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Kelowna/Jasper/Banff/Glacier Trip

Day 13 of 17

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Wednesday, July 29th
Drive to Glacier National Park, Montana

Today was another day to pack up our camp. As we packed up our camp, we noticed there had been a small indentation in the ground where water collected underneath our tent. One of our sleeping bags was a little wet, and the rain fly was obviously still wet, so we'd have to try to dry them off later. We stuffed everything into the car and left camp around 10am.

We went past Banff, headed toward Calgary. I still didn't have a replacement for my book on hiking in Glacier National Park that I'd left on the plane. I was hoping to find one in Calgary, so we stopped at a Chapters there. No luck. I used the GPS to find a restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was no longer there (the GPS database was out of date), but serendipitously there was an outdoor store there. I went inside and found the one and only hiking guide for Glacier National Park that they had. As it turns out I didn't need to do this, since I could have gotten the same book at the Glacier visitor's center, but at the time I had no way of knowing if we'd reach the visitor's center before closing time, or if they'd have the book. So, in any case, the fact that I had the book now made me happy.

We stopped for lunch, then picked up some groceries before contining the drive south from Calgary. Along the way we passed several large beautiful fields filled with yellow flowers. As far as I can tell, these were probably canola fields.

The border crossing into the United States was practically empty. The border agent looked like he had to interrupt his lunch to handle us. He asked us how long we'd been in Canada, and if we bought anything (we'd bought some wine). And that was it. He scanned our passports and waved us on. For some reason I'd expected a lot more questions, but I guess maybe it's easier for Americans to enter America than it is for them to enter a foreign country.

We stopped for gas in Babb, then stopped for ice in St. Mary before entering Glacier National Park. I'd reserved a camp site, but again I could not reserve any specific site. You're at the mercy of the park rangers. As far as I could tell, we got one of the worst sites at St. Mary Campground. The man who'd driven up right in front of us without a reservation had gotten a better site than us. We had little shade (some aspens on one side of our camp), and what little views we would have had were blocked by a massive RV which would never move while we were there.

If I had to do it again, I might have chosen a different campground, but unfortunately only Fish Creek and St. Mary are reserveable. I couldn't afford to chance a first-come, first-served site not really knowing how often the sites fill. Well, at least I was able to string together a clothesline on the aspen trees to dry our clothes. It was quite warm, and when I spread out the rain fly on the ground (which was strangely moist despite the heat), it dried quickly.

While we didn't need to get a campfire permit here, there is no wood for sale in the campground. Jean drove back down to St. Mary to pick up some firewood while I set up camp. After dinner, we made the short walk across the river to the visitor's center. We checked out the gift shop and looked through the telescope at the osprey nest just outside. Unfortunately we were too late to see the Native American show held in the visitor's center. We did see that there would be a talk on pikas the next day, so we hoped to make that.

Bridge over river next to St. Mary campground

River next to St. Mary campground

Mountains across from St. Mary visitor's center

We returned to camp and found that it was quite cold. It had been warm earlier, but as soon as the sun went down it became frigid. This would turn out to be the coldest night of the trip. I had thought that as we traveled south on this trip (from Jasper to Banff to Glacier) it would get warmer, but the opposite seemed to be true. At least this gave us an opportunity to enjoy a campfire.

Our camp site at St. Mary campground


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