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 The Great Around-the-USA Adventure

Western Montana

4 Jun 08: Awoke to rather dreary conditions today - low-hanging clouds and rain showers. But...we had to make some progress, so we were on the road about 0830. Before we knew it, we crossed the state line in Montana. Sure would have been a lot nicer had we been able to see the mountains. Ah well.

For pictures and comments of all the campgrounds we visited, click on "Campground Reviews" in Top Menu or on the links in the journal.

 Not a great day for photography. mt0003 
 mt0006  The city of Libby calls itself "The City of Eagles". This carved one was mounted right over Main Street.
 And just a few blocks down the street was this one, even bigger. Our destination for the night was Rocky Mt "Hi" Campground in Kalispell. mt0007 
 mt015  5 Jun 08: A few breaks in the clouds and no rain today as we headed up towards Glacier National Park. This is along the Flathead River.
 At Hungry Horse we took a little side trip up to the Hungry Horse Dam. One can even drive across the top of the dam. mt026 
mt035   Approaching West Glacier.
 We made it - Glacier National Park. Spending the night at Apgar Campground in the park. For more pictures of our time in the park, click here. mt038 
mt039  6 Jun 2008: We debated at great length about the weather and whether to stay or move on. Our plan was to also visit the east side of Glacier NP, but we hated to travel on a rainy day (as the forecast called for) and not see much along the way. At first we thought we'd sit tight for the day, but after seeing some sun, I checked the forecast and it was now saying 30% rain today (Friday), and 70% for Saturday and Sunday. At that we decided to head on to Saint Mary. 
 We were in and out of showers most of the way, with occasional patches of sunshine. Liz took this picture of some virga, precipitation that evaporates before hitting the ground.  mt041
mt045  In Essex we stopped at the Izaak Walton Inn, which is located right beside the BNSF RR tracks. 
 Just south of Essex is Goat Lick, where one can usually find some mountain goats this time of year. They come down from the higher elevation to partake of the salt licks along the river here. mt049 
 mt053  We crossed the Continental Divide today at Maria Pass - elevation 5,216'. Here you can see the orographic effects on the weather: to the left the mountains have caused the uplifting air to form clouds and precipitation, while off to the right, on the downslope side of the mountains, the air dries out and you can see the blue sky. This side of the park gets about half the annual precipitation that falls in West Glacier.
 To get to Saint Mary, we had to go east to Browning, and then head back to the northwest about 30 miles. Out in this area, we found a dramatic change from the mountains to rolling plains  mt061
mt070   On the way to Saint Mary, these two Glacier tour buses passed us. They are quite old vehicles, and were completely rebuilt from the ground up a few years ago
 Approaching Saint Mary, we climbed to about 5300', where it was actually snowing quite hard. We also noted the signs of a fairly recent massive forest fire. When we arrived in Saint Mary, the CG office had some pictures of the fire, which occurred just two years ago in 2006, burning 34,000 acres. The town was evacuated for 5 days, but eventually was spared.  mt078
 mt086  The view from our campsite at Johnson's CG in Saint Mary. Thanks to the cold, wet weather, we opted for a private campground with hookups
 Lower Saint Mary Lake just after sunset - taken from our campsite.  mt090
 glacier069  7 Jun 08: The weather is worse today. We drove up into Glacier NP where we parked and had lunch. The clouds were even lower today, and as we ate, it was 38 degrees and snowing! I wonder how long we'll have to hang around here to see the park on a sunny day?

8 Jun 08: The day started off on the cloudy and wet side, so Liz spent the morning baking. Ah, another great loaf of homemade bread. After lunch, there actually seemed to be a few little breaks in the clouds over the park, so we decided to take another drive up to Sun Point. Glad we did - more sun this time.

Glacier NP pictures:

Glacier NP -West side

Glacier NP - East side

Come along as we continue our journey across Montana.