Sunday, May 1, 2022

Bicycling on the Going-to-the-Sun Road

I saw a bear in Glacier Park, and the bear seemed interested in me.  More about that at the end of this post.

It has been on Ruby's bucket list to ride her bicycle on the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. Last year she had ridden to Logan Pass from the east side on the Sun Road.  Since Ruby saw me last Monday; I ride my bicycle a lot; the Sun Road is closed to vehicles while they plow snow off the road, but one can ride the Sun Road up to the Loop area, Ruby decided she wanted to bicycle the Sun Road with me this past Sunday.

Ruby has a bicycle carrier that can handle two bicycles, and we thought we would be back by 5:30 pm, so we went in her car to the Park, instead of each of driving our vehicles.  That is, after she saw my cattle and the new calves in my corral.  I don't remember the exact time but I think we started our ride after 11 am and before noon.

The road is closed at Lake McDonald lodge so that is where we started our ride.  The parking lot for cars was mostly full.

We took our time riding.  We stopped at a few places along the way, to look at McDonald Creek and some falls, and to take photos.  Ruby's bicycle still had its snow tires on it.  It made a humming noise as she rode.  Well, I guess we won't have to worry about encountering a bear as the sound of the tires will let the bears know we are coming, and they will leave.  Ruby's friend rode her bicycle on this road yesterday and she said she saw a bear along or on the road near the Cascades area.

Also slowing down our ride was that my bicycle's front tire went flat.  Really?!   Last Monday after I met Ruby and then continued my bicycle ride my front tire had gone flat.  When I got back home that time I took the tube out of the tire and inflated it to find the leak.  The tube didn't want to leak.  Finally a leak occurred on one of my previous patches.  So I re-patched the tube.   I had ridden about 170 miles since then with no flat tire.   Now today, a little over four miles into our ride, my tire goes flat?!  I had no repair kit to fix my flat tire.  Ruby was willing to quit the ride, and ride another day.  I wasn't.   The last time I had a flat I rode 14 miles on the flat tire.  So I was willing to do that again.  It has been a few years since I was last in the Park, so I didn't remember how many miles it was to the Loop.  It was farther that I thought.  By the time we got back to Ruby's car we had ridden 29 miles.  25 miles on a flat bicycle tire.   But I did it.

Between the Lake McDonald lodge and Avalanche Creek area the road had ups and downs.  After the Avalanche Creek area it was mostly slightly up the rest of the way.  The last three miles was steeper.  Ruby has to stop at few times to take a break during the last three miles.  But we made it to the Loop.

Other people were bicycling on the road.  Not too many so it wasn't crowded.  Quite a number of other bicyclists were riding e-bikes.  So we got passed by a number of times.

At the Loop we rested, looked at the mountains and snow, and took our time.   Ruby doesn't like to ride too fast when riding downhill, so during the first three miles of our return trip she used her brakes to slow down.  Even though my flat tire slowed my bicycle down I still had to use my bicycle's brakes to slow down to keep pace with Ruby.

We weren't at the Cascades area, but it was before we reached the Avalanche Creek area when Ruby noticed a bear on the road ahead of us.  So we stopped and waited.  The bear was slowly walking on the road towards us.   Then two bicyclists from the other direction came, saw the bear, and finally stopped.  They were much closer to the bear than us.  The bear turned and looked at them, then turned and continued walking towards Ruby and I.

Maybe the bear will go off the road before he reached us.  The bear did.  Briefly.  Then came back on the road and towards us.  We turned around and rode back the direction we came from.  We would stop and check on the bear, but it continued to come our direction. 

A bicyclist came from our direction, and since he didn't seem to notice the bear, I told him there was a bear ahead.  So he stopped.   The bear continued on slowly towards us.  We rode away some more.  The sides of the road now had tall piles of snow on each side.  I saw an area where I thought Ruby and I could climb over and go over to snow free ground in the trees.  We could duck down and maybe the bear wouldn't see us.

I leaned my bicycle against the snow bank. I figured - hoped - the bear would not mess with our bicycles.  I went over the snowbank.  Before Ruby could climb over, the other guy still on the road called out that the bear - still a distance away - was now climbing over the snow bank.  What?!!  So I climbed over my snow bank and back to the road.   Then the bear did the same thing back to the road.

Oh great.  The bear apparently wants me.  We were about to continue on our bicycles back up the road when four more people rode up on their bicycles.  We told them the situation.  Before we all could continue riding away the bear went off the road again.  And it continued to walk away from the road.  So everyone took off riding down the road to get past the area where the bear was before the bear could change its mind and come back to the road.

Whew.  We made it.

Then it was about nine miles until we reached Ruby's car.  It was around 5:30 pm by the time we got back to her car.  Guess she won't be able to attend that meeting after all.

So it was a good time.  An adventurous time.  And the weather was good.



MacDonald Creek.





One time when we stopped to look at MacDonald Creek, we saw this bird on the other side of MacDonald Creek.











One time I made a mistake and accidently took a picture of my bicycle.






The tunnel.  Getting close to the Loop area.



Water was falling.  Ruby was hot from all the work from riding uphill.  So she stood in the falling water and got pretty wet.  That worked for her for the rest of the ride uphill.  Even though we spent time at the Loop, Ruby wasn't completely dry by the time we started back downhill.  So she was cold riding down the three mile section.   She warmed back up by the time we got back to her car.






Heavens Peak Mountain.




Heavens Peak mountain to the left of center.  To the right of center, at the end of the ridge is Heavens Peak lookout.   The trail to that lookout is long gone.  Back in 2009 my friend Gary and I bushwhacked our way and climbed up to that lookout, starting from close to where I took this photo.  https://tallpineshiker.blogspot.com/2010/09/heavans-peak-lookout.html




See the lookout on top?   The lookout was restored some years ago.  I haven't been back to the lookout since it was restored.



Looking up towards Logan Pass.



This was in the Loop's parking lot.  I have no idea what it is.



For now the Sun Road is closed to bicyclists and hikers at this point just above the Loop.  The Park is still clearing snow off the road up ahead.



A view of the Garden Wall.



Photos of the bear. I used my camera's zoom.  No way was I going to get close to this bear.





Here is a video of parts of our time in the Park.  2 minutes 38 seconds long:  https://youtu.be/ynMcE6FLuxs

Friday, July 26, 2019

Wild Horse Island

On July 26 I visited Wild Horse Island for a little under two hours.  The only way to get to this island is by boat.

http://stateparks.mt.gov/wild-horse-island

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Horse_Island

https://www.pbs.org/video/northwest-profiles-wild-horse-island/



At 2,160 acres, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake west of Minnesota. Wild Horse Island has been a landmark since the Kootenai Indians were reported to have used it to pasture horses to keep them from being stolen by other tribes.


I ended up hiking 2.1 miles.  My route is the blue line.



Skeeko Bay

Sailboats heading towards Skeeko Bay


Starting out clockwise on the blue loop I marked in the earlier map.

Very dry.

Old farm implement.  Why did anyone think they could farm on this island?

Starting on the right side of the first row of trees, count six or so trees towards the left.  The "dot" above the gap between two trees is a farm building pictured later.

View back to start of the loop.  (Note the hill on right side. Photo of it later below.)



Apparently the farmer even tried an orchard to make a go of farm life.


Protecting one of the orchard trees from the wildlife.

Not sure if the protection missing on one side is the cause the tree died, or they removed the one side after the tree died.

Rock fence?

Old rundown corral.

Farm buildings: barn (left) and house (right)

Barn

Barn

Hill on right side of earlier photo.

I didn't make it to the top of the hill as the white on left side of the lake is the boat arriving.

Another view of the boat arriving.  I better get a move on to get back to Skeeko Bay and the boat.

At Skeeko Bay.

After hiking on the island we circled the island by boat.   You may want to click on the photo and see an enlarged view in order to see the line of bighorn sheep.   In addition to the sheep there are a half dozen horses on the island.  And supposedly a bear and a mountain lion.   The building on the left side is one of many private residences grandfathered in when the island became a state park in 1977.   We are on the SE end of the island approximately where the earlier shown trail map has the words explaining that the circles are private properties.