GLACIER NATIONAL PARK & CANADIAN ROCKIES, DAY 5: WHITEFISH, MONTANA

Breakfast this morning was another grab-and-go affair.  Due to the labor shortages throughout the U.S. National Park system (and just about everywhere else), the hotel was unable to staff the restaurant for breakfast.  Instead, tasty hot and cold items were offered to-go at the coffee bar.  Our voucher included both, so we selected a delicious veggie quesadilla to eat hot and took the fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait with us for lunch.

The day started with a hike at Swift Creek Trailhead, just outside of the town of Whitefish.  The Whitefish Trail System consists of 15 trailheads and 47 miles of natural surface trails through forests, wildlife habitats, and lakes.  During our hike we learned about the different trees and plants, as explained here by Scott:

(For all pictures, click on the image to see full screen view.)

Scott, our tour director

If you ever come across a plant, flower, or animal you can’t identify, check out an ap called “Seek,” created by iNaturalist, which is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.  One member of our group was using it and explained how it worked.  I am currently finding it very helpful in identifying the flowers and plants I photographed before I learned about the ap.  After opening Seek, I hold my phone’s camera up to my computer monitor and let the ap try to identify the photo on the screen.  It works!

“Pearly Everlasting,” as identified by using the “Seek” ap

Following our hike, we were treated to a taste of Wild Huckleberry liquor.  More about huckleberries on the next hike of the day…

Next, we headed to Whitefish Mountain Resort where we boarded chairlifts that took us to the top of “Big Mountain,” where the 2001 U.S. Alpine Skiing Championships were held.  At an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, the 360-degree views of Whitefish and Whitefish Lake were spectacular.

We had the option of riding in a gondola or chair. Much to my surprise, Bruce agreed to join me in the chair!

Bruce and I ventured off to hike a loop trail to see more of the mountain.  The low clouds were creating such dynamic views and weather—warm when the sun broke through, and cold when the clouds blocked the sun. 

Along the way, we came across huckleberry bushes, so my continuous pauses to snack on the tasty berries along the way allowed for the remainder of our group to catch up with us. 

Huckleberries are a cousin of the blueberry, but smaller and purple in color.  In the gift shops throughout Glacier National Park, Huckleberry everything is available for purchase.  From flavored chocolates to preserves, they have it all.  In addition to the Wild Huckleberry liquor, Scott treated us to huckleberry licorice, which was quite tasty.  Nothing, however, beats a fresh huckleberry picked from the bush!

The high-altitude hike back up to the chairlift was a bit steep, which momentarily took the wind out of Bruce and some of the others, but I surprisingly managed ok.  I was pleased that the previous weeks of post-swim, masked track walks in my community’s gym had built up my lungs for the thin air.

Chamaenerion-angustifolium

While riding the chairlift back down, we were treated to sweet view of a mother and baby deer cuddled up under a tree.  Wildlife!  I tried to get a picture, but the chairlift was moving too quickly, and I missed it.  Oh well, how about these two babies that were hanging out in our backyard (several years back), while their mom foraged for food, instead?

In the summer, Big Mountain is also a popular destination for trail riding, so I caught this guy in action on his bicycle.  Considering we were moving on the chairlift, and he was flying down the mountain, I’m surprised my little Panasonic Lumix was able to capture these shots as good as it did:

Tansies- “Golden Buttons”

The remainder of the day was open for an afternoon and evening at leisure, so we checked out the town of Whitefish and ended our day with an early dinner,  topped off with Sweet Peaks ice cream.  Selecting two new (and different) flavors, Bruce and I had enjoyed five in all during our Montana visit. Yummy!

Mural on the side of Sweet Peaks Ice Cream
Tile and glass mosaic on the side of a craft shop. There was one for each season. This was my favorite, “Summer.”

Before walking back to the hotel, we picked up a copy of Flathead Beacon to read about local life.  The free newspaper includes “Police Blotter,” a listing of calls received by the local police and sheriff departments.  Check out some of these entries: 

Friday 7/29

8:49 a.m.  The actions of a man jumping around and climbing on a wall was described as gorilla-like.

9:05 p.m. A woman called to tell law enforcement she was missing the calendar that usually hung on her wall.

Saturday 7/30

9:05 a.m.  A woman called to complain about the governor.

7:58 p.m.  While playing with his owner, a dog accidentally chewed on a watch and dialed 911.

8:54 p.m.  Two dogs kept chasing the local deer.

Sunday 7/31

11:03 p.m. A bull and 10-12 cows escaped their pasture and headed east.

Tuesday 8/2

12:22 a.m.  A grizzly bear knocked over a trash can and made off with a bag of garbage.

8:19 a.m.  A man was in the process of divorcing his wife but she kept sending him explicit photos.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if those were the “crime” reports in our local news?  I’ll trade it for shootings any day!

Next up: An Unplanned Surprise Visit to Moraine Lake