Hiking, Kayaking and Swimming around Lake Macdonald, GNP

Miles Travelled Today: 20  Miles Travelled in Total 2110

A very relaxing day today!  Woke up early as usual and came out on the lakeside with my cup of coffee to find a beaver swimming around near the river’s edge.  I went back for my camera but he’d disappeared by the time I came out!  You’ll have to take my word for it.

Had breakfast in the room and then headed up past the east end of Lake Macdonald to hike a trail we spotted yesterday.  2 miles through the woods alongside the cascading river.  Another perfect day weather-wise.  We are being so lucky so far.  It is chilly first thing in the morning though.  About 12C.  Then it gets up to about 28C by midday.  Blue skies, just a few clouds.  Anyway, we started with our lightweight jackets on but by midway through, mine was off.

Such a lovely track through the woods.  We sang as we walked along like loons but there was no one else around and we were making noise to scare off the bears!!!  Believe me the singing would scare off anything!  We did have our bear spray at the ready though.  Actually, the only wildlife we saw was a squirrel and more beavers swimming in the river.

We intended to take another trail after this one, but the parking was full up so we scrapped it and drove a few miles to West Glacier, the gateway village just outside the park at this end.  Miraculously there was phone signal so we called both girls.  Lucy was back from her camping trip in the deserts of Oman and Daisy was in the middle of moving flat which has not gone smoothly due to her moving firm letting her down twice now.  Unsurprisingly, she’s sacked them.  Anyway, Uber to the rescue and she’s now in with the rest of her stuff coming Sunday with a new man-with-van.  Nice little town, West Glacier.  Very picturesque and old fashioned. Had a nice cup of coffee.

Back to the Village Inn for lunch outside our room watching the lake.  I had crisps and spinach dip which was delish.  Bob had beef and tomato rolls.  After lunch we changed into our swimming things and t shirts and walked across the beach to the boat hut.  We rented a double kayak at $18 per hour and went out on the lake.  We were banned from going more than 8 miles!  Well… that’s a laugh… we were just intending to go across and back a few times at our end of the lake!!!!  No doubt our technique was very horrible (well.. mine was… ) but we managed to get around ok and without capsizing at all.  Had a lovely time paddling around the lake and of course it was flat calm and glassy. The water was very clear.

At the end of our kayaking, we walked back to the beach in front of our room and went in for a dip.  It was my idea!  My friend, Sarah, does a lot of wild swimming and I couldn’t let the side down.  I would estimate that the water temperature was about 22C, not too bad at all.  It was really pleasant.  Once in, I enticed Bob to join me.  He accused me of betrayal once he was chest deep but… he eventually did say it was quite nice really.  Once he was totally numb of course.  We have water shoes with us which were a bit of a godsend as the bottom and beach are pebbles.  Most enjoyable.

Tonight we are eating at Eddie’s again.  It’s just too tempting not to have to drive.  We did consider driving the two miles to West Glacier…. but…. no…..

Tomorrow we leave Glacier National Park and we can honestly report that this has been a breathtaking visit.  We had massive expectations and it did not disappoint. To be honest, it absolutely beggers belief to UK eyes.  The huge space, the incredible wildlife, the wilderness.  The pristine woods and hills that we really do not have anymore.  Well…. maybe in parts of Scotland, but not really, not on this scale and certainly not with the nurtured and re-introduced wildlife ….

Huge kudos to the National Park Service here in the U.S.A. who do a truly remarkable job protecting and preserving these fabulous areas of wilderness and I suppose to the federal programmes that fund them.  In Europe, there is a feeling that the USA is a bit of a polluter, a place where overt commercialism rules…. Well.. maybe in some places… but out in the wilds, in the many National and State parks…. not so… not so AT ALL.    The parks are pristine.  No obtrusive development at all, no litter, no unnatural colours, all totally eco friendly and natural.  So, on this lake which is clearly the “developed” lake in the park, there is only one resort on the lakeside and that is below tree height, blends perfectly into the lakeside, no jarring notes.  Very admirable.

The NPS has one aim as we understand it: to preserve the land as it was over one hundred years ago when they began, for the now and future generations to see and experience as it was then and to preserve the natural habitat for the animals and birds.  They could show us the way home for an absolute certainty.   I don’t know what our equivalent is.  The National Trust probably, but they are much deficient, or at least the current mob in charge are.  They should concentrate on preservation of a resource as it was and less on stunts and politically correct virtue signalling.  Sorry-not sorry – bit of a rant… 🙂

This side of the park (west) is much “softer” than the east side, perhaps due to being about 1000 feet lower.   The forests have a mix of trees, not just pine and spruce.  The hills are cloaked in trees, no bare tops.  It feels a lot less….wild…..  It’s a good mix to stay on both sides.  If I was coming with small children I would spend more time here in Apgar. It’s a picture perfect family national park holiday location: lovely lake, nice woods, range of trails, a little village, restaurants…..  If I was a heavy duty hiker or wildlife spotter I would spend more time staying in the Many Glacier area.  A mix suited us.  I really enjoyed our 3 days on the east side, hiking, seeing amazing wildlife and being a bit “on the edge”.  Our two days at Apgar have been more relaxing in a way.  I could easily spend a week here by the lake: some gentle forest hikes, boating, swimming, bit of white water rafting…. it would slip by….