There are weekend trips, and then there's something a little more involved.
Our recent trip to Montana was one of those "more involved" cases.
On a fairly annual basis, there's a group of fellas, most of whom served in the Peace Corps together in Panama, who get together to have a "Manventure".
The rules are thus:
1. No guides
2. Movements must be self-propelled
In most cases, including this one, the activities on these trips include some form of biking along with hiking. This combination has been achieved in such places such as Greece, Norway, and more close to home in Colorado & Utah. So it was with excitement that the crew decided to engage with another of America's great outdoors venues - Glacier National Park and its surrounding sites in Montana.
Here are some thoughts:
THE DRIVE (OR TRAIN RIDE)
Been a goal for a while to take the train out to Whitefish. With a touch of nervousness that always comes with dealing with trains (am I on the right one? Is this the right car? Please don't throw me off the train...), a seat was found and properly nested with snacks. Away we went around 4:15 PM through Seattle and up the sound to Everett where we took a right to head east into the Cascades. Dinner reservations were made but unfortunately, the food (obviously re-heated pasta with red sauce) didn't quite match the scenery.
The overnight portion of the trip was as expected and didn't prove to be too much trouble. The train pulled into Whitefish right on time at 7:15 AM, and away we went.
On the way home, I opted for the much faster option, hopping on a one-hour flight via Alaska at 6 PM.
We enjoyed three different campsites while biking in and around Glacier.
Our first was in the Fish Creek campground (site D) on the western shore of Lake McDonald. For being a very populous site, there was enough privacy in each plot to make things not feel too busy. Big positives were nice bathrooms and a freshwater pump making water refills and cooking cleanup much easier.
Second night we were up at Bowman Lake, 6 miles ride from Polebridge. We experienced similar, incredible views of the mountains in Glacier Park, and another nice camp site. Water and bathrooms were once again available among many a RV.
Our third day of riding took us up to and (slowly) around Red Meadow Lake and then down to Upper Whitefish Campground. This site is easily in my all-time top #5 as we experienced our own little beach entrance into a refreshing lake (pictured above). No freshwater spout but after filling our jugs in anticipation of such a scenario we were not caught out.
Overall, no complaints about any of our sites and if anything, kudos to Montana's rangers and staff for providing such opportunities for enjoyment.
You want to see a bear, but you don't want to see a bear.
We didn't see a bear.
We did see some large marmots as well as plenty of friendly deer. The "nature bonding" moment happened over and over again on our second day of riding when friendly butterflies would bounce beside us for extended periods of time like playful dolphins. Very pleasant.
Overall, the Whitefish and Glacier National Park region of Montana is not to be missed. Being someone who regularly gets to see Rainier, being inside Glacier and around its mountains was like seeing six Rainiers at once with their breadth and scale.