Yellowstone and Adventures on the way to Glacier National Park

So let’s get this trip started. When I found out I was going to Glacier National Park on a Partners in the Parks excursion and that I would be driving, I decided that I could not just pass Yellowstone (I mean come on, it was only a little over a hundred miles out of the way), I had to stay one night in the park. I guess I was underprepared. I didn’t do enough research. That is always part of the adventure with me so it seems and in most cases I embrace it, however I found in this case that it made for some rather annoying situations.

Beware of bears. Don’t get yourself gored by buffalo. Geysers are extremely hot. Wolves. Mountain Lions.  – These were all things I was prepared for, but no one warned me against the incredibly stupid, dangerous, and overpopulated humans. Once in the park boundary it took well over two hours to get to my camp site near West Thumb on Yellowstone Lake. But no more negativity.

It was all worth the effort when I finally slipped off alone after the sun had gone down and the moon was out over the lake and all the people vanished into their comfort campers.

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I felt as if I had been transported to Walden Pond but instead of train noise close to the edge of the pond, it was nonstop car traffic. There wasn’t a soul near the lake; just lots of people in cars. What kind of park experience is that? Regardless, it was beautiful as the fog rolled in and the fish jumped up into a world other than their watery own. The back end of the pond began to blend with the fog, mountains, and sky making it look in some places as if it was endless like the California Desert’s Salton Sea.

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Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts.

I decided the best way to avoid the crowds on the trials was to be out on the trail by 4 a.m. It worked out pretty well, however I wasn’t expecting so much steam. I got lost. I found my way eventually and headed on to Glacier (another 7 hours or so). Here are the pictures from that morning’s adventures.

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On my way out of the park, I ran into some of humanity’s old friends. We have historically loved these animals so much that we have nearly snuffed them out of existence. It’s not much different now, only we capture their image and barrage them with noise instead of kill more of them than we can eat.

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I tend to believe that you cannot get much out of an area if all you are doing is driving through it. I almost feel ashamed when I have to. Every moment of the drive from Yellowstone to Glacier was breathtaking. I cannot begin to imagine what it would have been like to walk the whole thing instead.

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And then I stopped for breakfast in the town of Ennis, Montana. What exactly do I enjoy about this town? I don’t know. I think it’s something in the atmosphere.

Do yourself a favor… if you find yourself coming through this town, stop in to the Ennis Cafe. Great atmosphere. Great food. Great people. Did I mention unbelievable french toast? Both the town and cafe remind me of Chetek, Wisconsin , a beautiful little town surrounded by lakes, pine forests, and wildlife. Like Chetek, fishing is a huge attraction in Ennis.

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Off subject, here’s a Cedar Breaks update. From this Saturday to Wednesday we are expecting snow. And those of us living up at 10,350 feet above sea level have been advised to be ready to move out of our housing with an hour’s notice.

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And this was just a few days ago…

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And this was late August…

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Only a month in a half ago…

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July quarter mile out my back door…

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This is a last sweet taste, glowing with the sun, wind, and trees. These last few days are and have been the golden days; the last drops before the stiffening.

I sit here and count off the sleepy minutes and the gnawing visitors who have made the staff’s nerves raw. At six I will rocket out that door and into the golden cathedrals that will soon collapse before our feet.

I’m peeling leaflets of time away; trying to make each rip and tear last an eternity, but each comes off faster and gets buried under quicker than the last. I will not sift through the pile of the fallen; but instead reach out to those about to turn.

It’s Fall; the unravelling. Ever quicker it goes spiraling to and end; the closing; before the great slowing. Everything is in a hurry to stuff in what they can before the cold. There is a real escalation here, you can feel the dire urgency in the air. I’m going to swim in it a little longer.

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6 thoughts on “Yellowstone and Adventures on the way to Glacier National Park

  1. Rasa Weber says:

    Awesome pictures, as always, Josh. Can’t wait to see you and hear more stories in person!

  2. Aunt Annette says:

    Enjoying your blog, such beautiful scenery. Happy you got to be there, not many people have that pleasure.

  3. James Clarke says:

    Josh, it’s great to hear from you and read your blog. You have quite an eye. Gorgeous pictures. It’s easy to forget such places while absorbed in the racket of NYC’s subways and cityscape. It’s good to be reminded. I haven’t been to any of the western national parks since the 1980’s. It’s time to go again. Thanks. On the subject of the shock of cars and people in the parks, I had the same experience in Yosemite and Death Valley. Access to the parks is a real problem.. maybe we’ll go to some form of train (wind or sun powered, ha ha) in the future, and then good old legs.

    • Josh LaMore says:

      Hi James! Guess I haven’t had the chance to tell you. I’ll be back in NYC mid October. I’m very glad you have been enjoying the blog and the pictures. A summer excursion to the parks of the west would be a wonderful event for the parks and the family.

      As far as access problems… I have found Edward Abbey’s proposal to put a smile on my face (although it may need a little adjusting with the times, the problem is the same).

      “No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs–anything—but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”

      Over the course of the summer I have often pondered bringing back the trains that used to take people from park to park around the Grand Circle. We should only allow special passes for parking, otherwise everyone must take a train to the park and, once in the park, if you do not want to use your legs or only want to use your legs in a specific part of the park, let a shuttle bus or another train take you to different stops along the way.

      The parks have reached visitation numbers that are not sustainable. Taking cars out of the equation and requiring use of public transportation to get into the parks, I believe, will actually limit the amount of people attending the parks. Many of the people who come to these parks only want to drive through and, if they can help it, not get out of their cars at all. Zion National Park (just 30 miles below me) now from memorial day to labor day requires visitors to use their natural gas powered shuttle busses inside the park. Everyone has to park in the same parking lots and then, in order to go into the park, you must take the shuttle. The impacts have been tremendous. Vegetation is coming back all along the road, the wildlife has reestablished old habitats, their are less accidents, the air quality has improved, there has been a large reduction in noise, and visitors seem to be in a better mood.

      I do hear complaints from park-goers daily at Cedar Breaks about the shuttle system at Zion. Older generations feel that somehow their rights have been violated; that they no longer can drive through Zion wherever and however they want to; and that they are now forced to share the experience with large groups of people on the bus. Of course the people who complain also dislike anyone that isn’t exactly like them… the use of the word “foreigner” comes up a great deal. Hopefully, with the use of tram services, lazy, crude, unethical visitors like this will stop coming to the parks.

      Glacier National Park has started a natural gas bus service too, however, they also allow cars to drive the roads as well. This has only made matters worse. It allows more visitors per day into areas they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get into (since the parking lots are always full). This has made many stretches of some of the best and most touching trails to be so overrun it’s comparable to walking in time square. In places trails have gone from a width of 4 feet to, within a few years, being closer to 14 feet wide. And the parking lots (for instance at Logan Pass) well… people come in, take a parking spot and the proceed to sell their parking spot to desperate tourists, who have circled the lot sometimes for over an hour. There are too many people around, of course, for the park service to be able to do much of anything about it. Just imagine what is happening to the landscape and wildlife if this is what is happening in the parking lot. And we (the park service) is supposed to be able to spend their time educating and informing guests about the park and environment? They cannot it has come down to policing. The car situation in parks, I think, is directly comparable to letting everyone drive into disney world and allow them to wait in line for rides and hot dogs with their cars.

      As for the parks being looked at as holy places… I believe they are now more so looked at as places of entertainment that can and should be bent to everyone’s personal desires, intent, and will.

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