|Sunrise next to Wynn Mountain|
In the first Week of February, we were able to make enough time away from the desk to trek in and say hello to our winter caretaker, Kevin Adams. You may remember Kevin from an employee spotlight post back in November. Kevin reported that the road was mostly clear of snow, with only some long drifts, so we decided to ride mountain bikes in instead of cross country ski, which is a more common means of transportation at that time of year. Snowshoes would not have been necessary due to a lack of snow on the road, and there were some skiers just ahead of us that day whose tracks suggested they had to dismount several times. Cycling proved to be an adequate method of transportation; however we did end up pushing our bikes through several 100-200 yard snow drifts for the first 3.5 miles or so. Once we reached the Glacier National Park entrance station there were a few inches of snow on the road, but it was fairly smooth riding after that. At the entrance station, there is a backcountry registry which the Park Service requests all visitors to register with details of their intended trip. It’s not a bad idea, since it gives rangers a heads-up in case of an emergency. Winter backcountry users should be aware that Glacier National Park treats all roads behind gates in winter to be backcountry, so the regulations change a bit from the summer months. You can check the link below for details. We thought it worth mentioning that we bumped into a couple of Park visitors at the parking area who were planning on trekking in to camp at Iceberg Lake that day. Their plans were to climb Mt. Wilber the following morning. We could only imagine how strenuous, but rewarding that trip would have been.
|The Garden Wall|
|Sunrise on Mt Wilber|
The Many Glacier Hotel itself seemed to be holding up to this mild winter without much complaint. The snow drift on the east side was piled up as high as the bottom of the second story. It made us wonder how deep that drift might get during a snowier winter. Much of the power and heat is turned off in the winter months and the plumbing drained so the pipes won’t freeze and crack. The temperature inside of the lobby of the Hotel was just above freezing as our water bottles weren’t freezing up, but the light snow that was on our backpacks wasn’t melting either. There was a strong draft coming down the chimney of the fireplace and the wind whistled across the top, producing movie-like sound effects. During his stay, Kevin keeps busy making the necessary repairs to window and door trim, drywall, and any other wear and tear on the building from nature and humans alike. Evidently, there was a black bear which thought that making its winter cave under the porch on the lake side of the hotel last fall was an easier alternative than a traditional den. Boarding it up while the bear was out for the day seemed to change its mind. The heavy wind and snowfall require all of the first story windows to be boarded up for protection and it produced a ghost-town feel which contrasts the hustle and bustle of excited guests arriving and departing in the summer season.
Kevin seemed glad for the company and said to say hi to all the followers he didn’t know he has. Our trip back to the gate proved mush less of a work out as most of the snow on the road was cleared off by the overnight wind and we had a healthy tailwind to push us along. There are regulations for visiting the backcountry in Glacier National Park, and you will want to check those out before you head out on any excursion in the Park. You can call the Glacier Park Headquarters at 406.888.7800 or online here.
|View of snow drifts from the inside|
|The snowy/icy road|