On Wednesday we took our time moving from Fish Creek to the St. Mary’s campground on the East side of Glacier. It was Deb’s idea to split our vacation week between two different campgrounds in Glacier, and it was a good one. Not only did we get to experience both sides of the park, but the two campgrounds had a totally different look and vibe. St. Mary’s is very open, good for solar, and has an absolutely breathtaking view of the mountains from almost every site.
Plus, bears. Yes, the campground is full of “service berry” bushes and the bears just love to munch on them. We got a very serious talk on bear safety when we arrived, and throughout our stay there were numerous bear sightings by rangers and fellow campers, throughout the campground. In fact, our original sites that we reserved were in a loop that they closed due to excessive bear activity! We didn’t see the bears initially as they come into the campground at dusk and dawn, but you could hear horns from parts of the campground whenever they were seen. The rangers use negative conditioning; loud noises and if necessary shooting them with a bean bag gun, which doesn’t hurt so much as irritate them, but the bears couldn’t resist the berries and just kept coming back. I have to be honest, I was incredibly unsettled. It’s one thing to be on a hike or wilderness and be “Bear Aware” but to have to worry about it when you step outside your rig is a different story. Our site, Loop C #107 was on bear path central and we saw pretty big piles of bear poop everywhere.
Wednesday, we got settled into the area and went to the local grocery store. It was a small one and the prices were absolutely crazy but they did have some outstanding Huckleberry ice cream which sort of made up for it. Steve and I are obsessed with Huckleberries and tried everything we could find that had Huckleberries in it. It turns out because of the fires the crop had been small this year and the prices were $75 a quart so everything huckleberry had a high price (ie: $45 for a whole pie) , but we didn’t care. We were huckleberry crazy. Plus Steve shares my love of a good gift shop and there are many of them on the Eastern Glacier side, so we munched and shopped our way through East Glacier. In our defense, we kind of had to because the weather turned. It rained on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and although we would go out and see things during the lighter rain periods we weren’t up for doing any big hikes. The rain actually caused tons of snow up in the mountains and my pictures changed from rocky tops, to snow-capped mountains as the week went on. Poor Deb, who just wanted to go on hikes, had the worst of it, but it was no picnic for Lee and I either. For the first time we had limited battery power, no internet, and very cold rainy temps. We actually talked about moving on at one point, that is what the lifestyle is about after all, but Lee wanted to wait it out, so we stayed. I am glad we did, because despite the crappy weather we managed to squeeze a few things in and they finally lifted the fire ban so the last two nights we got to have a campfire with Steve and Deb. As a side note, Steve and Deb stayed an extra day and on Monday they finally got to do the hike she wanted to Iceberg Lake. It was 5 miles each way through Grizzly country and they had a wonderful time, but you’ll need to read Deb’s blog to get the details on that!
Anyway, I’m jumping ahead.
Thursday was the best day and we decided to get breakfast first. This really great local diner had huckleberry pancakes for $4.95 and the absolute best bacon I have ever had in my life. That’s saying something since I love my bacon, but it was thick and local Montana bacon and so yummy. Our waitress was also very friendly and we talked to her about Many Glacier versus Two Medicine. When she said Two Medicine was the less visited I got interested. When she said there were some great falls there, I was sold.
We headed out straight from breakfast in the hopes of beating the worst of the rain and drove to Two Medicine. Along the way we stopped to take some pictures of the lake and I saw two white crosses down a hill. We walked down a path and saw the crosses with bronze plaques on them stating that members of the Blackfeet tribe had their ashes scattered there. It was a beautiful place and I can see why there families chose it.
I absolutely loved Two Medicine. The drive was great and a short walk down a flat nature trail took us to some of the most unusual falls I have ever seen. Running Eagle Falls was named after a real Native American Woman who was a warrior for the Blackfeet tribe. This is very unusual and because her spirit quest took place on top of the falls they have been named for her. What is unusual about the falls is no water comes from the top. Instead the water comes from underground and out of the falls. We actually met a young man who was there spreading his best friends ashes on the site and he told us he had been up top many times and it is just a rocky field. Really neat experience and I really liked the nature trail itself which had signs showing how the local tribes used various plants and trees for medicinal purpose.
On Friday it rained almost all day and we took the day off. It’s been a lot of running around and I just needed a day to chill. We read a little, watched TV during generator hours, and basically vegged. Unfortunately, Saturday wasn’t much better and our tempers were getting a little frayed. Freezing cold rain has got to be my least favorite weather, I’ll take snow over that any day, and the only thing that salvaged the day was the fact that we finally got to have a fire. We had a tiny break in the rain and started one after dinner which was great, but the night was unfortunately cut short by more rain. We drove over to Many Glacier to check it out and found some really nice falls a short way in. Those pictures turned out fine, but it started to rain harder and despite my umbrella but I was super worried about the camera getting wet. We did stop at the lodge in Many Glacier which has a Swiss Alp theme for some hot drinks and Steve and I enjoyed another really cool gift shop, but the rain cut the day short. The high point of my day was I finally found the perfect Glacier T-Shirt with huckleberries and a snow-covered glacier mountain. As a side note, I have been trying to buy a T-Shirt in every really cool place we have been, with the hopes of eventually making a quilt of my travels. Sue can hopefully teach me how.
Finally on Sunday things started to clear up. The day dawned bright and we decided to go back to Many Glacier. The skies were clear and we got some beautiful shots plus saw some more bears high on the hill. If you go to Glacier and want to see bears from far away, Many Glacier is the place. Just drive along the road until you see people stopping and looking and have them point out the bears. Both times we went we saw more than one. Nothing as cool as our up close encounters earlier in the week but still neat to see.
It was a much better day and we had a great dinner of Alligator stuffed chicken. Yes it’s true, Deb and Steve had bought it in Louisiana and cooked it for us, so yummy, and another campfire. Right after dinner I heard a car horn going off and walked down to the rig to get my camera, just in case. There less than 40 feet from me by our rig was a 400 pound grizzly bear. I stood there with my mouth hanging open and I swear he turned his head and smiled at me! Then he ambled on his way straight into a deep bunch of bushes behind our rig. It was an absolutely amazing moment and even though I didn’t have my camera it will forever be etched in my mind.
We had a great time with Steve and Deb and look forward to seeing them in Arizona this winter, but on that high note I was happy to leave Glacier and move on to our next adventure in Susanville, CA. Lee starts his first work kamping job and we get to sit in one place and be on full hookups for two months. Not going to lie, I need a little down time, and although I did better than I thought I could with no hookups for almost a month I am ready for some nice, long hot showers!! Still, I will absolutely miss the view.
St. Mary’s Campground St. Mary’s, MT 4 out of 5 pine cones
Outstanding views and clear spaces for solar which is important because there are no services at the site. Water spread throughout the campground. but the pressure was so high it broke our water thief device. Good dump station and very attentive staff. The big draw here is the bears. The campground is full of berry bushes and there were several bear sightings in the campground throughout out stay. One of the loops was even closed due to bear activity. The rangers and hosts keep a close eye on everything, but I would not recommend if you have small children.
Skillet Green Beans
- 1-2 pounds of green beans
- 4 TBL butter
- 4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat
- Add thinly sliced garlic cloves and cook stirring frequently for 2 minutes
- Add trimmed green beans and a few pinches of sugar and salt; cook 2 minutes
- Add 1/2 cup water, cover, cook until tender about 6 minutes
- Uncover and boil until the water mostly evaporates about 1-2 minutes
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