I’m still catching up on processing photos from the summer, including some from our vacation time in Glacier National Park in August. Glacier was busy, so busy that frankly it lessened my enjoyment of the Park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is certainly a huge attraction in Glacier, and deservedly so, given the spectacular views along its winding path. However, there’s so much traffic on a busy summer day that it’s very difficult to find a place to pull over and park. Most of the roadside stops were full, limiting opportunities to get out and hike. When we reached Logan Pass, a high point in the middle of the route with a visitor’s center and hikes, the entire lot was full, and cars were parked along the side of the road for at least half a mile in either direction from the parking lot. We were admittedly a bit dejected trying to find a place to park, when we decided we were going to ‘reboot’ the day, drive down to the east end of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and take one of the shuttle buses back to the Logan Pass area.
It was a very good decision. The shuttles can be a bit unreliable (as we found when trying to go back down to our car, having to wait for almost an hour for a shuttle), but they freed us from any worries about having to park. At Logan Pass there are a few hiking options, and one we decided to do went up through a beautiful alpine meadow. There’s a boardwalk that goes up for much of the length of the trail, and given the madhouse at the visitor’s center itself, we were expecting a trail that was elbow-to-elbow in tourists. However, one thing we’ve learned in all our visits to National Parks…people are lazy! A short stroll off the beaten path can often give you some solitude. This wasn’t solitude, but it was manageable in terms of jostling with other tourists.
The walk itself was incredibly beautiful. The high alpine meadows were packed with blooming flowers of several different kinds. Combined with the lush greenery and spectacular mountain views, and it was truly one of our favorite hikes on the vacation. The trail was somewhat open-ended, with no “must see” destination that marked the end of the trail, so we just kept walking until we started to get tired.
After quite some time heading up the trail, we looked up the path and in the distance, saw some hikers seemingly moving off the path to make way for…something. At first it was hard to tell because of the distance, but soon the small, distant white blobs on the path became recognizable…Mountain Goats! There was a small group of about 8 Mountain Goats that were headed down the mountain towards the flowered fields, and they were bound and determined to take the path of least resistance…literally! The goats seemingly put their heads down and kept coming down the path, hikers-be-damned. They were still quite a ways up the path from us when the moved into the flowery fields and began to feed.
We continued up the path until we were in very close proximity. They weren’t shy, obviously being quite used to hikers on the path. They were feeding heavily in the gorgeous alpine meadows, and seemed to especially have an affinity for a plant with deep red flowers (that’s about as far as my flower identification skills take me!). The small group included a couple of young goats that were obviously just born that year, as well as a pair of larger adults that appeared to be dominant. The goats peacefully fed while the handful of hikers that were at that height stood or sat on the path, thrilled to see them at such close range.
As with the previous post about the Grizzly Bears of Banff, it was the Mountain Goats of Glacier that were another true highlight of the trip!