Glacier / by Brian Beck

We arrived in Whitefish, MT on Saturday night after a nearly 600 mile haul from Mt. Hood.  Quimby landed at 9:15pm and we arrived about 15 minutes late.  This part of the trip had been booked knowing that Quimby had a deal that was set to close at the end of August and we knew that she would most likely need to work during the days but the plan was that I would entertain the kids during the day and we would meet up for dinner and spend our evenings together.

When we picked her up at the airport, Quimby needed to do some work so we checked into the hotel, grabbed some sandwiches, quickly scarfed them down and put the kids to bed.  I checked out the Bulldog Saloon down the street and then slipped back into the room around midnight.  Quimby was still working.

Quimby had an early call, so we vacated the room early and left her to her work.  We had breakfast and then I took them to the local ski resort where in the summer they have an alpine slide.  We spent the early part of the afternoon whizzing down the mountain on skateboards that resembled sleds and then caught a 4pm showing of Kubo and the Two Strings.  Quimby was still working but she managed to free herself for dinner before the three of us crashed out.  Quimby went back to work.

On Monday morning, I took them to West Glacier for an all-day whitewater rafting trip followed by a short jaunt into Glacier National Park to see Lake McDonald.  We arrived back in Whitefish about 7:30pm and found a local pizza place.  Quimby wasn’t sure she could join us, so while we waited for the pizza I decided to see if I could make lemonade out of lemons.  Quimby had planned to drive with us from Montana, through Yellowstone and the Tetons, and then spend the following weekend with us in Jackson Hole, but since she had been glued to her computer, I didn’t want to pull her away to remote Montana and Wyoming where she’d be without cell service for two days.  Plus, it’s no fun to hang out with lawyers while they’re slaving away (there’s an obvious joke to be made here but I’ll leave that to you).

I found her a flight from Whitefish to Jackson, and we decided to shove off a day early without her, leaving instructions that if work permitted she could meet us in Jackson or if it continued full bore (no pun intended) she could simply fly back to LA.  So on Tuesday, a day ahead of schedule, we pulled out and pointed the old Indian east toward the “Going to the Sun Road”, an engineering marvel that cuts directly through the heart of Glacier National Park, up the sheerest of cliffs, over the continental divide and down into eastern Montana on the Colorado Plateau.  Many years ago I had the opportunity to do this drive and chickened out.  It turned out not to be as treacherous as I’d feared but it also wasn’t as spectacular as I’d hoped.  Much of the drive is above the treeline, so while the views are top-of-the-world, they also lack the interest in terms of foliage and wildlife that are afforded at lower elevations.  On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a seven. 

After we crossed the divide, we headed another 250 miles south to Livingston, MT to position us for our part of the lemonade, a bonus night of camping in one of my favorite places in the world.  The first, the biggest, and arguably the best national park in the entire world—Yellowstone.

 Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 38mm, ISO 100, f8, 1/500 sec.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 38mm, ISO 100, f8, 1/500 sec.

 Parker skips stones on Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 120mm, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/500 sec.

Parker skips stones on Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 120mm, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/500 sec.

 Stones along the shore of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 86m, ISO 100, f8, 1/160 sec.

Stones along the shore of Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 86m, ISO 100, f8, 1/160 sec.

 Westward view near the top of Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 24mm, ISO 500, f8, 1/640 sec, -1/3 stop exposure adjustment.

Westward view near the top of Logan Pass on Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 24mm, ISO 500, f8, 1/640 sec, -1/3 stop exposure adjustment.

 View to the west from just outside Lake Mary entrance to Glacier National Park through fire-scarred forest.  Much of Glacier is a forbidding place.  You wouldn't want to be here in the winter.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 38mm, ISO 500, f13, 1/640 sec, -2/3 stop exposure adjustment.

View to the west from just outside Lake Mary entrance to Glacier National Park through fire-scarred forest.  Much of Glacier is a forbidding place.  You wouldn't want to be here in the winter.  Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm lens @ 38mm, ISO 500, f13, 1/640 sec, -2/3 stop exposure adjustment.