One of my friend from Pune said this about Niagara falls when we first went there few years back -"Ya deshala nisargachi punyayi laabhli ahey ", (Mother nature has blessed this nation); I wouldn't blame him for exaggerating. For first time visitors, Niagara can have that kinda effect.Niagara of course happens to be a Desi Pilgrimage. And I am not sure if it is worth the hype. But anyways.
As we drove through Montana last weekend and tried to sink in those scenic views, my friend's statement kept haunting me. I kept wondering how can you even frame this place's beauty in words? Would you call "Mona Lisa" a painting?
It would be cheapening it's worth, isn't it? You would call it a masterpiece. Painting would be technically right term, but calling it a masterpiece would do some justice to that classic piece of work. The Glacier Forests, are a nature's masterpiece, IMHO. And if you have to see "nisargachi punyayi", this place would be a good start.
As you go past Apgar Village due east from the West Glacier entrance you go to the "Going to the Sun" road. There's this legend among native Indians from Montana, about a Guru who came to rescue the tribes living there. The Guru it seems came from the mountains, stayed with them, taught them how to deal with extreme weather conditions, taught them skills and how to deal with wildlife and once he was satisfied, disappeared into the Sun via those mountains. And that's how they say, the road got it's name.
The natives still have a substantial presence in those mountains and have mixed with the non-natives to a large extent. There are several interesting anecdotes that Matt told us while we were on our excursion.
As we started getting a feel of Montana we figured it had more to it than snow peaked mountains and wild life. It had a culture. A Cowboy culture if you will. As you drive through those rustic towns and villages to go to the West Glacier entrance, you can't help but feel being part of the Cohen brother movies. The old worn-ed out automobiles, the wide roads with a small "kaam chalau" deli somewhere in between with one man manning it and then of course the huge massive ranches with white picket fences around them for the richer and heavier folks of the state. Those ranches with horses grazing in wide open front yard are to me, signature snapshots of Montana. This state is in some sense a representative of the WILD WILD WEST. Only, it's greener,cooler and much more mountainous than it's southern cousins.
But all said and done, the Glacier Forests are the real deal. This is the tourism basket of the state. It's where most people collect every summers. The park remains open only 5 months a year andthat's when most pictures are clicked . I hate myself for not having a powerful Nikon. My amateurish photographic skill would have got a fillip. I could have done some justice to this place's awesome beauty if I had one of those black monsters.
It's almost like humans wait for seven months, while nature's movie is under production which would be premiered in summers. And then man opens the lock to the Glacier Park gates. Mother nature unfolds a cinematic magic. A blockbuster that lasts for next five months attracting thousands to it's magnum opus.
They come from all over the country. In different shapes and sizes. Via different routes. Some go for trail and hiking , some take the bus tours, while still some others just camp in there with their RVs/Tents around the grand lakes. One couple we met had come from Ohio on their motorbike. They had driven around 2000 miles to reach there. And the dude just could not stop clicking his Nikon. It was mesmerizing to say the least.
I think the word Picturesque gets a new meaning near the "Many Glaciers Park" on the east end. I wish we could have another day to take the trail toSwift current lake. But then as a rule, number of days are always less. We made do with taking a shorter trail on the Logan pass itself.
I would let the remaining talking on the post be done by the pictures we took. It would make more sense than my nonsensical blabber anyways....
Ladies and Gentleman, presenting, The Glacier National Park.... 08
Photo comments :
1. 'Going to the Sun' Road
2. The serene Lake McDonald's snap taken from Apgar Village
3. Two wild goats near Logan Pass. Snap taken from the car.
4. Jackson Glacier
5. "Many Glaciers" Hotel in 'Many Glaciers Park' on the East.
6. US 2 Highway
7. Chance encounter with Mama Grisly on the way to Polesbridge
8. Near Logan Pass
9. The St.Mary Lake with a small little island tree in the middle
10. Lake McDonald's lodge lobby
Dos and Donts:
# Plan a one day hike on any of the trails on 'Going to the Sun'.
# Sunscreen and Jacket are both necessary as you move higher.
# Take a guided tour on one of the Red Buses.
# For Camping, the West Side of glacier is better.
# Rafting is recommended, although we did not go for it.
# Logan Pass is touristy. I won't spend too much time there.
# Book a motel within the Park. McDonald's Lodge recommended.