Going to the Sun Road to Apgar, GNP

Miles Driven Today:  74             Miles Driven Total 2090

Difficult to express in words what  a beautiful day, today, has been.  I woke up quite early and watched the light dawn over Swiftcurrent Lake in front of the lodge.  There was no wind at all and the lake was glassy which made the reflections of the mountains extra sharp.  Ravishing.

We had breakfast in our room and then packed up.  The poor bellhop helped us down with all our stuff again.  Made the heavier by the fresh load of ice in the cooler.  We set off about 830am.

Our route today was to take the famous Going to the Sun Road right across the middle of Glacier NP to our overnight lodging at the Inn at Apgar.  website

It’s another one of these stunning 1930s roads, built against all the odds, a marvel of ambition and civil engineering.  It runs for 50 miles and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, a good 6600 feet above sea level.  The road is a narrow two lane highway with sheer drops along nearly the entire route.  The views are just incredible.  So many mountainous peaks… lakes…. glaciers…. waterfalls, some that come down and over the road…. tunnels….arches….. extreme switchbacks.   There are many pulloffs along the way and several visitor centres.  The pulloffs and centres not only service viewing but also the many trailheads that dot the route.

Anyway, we were on our way from the Many Glacier hotel to St Mary where we would begin the route when Bob shouted “what’s that?” and slowed right down thinking a big black dog was about to dart across the road.  We slowed right up.  I said “that’s not a dog…. that’s a bear!”  A black bear.  Not very old we think.  I was so surprised, I fumbled with the camera and the bear ran back into the woods.   So, no picture unfortunately, but we saw it very clearly, and it had a very nice face and bright eyes.  Definitely a black bear and not a grizzly.  A BLACK BEAR!!!!   About 5 feet away!   What an exciting start to the day!!!  We were pretty thrilled.

The road totally lived up to all expectations.  It really is spectacular.  We were driving east to west which is the side away from the edge.  In all honesty, no European driver would blink an eye at the road from a technical point of view.  It’s not at all scary to anyone used to European roads.  But it is spectacular.  No other word will do.

We stopped at nearly every viewpoint and looked out, just marvelling at the scenery and the sheer huge WILDNESS of it all.  There is literally no development as far as you can see in any direction.  The road is cutting through land that hasn’t changed in a thousand years or more.

We stopped at Logan Pass up on the Continental Divide to have a bit of a walk, not a proper hike.  Got into an altercation in the carpark.  It was super busy (Labor Day Weekend) and spaces were in competition.  We came up our lane and a man and his wife were just getting into their car.  I asked if they were leaving and they signalled yes and we could get in their space.  So, I got out and as they pulled out, I stood in their space while Bob reversed in.  Just as he started another car came from the row “behind” the spot and tried to pull in.  We had a discussion about who was first (we clearly were) and the woman passenger started shouting at me and saying we were coming in from the wrong side??????  I just turned my back and Bob continued coming in.  I could hear her shouting abuse at me and saying “I know you can hear what I’m saying”.  Luckily, I couldn’t.  Blimey…. lots of angry people in car parks, eh….

We banished these idiots from our minds and headed up over one of the tracks for about 1/2 mile just to stretch out legs.  We saw a marmot!  And some bighorn sheep.  The alpine meadows were just a sea of wildflowers of many colours.  Lovely.

On we went.  We stopped beside a babbling creek for our picnic lunch.  Walked down to the bridge over the river.  The water was so clear and so blue.  We plan to come back and walk the trail around that part tomorrow.

I can’t tell you how fantastic the drive is.  I wish we had time to do it all again but we don’t really.  However, if you get the chance to come to Glacier NP, then definitely do it.

Got to our hotel which is another NP property, The Village Inn at Apgar  Website

at about 145.  So pleased our room was ready.  The Inn is a 2 storey wooden resort built in the mid 1950s and still retaining that old fashioned flavour through renovations.  It’s absolutely idyllic, built right on the edge of Lake Macdonald.  We open our door and the water is 20 feet away.  There are two Adirondack chairs and a table outside our room with just that sublime view up the lake.  Very pleased with the accommodation.   We have an ordinary room, no kitchen.  It is literally half the price we paid at Many Glacier and the room is about the same size.  OK, I’m being a bit unfair because this is a simple accommodation unit, no restaurants, but still.

Lake Macdonald is the biggest lake we’ve been on so far.  10 miles long and about a mile across.  We are right at the far westerly shore of it.  The water is incredibly blue.  My photos look like I have a filter on, but not so.

Apgar is a tiny village, a hamlet, with again that 1950s feel.  Apart from our Inn, there is a cottage resort, an old fashioned diner and that’s about it.  When we arrived there were lots of families out on the lake in canoes, paddleboards, floats and kayaks.  I went for a paddle as a trial and actually the water was pretty warm.  Well…. swimmable in for me anyway.  Tomorrow I shall put it to the test.  The weather is set to hold at about 80F so, nice…   We have also investigated hiring a double kayak tomorrow.  It’s $18 an hour, so we think we will go off and do a hike and then come back and have lunch and take to the water!!!

We sat on our chairs this afternoon and had some sparkling wine from Oregon.  It was pretty nice.  We thought about a friend of ours, Mark, and his lovely wife Louise, who has just died and whose memorial service was today.  We raised our glasses in salute at a wonderful woman who lived her life to the full.  She and Mark were here 9 years ago, just one of the many wonderful trips they made together.

Tonight we ate at Eddie’s, the only little diner around. It was pretty good.  Bob had fish and chips.  I had burger and onion rings.  And then we were really naughty and had a takeaway cup of ice cream each which we took back to the hotel and ate outside our room with coffees watching the sun set on the mountains.

I have loads more pictures from today but the wifi tonight is grindingly slow and I can’t load them.  Will try again in the morning so check back if you are interested.