Thursday, August 27, 2015

Glacier National Park - August 2015

We have been hearing for years how beautiful Glacier was and what a great hiking park it was.  But, what really convinced us to go for the first time was the fact that it was only 4 hours from my parents place in Idaho and it was the best place to go for a chance at up close Mountain Goat viewing.

We left Idaho with the hope that Montana would bring smoke free air.  But, that was not the case.  In some locations the air was so smokey you could literally "taste" it.

Our first night was spent in West Glacier.  We arrived before dinner and consequently didn't have a lot of time to explore.  We did drive out Camas Rd before and after dinner thinking it would be a good place to see wildlife.  But, we struck out both times unless you count White-tailed Deer, Red Squirrels, and this Gray Jay:

Gray Jay:

But, we hit the jackpot with dinner.  I knew that there was no food along the Going to the Sun road which was our route the next day.  So, we stopped at Glacier Grille and Pizza and got EXTRA pizza so we could have it cold the next day.  The hot pizza was delicious but eating the cold pizza at Logan's pass for lunch the next day in the relatively smoke free setting was even better.  That was our best meal of the trip.

All told, we did the Hidden Lake Overlook trail 3 times looking for goats.  We struck out the first  two times but did have lots of other photos ops.

View along Hidden Lake Overlook Trail:


Columbian Ground Squirrels:

Where's the Pika?

The third time we did the hike we struck gold (well white fur actually).  Right off the trail was a female Mountain Goat (called a Nanny) and two juveniles (called kids).  While I couldn't stand watching that TV show about a Nanny and kids, we had no problem watching these goats for almost 2 hours as they grazed back and forth across the trail.  I took hundreds of pictures and here are some of our favorites:

Tired of goat pictures yet?  I think Mamma goat was too if these looks are any indication:

While we were watching the goats, we could hear some sort of cooing nearby.  Finally, I stopped to investigate and less than 10 feet away was a group of White-tailed Ptarmigan.  A lifer bird for us!

While that experience was certainly the highlight of the trip, we were also lucky enough to spend about an hour with a cow moose:

It was fun to watch the moose eat because it would blow out air underwater presumably to "wash off" dirt before munching on the underwater plants:

We also had a few other critters along this hike:

Red Squirrel:

Yellow-pine Chipmunk:

So, between the Mountain Goats, the moose, and the Ptarmigan our smoke filled trip was a success. Unfortunately, there was no chance to take any scenery pictures. I did try, but only kept a few and have only one decent one to share.  This was the least smokey part of the trip:

While I don't have any decent pictures we did see plenty of other wildlife in Glacier including:
- Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
- Coyote (heard many around dusk but only saw one)
- 3 Black Bears (one was a cinnamon)
- 1 Grizzly at a distance on Logan Pass
- Prairie Falcon (Another lifer)

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