Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28 – Glacier National Park

We be Jammin’!  We traveled the Road to the Sun in a 1936 red Jammer. The name reflects the sound made changing gears in the pre-automatic days.  The roof rolled back and we had an awesome view of mountains, glaciers and waterfalls! When we stopped for photos, we popped up and shot through the roof! Our first stop at McDonald Lodge was for a view of the lake and to see the 99-year-old lodge. 

  The park was created from part of the Blackfeet Reservation and organized in 1910.  It preserves five ecosystems that exist within 50 miles: rain forest, subalpine, alpine, grassland and prairie.  The rainforest of hemlocks and cedars is the eastern edge of the Pacific rainforests.  The cedars were as old as 1,000 years and can reach 230 feet tall.

Logan Pass sits astride the Continental Divide.  The alpine location is a popular spot for hikers and wildlife.  A white mountain goat showed off her calf in a field of wildflowers.  Off in the distance, a group of Big Horn Sheep relaxed on a stony slope and blended in very well. 

 From St. Marys Lake we had a spectacular view of glaciers, the emerald lake and Wild Goose Island.  In 1850 explorers estimated there were about 150 glaciers in the area.  Today there are only 25 and scientists expect them all to melt by 2030.  A glacier by definition has three properties: 25 acres large, 100 feet  thick and moving.  Glaciers carved this terrain and left a u-shaped valley and two sided mountain peaks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23 – Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

For six thousand years, Blackfoot Indians used buffalo jumps to hunt buffalo, without horses or rifles.  Grazing herds of buffalo were funneled into drive paths by the use of rock and brush cairns.  Natives dressed in wolf and buffalo calf skins unsettled the herd and started it moving toward the cliff.  Many tribes joined together for the hunt as many as 100,000 could be present.  Camp was set up beside the Oldman River below the jump where processing of the meat would take place. Every part of the animal was used, hides for shelter and clothing and bones as tools. Dried buffalo was ground and mixed with berries and fat to produce pemmican, which would last through the winter. 

Fort Macleod was the first base for the North West Mounted Police, later becoming the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  They were a Canadian presence in the northwest and as such the rule of law.  They worked to stop the whiskey trade between Fort Benton (ND) and Fort Whoop Up (AB).  The training practices of the Mounties developed into the Musical Ride, maneuvers set to music.  We enjoyed the
performance by young horsemen and horsewomen very much. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22 – Waterton, AB

Waterton, what a beautiful place to celebrate our anniversary!  Waterton is a small provincial park bordering Glacier NP to the south.  Together they form an International Peace Park.  The town of Waterton is small and quaint with shops, hotels and ice cream!  We explored the Prince of Whales Hotel located on a bluff overlooking Waterton Lake.  The view was awesome – lake and mountains, wow!  And inside there is a 3-story chandelier! 

The lake cruise on the "International" was delightful.  We traveled the length of the lake stopping at Goat Haunt a US border crossing for hikers.  There was even an eagle to welcome us.  What a special day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18 – Jasper, AB

Mount Edith Cavell was named to honor a WWI nurse who was martyred for her care of all soldiers despite their nationality.  The switchback road had wonderful views around each turn, mountains, evergreens and blue sky.  The peak rises high above hanging glaciers and alpine meadows.  Angel glacier spreads its “wings” over the valley.  Alberta is the ‘Wild Rose” Province and even at this altitude the roses were abundant and beautiful.

Our next stop was Athabasca Falls for a picnic lunch.  There are extensive walkways at the falls that give an ever closer view of the limestone canyon and rushing water.  The spray was cool on a warm afternoon.