When I get near Browning and turn up route 89, I pass a sign that says "Cross Winds". Theyíre not kidding. I get belted by a 40-MPH breeze that doesnít stop until I reach Kiowa, 12 miles later. The weather channel had predicted some gusty winds in the area, but this is ridiculous. Iím leaning over at a 45-degree angle just to keep the bike going straight! I stop in St. Maryís, the east entrance of the park, for my NPS Stamp and some great Fruity French Toast at the Park Cafe.
The Going-To-The-Sun Road is a scenic banquet, crossing Glacier Park between West Glacier and St. Mary. The 50 mile paved road was built in the 1930ís and is considered a national landmark. Itís narrow, steep and winding with pullouts for viewing every few miles. I stop at almost all of them, taking over an hour to reach the Logan Pass Visitor Center at 6,646 feet. Avalanche chutes look like ski trails, where the rushing snow has snapped trees like match sticks, clearing the steep slopes. The hillsides are home to Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Wolves and Grizzly Bears. The scenery is the most spectacular Iíve ever seen, and as Mr.Grinell said, it is impossible to verbalize the beauty of the mountains. You need to see this in person to understand.
Logan Pass sits atop the Continental Divide, where all the water on the west side flows to the Pacific and that on the east flows towards the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and The Gulf of Mexico. A storm system is flowing over the top and when I reach the pass, what is rain at lower elevations is now snow! I stop the bike, put it on the center stand to keep it from being blown over, and take refuge inside the very crowded visitor center. The weather station inside says the wind is blowing at 50 MPH and the air temp before the wind chill is 40 degrees! This is not what I had in mind. The weather channel said there was a slight chance of showers in the mountains. They said nothing about a blizzard.
The Going-To-The-Sun road is closed from October until early June, and with good reason. Snowdrifts up to 80 feet cover Logan Pass. The visitor center becomes completely submerged under the snow. It takes months to clear the roads and dig out the building. In 1992, they got a foot of snow here in August!
The storm isnít letting up, but I must go on and head down the western pass. When I get back to my motorcycle itís covered with ice! This is pretty wild, I think to myself, but what the hell have I gotten myself in to? Barely able to see past the parking lot, I descend along the broad face of the "Garden Wall", with 10,000 feet peaks over my shoulder. Under 6,000 feet, the snow turns back to rain. I keep it under 30 MPH as I pass "Weeping Wall" and "The Loop" where the road turns sharply and follows the valley floor.
I reach what I intended to be my campground for the night, Avalanche Creek, but the rain doesnít look like itís going to end anytime soon. I head down the road and stop at Lake McDonald Lodge for a warming by the fire and some hot chocolate. While inside, the weather gets worse, turning to hail, then thunder and lightning. I really was looking forward to camping tonight, but it is just not going to happen. Itís only 3:00 PM, and I canít stay at the lodge, so I decide to do tomorrow today.
I had scheduled two shorter days together, as I had planned to camp. I figure Iíll just ride on to Helena and then have a full day of rest tomorrow. Why not? Itís only about 240 miles and Iíve only ridden about 150 so far. I love Glacier, but thereís not much to do in the rain. SO I RIDE.
I leave the park at West Glacier, heading south and then east along US-2, back towards Browning. At Marais Pass, I cross the divide again, this time at a much more peaceful 5,280 feet. Iíve circumnavigated the park. When I reach US-89 and head south, the rain has stopped, but Iím back against the wind. Iím in that 45 degree lean all the way to Choteau, about 70 miles away.
I reach I-15 near the Holter Dam, and I canít remember why I donít like the interstate. The road is empty, has great sweeping curves, and the speed limit is 75 MPH. As my good friend Austin would say, "Yeah Baby, Yeah!"
| DREAM | JOURNEY
| IMAGES | STATS
| PARKS | MAPS
| GEAR | LINKS
| CREDIT | HOME |