Logan Pass, 6646 ft above sea level… done!
With our biggest climb ahead of us, we woke up early with hopes of sunny skies. The forecast for the afternoon wasn’t great, but with blue sky all around we decided the ride was a go. After packing up and enjoying a pancake breakfast at the KOA, we headed two miles down the road to the entrance of Glacier National Park in Saint Mary, Montana. We paid the daily fee and began to ride the “Going to the Sun Road” leading us to the top of Logan Pass, along the continental divide. Anxious (some more nervous than others) and excited, we had been thinking about this ride through the Rockies for almost the entire trip. With seventeen miles to the pass, we headed out beneath clear skies. The first five miles went by quickly, and were not much of a climb. In fact, we actually rode downhill a few times. Usually we would welcome the down-hills, however, with two thousand feet to the pass, we knew going down was only going to make things harder. Finally, after turning the corner and seeing our first hairpin turn we began to climb. Stopping often to take in the gorgeous scenery, and rest of course, we took our time going up. The climb was surprisingly gradual, compared to the mountains we tackled in Vermont and New York. With just a few miles to the pass, the dark clouds moved in quickly, and the rain began. We took shelter along the side of the road (people driving by took pictures of us!) until the storm passed, then put on extra layers and continued on. But not to long after putting the layers on, the sun broke through, and we had to stop and remove them. We continued alongside the beautiful waterfalls, beneath the rock overhangs, and around corner after corner. Finally, with the visitor’s center in sight, we turned the last sharp corner and climbed to the top. Just before getting their we received a little encouragement from a family we met last night at the KOA, who were riding down in a tour bus. We had reached the top of Logan Pass, and the continental divide. Eager to sit down and eat our lunch, we parked ourselves outside the visitor’s center and plowed through almost all the food we brought..Jake’s panniers are surely getting lighter. After admiring the view from the top, we layered up for the 32 mile decent, and took off down other side off the 6.5 percent grade “Going to the Sun Road.” Immediately, we spotted the wildlife we had been waiting for, in the form of white mountain goats. We flew down the mountain, around the very sharp turns overlooking the valley and snow covered mountains. The view was spectacular and we were very happy to have traveled westward and saved the best for last! More importantly, Dad was happy to be able to ride on the inside of the road, as his fear of heights is not a good match for small guardrail and steep drop-off into the gorge. Also, there was a good deal of road construction on the way down, something we would not have wanted while climbing. We enjoyed cruising along effortlessly (though using our brakes a lot) and enjoying the vast expanse of mountains, above, below, and beside us. Determined to have a snowball fight in July, we stopped at the first sign of reachable snow to hurl it at one another. We continued our decent, until reaching the Lake McDonald Lodge for and early dinner. The food (and dessert of course) was great! We attempted to make reservations at multiple motels, but they were all full so we set our sights on the West Glacier KOA, 14 miles away. We continued descending the “Going to the Sun Road” around the gorgeous turquoise lakes and streams, until reaching west glacier and climbing the one mile hill to the campground. It’s not a complete day if we don’t end with a hill! Dad surprised us with a cabin for the night (though I am convinced he is just afraid of the bears) and we are happy to have a roof over our heads. A short soak in the hot tub for our legs, and warm showers felt great after a long day. Proud of our day’s accomplishments, we are getting settled in for the night. We look forward to making quick work of the rest of Montana!
As embarrassed as I am to do so, I feel compelled to end today’s post with a quote from the song I had stuck in my head all day…
There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb!