The Glacier Park Lodge

All of the amazing hotels of the National Parks in which we stayed, were built by the Great Northern Railway a century or so ago in an effort to open up the regions and hopefully lead to a huge influx of tourists and adventurers who it was hoped would obviously travel by train. Sadly great in principle but in practice it was a loss making investment. Almost all of the hotels were not financially successful.

The most exquisite was the Prince of Wales, refer previous blog. Last night stayed at the Glacier Park Lodge.

The more astute of you will notice that there is a day of cycling missing. The observation is correct, at least as far as I was concerned. It was a day of extreme wind, blustery and for a significant part of the planned route, uphill and into a headwind. Finally to convince me to stay in the support vehicle, a goodly part of the route involved cycling a major highway! I am too old to die!

I had more than sufficient exertion the day before on the trek to the Crypt Lake.

The. General Store of Glacier Park, which if you are short of Kodak 32mm. Slide film, is apparently still available

The Crypt Lake and Hike

This hike has been judged amongst the Top 10 hikes in the world and amongst the top hikes in Canada. It is an extreme outdoor adventure climbing almost 1000m and 10km one way or 20 bone crunching km in and out. About 1 km away from the lake (a glacial lake) are two Indiana Jones heart stopping encounters with ones fear of heights, not to mention death, paramount in the experience. The first is a ledge climb with the width being about a metre for 25 metres then crawling or bending through a tunnel in the rocks – which I must admit I could not work out if it was a natural walk way or man made, to access this one climbs a metal ladder up about 2 meters. At the end of the tunnel, one is confronted by a precipitous gorge and another ledge crawl, the width of which is such that to minimise the chance of missing one’s footing and plunging a thousand metres into the ravine, there is a steel cable drilled into the rock face every few metres.

Once negotiated, there is a further 1km track to a breathtaking glacial lake. The only way to do it justice is with photographs.

Having eaten lunch, sitting with bare feet in the deliciously icy water, teaming with trout, one repeats the whole adventure.

It was, to add to the sense of masochism, 32 degrees in a burning sun despite being at more than 3000m .

Have just had dinner in the dining room of the Prince of Wales hotel! It has a Scottish theme! The staff are in kilts and at 8pm in the lounge is a talk on the history of Waterton and the Prince of Wales hotel, given by a young Asian man in a kilt!

Glacier and Waterton Lakes

Again for the last 3 days, we have been electronically “stranded”, no “cell phone connection ” is the way it is bemoaned and what a joy to see families and friends actually chatting, playing cards and generally making their own entertainment.

The cycle trip is demanding, but the rewards in terms of exquisite scenery and exhilarating descents is worth it.

A few representative photographs

Thanks Backroads

Our last day of the trip and we leisurely meandered down the Snake River, floating on large inflatable rubber dinghies. A just reward after our previous days of hiking. It was a great group of like minded active adventurers ably led by Eilee, Mikey and Molly. Alas it seems I was the only one NOT to see any wildlife – neither on two legs or four, other than chipmunks of which there were hundreds.

Champagne on the last day at breakfast. Totally out of character for me

The Rockefeller Preserve

Another perfect day both in terms of weather and the hiking trail. The Rockefeller family were outstanding philanthropists. This is an area in the Teton National Park purchased by the family as the developers were mounting an all out attack to take it over. Indeed I encourage you to search for quotes by Laurance Rockefeller

A few examples

I profoundly feel that the art of living is the art of giving. You’re fulfilled in the moment of giving, of doing something beyond yourself.

In the midst of the complexities of modern life, with all its pressures, the spirit of man needs to refresh itself by communion with unspoiled nature. In such surroundings- occasional as our visits may be- we can achieve that kind of physical and spiritual renewal that comes alone from the wonder of the natural world.

Teton National Park

A delightful 20km hike climbing about 1000 blister inducing metres, give or take a few hundred. We took a fast boat across a lake to our starting point then along Cascade canyon with an obviously cascading river and with the snow covered Teton mountain range on either side.

That’s snow on and beside the trail

The mandatory panorama

Not as Big as Texas !

At last, I have found the ONE thing that is not a “supersize me” serve in the United States a Of America – toast! Moreover not only are serves of what was called “wheat toast” minute , they are thin, dry and indescribably boring. How small are the slices? Compare them to the adjacent single serve jars of jam.

Yellowstone Park

I am now in the Teton Park, these last two days have been totally disconnected from the outside world when it comes to phones and emails, hence your blissful ignorance. This does not seem to faze the thousands of mainly American tourists who tolerate electronic starvation by compensating at the meal table and takeaway cafeteria. Convoys of articulated semi trailers and refrigeration trucks speed into the national park in numbers and at an alacrity that make the siege of Berlin at the end of WWII seem like, well for want of a better term (and pun) the relief of a Sunday school picnic.

As in interesting aside, did you know that in the USA as far as I can deduce, all electric wall switches go down for on and up for off and that taps turn clockwise for on and anticlockwise for off! Thought you may be interested.

Creating an itinerary that has you arriving into Los Angelos airport at 6 am is not recommended. There are several flights, all from Australia, that disgorge, possibly dump is the better word, more than 2000 passengers within several minutes from at least 5 Airbus A380.

Negotiating immigration was relatively painless as they now have the electronic system we use in Australia, having scanned passport, face, fingerprints of 4 fingers and answering such complex questions as “are you a terrorist?” , a ticket is printed and the gates open. Sadly this reassuring journey grinds to a halt when entering the baggage collection hall, 2 lines of weary, sleep deprived passengers, from First, Business and Economy stirred into one giant socialist snake line that twisted and writhed around and passed the more than a dozen baggage carousels. Spasmodically there is an agonal convulsive jolt, the snake inches forwards by a millimetre, then settles back into a state of resigned acceptance of its fate.

All the while distraught families rush up and down outside the queue, pushing their mountain of luggage, approaching the customs staff wailing that they have a connecting flight to Delaware or Minneapolis at 7:45 am. They are told they must join the queue although I do admit it is done sympathetically and at no time did I sense that a gun was about to be drawn by either combatant.

I had a layover time of almost 4 hours, to my connecting flight to Salt Lake City, which I smugly assumed, as I surveyed the pandemonium would be more than enough to allow me to saunter past the avenues of fast food outlets that occupy the LA airport.

It took all of an hour for my queue to negotiate to the customs officer. In the distance I could just discern a huge billboard above the EXIT sign which as I approached came into focus. It was that iconic picture of the HOLLYWOOD structure on the hillside above LA. “Welcome to Los Angeles – have a nice day” . Not a nice start I seethed, but somewhat pacified that I still had time to make it to the Delta terminal and even partake of the “special dozen” Dunkin Doughnuts ” (two dozen for the price of one dozen) .

It was not to be, as in entering the hall I was confronted by an eye watering queue that seemed to equal that of the international interaction. After another hour (by this time I had resigned myself to the fact that I would only have time to buy a simple dozen Dunkin Doughnuts) the X-ray and body search counter was inching its way towards me – everyone was removing shoes, sandals or thongs. I enquired of the customs officer if indeed everyone had to remove shoes and she in a rather bored attitude, drawled “only if you’re under 75”. Apparently prodded into action by my seemingly innocuous question she peered over her glasses, looking at me and asked “Are you over 75?” Sadly I had to say no although I did for one millisecond, toy with the idea of saying yes. As I inched towards the security check I ruminated on the cut off age. Was a 75 year old much less likely to pack plastic explosives in their shoes or was it simply that at that age , having bent over to take off one’s shoes, a 75 year old would be crippled in the bent position unable to then safely stand upright?

Anyway here are some photos of my first two days In Yellowstone Park. I think they are stunning,

Jackson of Jackson Hole.

Elk antlers shed annually and collected by the children

a few pics from Jackson Wyoming – the main town of Jackson Hole. The term “hole” was the description given to what is, in reality, a “valley” but the Wild West beaver hunters preferred to call it a “hole”, for reasons that totally escape me.