Saturday July 17, 2021
It is crazy to enter a national park on a weekend. It is super busy. Especially this year after everyone was cooped up last year.
We need timed entry passes to enter the park and we don’t have them so we have to enter before 6am. I am up a 4am. Jim at 4:15, it’s a struggle for him. He had a very long day of driving yesterday and he’s tired.
We enter the park in the dark and arrive at the Avalanche Lake hiking area at 5:30am. The one good thing about entering so early is that there is no line to wait in to enter the park. When we get to our destination I clean and cut up a bunch of berries that we just recently purchased. We enjoy some fresh berries with yogurt and granola for breakfast.
It is cold outside so I linger before I set out to do my hike. Jim wants to stay behind and go back to sleep.
I did this same hike last year and loved it. It is a fun hike and the lake is beautiful. I am in long pants and a fleece and I never take the fleece off the whole hike. The temperatures are pretty cold in the mornings. So I never got over heated.
When I get back Jim is just waking up from his nap. We are parked in a great shady spot so I decide to cook us some black bean and corn quesadillas for lunch and then we can have leftovers for dinner on days that it is to hot to cook in the van.
We leave the park around 3pm to pick up some things at the grocery store and do some laundry. Then later return to the park to camp for the night. We do not have a campsite in a campground since they were all full. We are actually camping illegally. We camp near a boat launch. When we entered the park this morning we noticed a van that looked like it had spent the night there. So we decide to try it and it all works out fine. The next morning when we wake up we notice another van parked right next to us. I guess they had the same idea.
Sunday July 18, 2021
We are up before 5am and head out shortly after. We are headed up to Logan Pass on the Going To The Sun Road to hike to Hidden Lake overlook. It takes us almost an hour to get there and when we do the parking lot is already half full at 6am. It sure wasn’t like this last year. There are so many people out enjoying the parks and nature.
It is an amazing hike and I highly recommend it. Although I don’t think Jim enjoyed the few hundred steep steeps it takes to get there. And the worse part is that you can see that the trail keeps going up and up! I thought Jim was going to kill me. My only saving grace was the wildlife that we saw. There were three animals that Jim wanted to see that he hadn’t seen yet and we saw them all on this hike. We saw big horn sheep, mountain goats and two grizzly bears!
We have seen an incredible amount of wildlife on this trip and I feel so thankful to have seen all that I have. Most of it has been pointed out to me by Jim. He has an incredible eye for finding the wildlife.
We head east toward the east enterance of the park continuing on the Going To The Sun Road. This is new territory for me since I was to nervous to drive further than Logan Pass last year. There was a waterfall that I wanted to hike to last year, but I didn’t because I was so nervous about driving back on the very narrow road once the traffic picked up. So last year I just drove up to Logan Pass walked around some and once I saw how busy the the road was getting I decided to go back down asap. As we are heading east toward St. Mary the road really isn’t that narrow and scary. It is much scarier driving to Logan Pass from the west side, which just happened to be the only enterance that was open last year.
We arrive at the Virginia Falls trailhead around 10am and I hike to the falls without Jim. This mornings hike kinda did him in. It is a 6 mile round trip hike that goes by a total of three waterfalls.
As we are heading out of the park we see a pullout with a few cars parked and numerous people with cameras and binoculars out looking at something. Jim and I look and see something brown so he pulls over to check it out and it is another grizzly bear. What timing we have.
We exit the park and head south to the Two Medicine park enterance. We find a first come first serve campsite in the campground and reserve it for the night. I wanted to stay two nights here but it looks like tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 98 according to the camp host. Way to hot for a campsite with no electric so we may move on tomorrow after the morning hike.
Monday July 19, 2021
We hike to Aster Falls this morning and it was an awesome hike. We see a huge moose in a pond on the way to the falls and we got to see her again on the way back. That is a total of five moose that we have seen on this trip. Jim brought the binoculars along so we were really able to view her well. She was munching her way around the pond eating the grass growing on the pond floor.
We did make plans to move on this morning after our hike but we later heard that the weather was only going to be a high of 84. We don’t have service so we couldn’t check it ourselves. I am bummed about this but Jim is getting a little bored with all this nature. He needs bars, people and socialization.
On our way out of the park there is another waterfall that is a short walk. Of course I make Jim stop and I am so glad I did. It is an amazing waterfall named after a indian warrior woman.
Once we have cell service again I start to check the weather ahead it looks really HOT! We are headed across the northern part of Montana and North Dakota to the Great lakes. It is to hot to stop driving. Jim drives until 1am looking for cooler weather. It is at a Flying J truck stop in Minot, North Dakota where we finally stop and rest our heads.
The drive was not exciting. It was flat land covered in wheat. We are following the Hi-line Railway so we also saw a lot of trains.
Tuesday July22, 2021
Today was supposed to be a short travel day, but it didn’t work out that way. We leave the Flying J and it is more flat land again. This time covered in sunflowers, but the railway is still there. We run into some unexpected heavy smoke from fires in Ontario. We decide to keep driving until it clears.
We arrive in the town of Duluth, Minnesota around 7pm. We find an excellent public parking area directly in downtown and on Lake Superior. It is $10 for 24 hours- we’ll take it! The smoke is very minor here and there are breweries with in walking distance.
Wednesday July 21, 2021
I awake later than normal at 6:45am after a late night last night.
We are motivated to get moving quickly by the sound of the horn for the lift bridge. We are not only camped on Lake Superior but also by an shipping canel inlet to Duluth Harbor. The bridge is being lifted for a massive fuel carrier. You can even yell good morning to the crew on the ship as they pass by.
We take Berkley for a 3.8 mile morning walk along the Canal Park River Walk. It is a lovely morning with temperatures in the low 60’s.
We tour the shops around downtown then stop in a bar for a 2 hour lunch. Jim was in his happy place. We had great beer and good food.