We woke up to sounds of heavy machinery doing maintenance work on a neighboring campsite. That’s one way of shaking a couple of night owls out of bed, especially after an unfavorable time change. We had made some coffee last night, so all we had to do was to heat that up and drink it while we packed up the rest of our camp, and we were on our way.
Today we plan to hike in to a backcountry campsite in Glacier National Park. The first obstacle in our path is the town of Kalispel, where we got sucked into a Chinese buffet for lunch. Once we got moving again, the town went on and on. The entire population seemed to be concentrated within three blocks of the highway, so it seemed to take as long to get from one end of Kalispel to the other as it took to get from Kalispel to Glacier.
By the time we got to the backcountry office at the park, it was 3 pm. Allowing time for getting to the trailheads and the hiking distance from there to the campsites, there were very few campsites that we could realistically get to before dark. We sat through another “bear drill”, got our permits, and headed out.
Lake MacDonald is the glacial lake nearest to the west entrance. The park’s main through-fare, The Road to the Sun, runs along one side of the lake, and a hiking trail runs along the other. Our campsite was on that trail, four miles from the backcountry office, or two miles from the trailhead at the far end of the lake.
We didn’t know it then, but the easiest way to the campsite would have been to hike the four miles from where we were. We weren’t told that the last two miles of the 13-mile drive to the other trailhead had holes so big we had to drive through them rather than around them. On the other hand, bad roads keep the mutants out.
Visually, our campsite on the lake was idyllic. The lake water was refreshingly cold and indescribably clear, and the variety of rocks on the bottom displayed a rich rainbow of colors and an endless collage of patterns. Towering trees gave us shade, and rugged peaks reflected off the water.
The audio environment was not so idyllic. Motorboats whizzed up and down the lake pulling water skiers or showing themselves off. We could hear the guides on passing tour boats giving their presentations over loudspeakers. It’s amazing how far that kind of sound can carry.
The highway through the park was a mile across the lake. The traffic noise was not exactly loud, but it was constant. Of course this site did not do justice to this park. The next time we come here we must camp on one of the more remote lakes.