David, (up to) Anna, Patty, (back down to) Alexa, Kathy, Neal, Barbie and Tom.

The only photo of me with the Backroads Cannondale bike. My camera took up a good portion of the space in that red handlebar bag.

Photo taken by Pam.

Long train runnin'. This is looking down Goat Lick. Of course word got out that I was going to be there, so all the goats packed up and left.
Our last stretch of road takes us along Flathead River. This is looking back on some rapids.
Our last little picnic together. Here we have Patty, Anna, Ruth, Lauren (peek-a-boo!), Neal, Gary.
Our fearless leaders: Barbie and Alexa.
Tim and Tom - a little snack before the last 25 miles of the trip.
Remember always to check your brakes before going on a bike ride. It's a good idea to check for bugs, too.
This is what much of the state of Montana will look like soon because of the dry conditions this year.
"Hey down there! Don't get too relaxed. There are rapids ahead!" I hope they heard me.
It was getting upwards to 90 degrees biking along this stretch of road. I saw this from above and wished I was down there with them. That is until I looked the other direction and saw nothing but white water.

...and last, but certainly not least, here's Kathy followed by the day's sweeper, Barbie.

Thanks to all of you for helping to make this a great trip!

Finally, one last look at the Glacier Park International Airport before going back home.

Alexa & Barbie - you were great. Thanks for the great trip.

For Henry.

Henry Mayer
photo by Norbert Brein-Kozakewycz

This phlog is dedicated to the Mayer family in memory of Henry Mayer who was on our trip with his wife Betsy. On the Going-to-the-Sun Road as we climbed towards Logan Pass at 6680 feet, Henry suffered a heart attack.

Many of us were ahead of Henry as we wanted to get the big climb behind us, but news was trickling in from drivers who were passing us that there was a cyclist behind us who had a heart attack. This explained the numerous sirens you could hear in the distance. I just assumed that it was a cyclist from another group since there were numerous other groups and independent cyclists on our route. As more news trickled in, I heard that a Backroads vehicle was involved at the scene. Again, I just assumed that our leaders were just there to assist another cyclist, but the sad truth was revealed when one of our leaders, Alexa, stopped to inform me that it was Henry who had the heart attack and that he died immediately at the scene.

I was sitting next to him at the breakfast table that morning. He was joking how he would listen in on the phone conversations with Betsy (an M.D. at Kaiser in Oakland) and her patients and try to figure out what the patient's afflictions were. At times, he said he would answer the phone and offer his advice when Betsy wasn't around. Ironically, he indicated concern about the amount of cholesteral offered at the breakfast buffets at the lodges we were staying at. Of course, we just laughed it off and said it won't make much of a difference the next few days while we are riding 60 miles a day. After that, we loaded up our bikes and headed out. I never saw him again after that morning.

The newspaper article is from The Daily Inter Lake from Kalispell, Montana, vol. 93, no. 105, dated Friday, July 28, 2000. The photo was taken from the Library of Congress web page