Big Sky Country
There is a reason they call Montana the Big Sky state. The world just seems larger here. Mountains may soar almost 10,000’ above you, but you don’t feel confined. The sky seems to go on forever and the expansiveness of the scenery diminishes your own tiny space within its context. The air is fresh, smells of fresh pine, and is filled with delicate white puffs, blowing all around in an almost bubble-like fashion. It’s from the Cottonwood trees and I can’t decide if it annoys or delights me.
We are in Whitefish, on the edge of Glacier National Park. This week marks the beginning of the short three-month summer season in this part of the world. In fact, snow still covers many of the Park’s roads, making passage across the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road impossible. (I was relieved I had an excuse to avoid this spectacular but terrifying route. No lover of heights, I found it frightening years ago).
This past winter saw record snowfalls – but don’t be comforted, the glaciers are still disappearing at an alarming rate and by 2020-2030, it is predicted they will be completely gone.
More than 20 years ago we stayed at the historic Many Glacier Hotel in the park which has just completed a 17-year-long renovation we would love to see. Because current road conditions will require us to drive around the outside perimeter of the park for several hours we may not have time. We have come to Montana to celebrate the wedding of our good friend’s daughter – so we have some important priorities.
We took a shorter route into the park and visited the smaller Lake McDonald Lodge. We enjoyed a lovely lunch (with smoked Steelhead trout!), watched prairie dogs waiting for handouts (very bad idea to feed the wildlife), and enjoyed the vistas along the open portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We worked off lunch with a nice walk in the cedar woods, complete with a fawn leaping across the path ahead of us.