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Timeless wonders

I looked out the window on the third morning of our trip to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park.  Swiftcurrent Lake was smooth as glass mirroring the mountains which seemed to rise directly from the water.  In the distance, the Grinnell Glacier was visible high in the mountain.  

After spending two days in the city of Calgary, Canada we traveled to the Many Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park.  This trip south into Montana allowed us to see the prairie that makes the province of Alberta the breadbasket of Canada.  Alberta is also the home to most of Canada’s beef and oil production.

Many Glacier Lodge was completed in 1915 and was built by the Great Northern Railroad to encourage travel into the newly created park.  Like most of the old national park lodges it is rustic, with no television, air conditioning and very poor internet connectivity.  All of which combines to make it a great place to reconnect with nature.

While the dry conditions and higher than normal temperatures have made wildlife sightings less frequent, we saw two bear cubs following Mama Bear along the river shortly after we entered the park.

The first evening we watched the sun set behind the mountains, leaving a bright aura along the horizon.  45 minutes later, we went to bed with the sky still illuminated by the setting sun.

The single way to cool the room was an ancient fan probably a few years older than I am.  The windows were up and the door to the outside could be left open if you felt confident that the old screen door would protect you from inquisitive (or hungry) critters.

We hiked up to another lake fed by glaciers that was only accessible by foot.  A small boat operated by the National Park Service gave us a tour of Lake Josephine.  The boat dates to 1961 and is stored in a boathouse the seven months of the year that the hotel is closed.

The boat guide must carry the diesel fuel required each day, usually about seven gallons, up and down over the trail each day.

The next day was spent traveling along the Sun Road in 1936 “Red Jammers”.  These are the original buses that were purchased by the Park Service from the White Motor Company.  The Ford Motor Company refurbished the original buses between 1999 and 2002 at a cost of $6.5 Million.  33 of the 35 buses originally purchased by the NPS are still in use today.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses the Continental Divide at an altitude higher than the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains.  Some peaks of over 10,000 feet are observed along the breathtaking drive, along with numerous waterfalls and steep descents at the edge of the road that will cause anxiety in anyone with the slightest fear of heights.

The fourth night was spent at Lake McDonald Lodge, along the shoreline of Lake McDonald.  Even older than Many Glacier Lodge, the restaurant served up a delicious meal and we climbed to our third-floor room (no elevators) only to sleep like a baby in the cool mountain air.

Today, we crossed back into Canada and are making our way to Lake Louise and its world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  We remain in Canada for another week, enjoying the sheer beauty that nature is providing at every turn.  Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but neither do justice to the awesome mountains, active glaciers, and spectacular waterfalls that are just a part of the timeless wonder of the Canadian Rockies.


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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