Run to the Hills 2012 – Day 3 (July 21, 2012)

July 21, 2012 – This was by far the best day of the trip – it was the partial circumnavigation of the south edge of Glacier National Park in the US, followed by doing the Going-to-the-Sun highway west to east through the more northerly part of the park. I also managed to get some culture in during the evening!

Most of the VStrom guys were looking for some more adventure today and one of the guys had identified a long stretch of gravel road up in the mountains. So most of the crew went that-away. Trent and I were the only ones going south – one of other guys wanted to come with us, but hasn’t got a passport which he needed to cross the border.

So by about 930am or so, Trent and I had entered the US at the Chief Mountain Border Crossing.

We were going to stop first at St. Mary for gas, then head south on Highways 89 and 49. It looked really twisty on the maps and I had heard that the road and views were pretty scenic. We’d hit US Highway 2 which runs along the south edge of the park, before heading back up north to West Glacier and western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Highway and Logan Pass.

Most of the road south from St. Mary was nothing special, but when we turned onto Highway 49, I began to suspect that it might be pretty cool. There was very little traffic on the road and so where it was open I used the whole road to crank through the twisties, until I popped up over what I thought was a little rise while in the middle of the road to suddenly see pickup truck coming right for me! Yikes – I cranked the FJR over to the right hard to get back over onto my lane, and decided to slow it down a bit for the rest of the way. We stopped at a scenic overlook for a drink of water and some pictures.

I had managed to get my GoPro camera working for the run over Highway 49 and I managed to get some pretty cool video, once I have it edited, I’ll post a sample.

We carried on, eventually reaching the freeway, Highway 2, that runs around the south side of the park. We did a quick stop for a bio break, otherwise we carried on …

… eventually stopping for lunch at the West Glacier Restaurant.

One of the things that really struck me on this particular day was not being able to talk to the person I was riding with, while riding. Trent and I, obviously talked lots while stopped for lunch or whatever, but since Trent doesn’t have radio or Bluetooth comms, there was no talking. I really missed talking to Louise and I actually felt a little lonely and sad that I wasn’t riding with her.

Stopping at the gas station in West Glacier, dodging RVs and other forms of tourists, we fueled up and headed back in to the park proper, rolling thorough the Park Gates east towards Logan Pass.

Trent and I stopped at Bird Woman Falls to take a few pictures …

The next stop was at the Logan Pass Visitors Center. The weather, while still sunny, wasn’t as nice up here as it was lower down. The wind was blowing and it was a bit chilly. We did a quick wander about, then went back to the bikes and carried on.

We made it back to the campsite around 430pm after an uneventful return from the US. Since we were staying at the Crooked Creek Campground, I went off in search of the crooked creek. I found it. Small, and likely pretty crooked …

And now for the cultural experience – while in town the other days getting supplies, I had noticed a sign advertising a musical event …
… A celtic music festival! In Waternon! Excellent!
Since it started at 7pm, I figured I’d roll into town for about 6pm, get some dinner, then head over to the church. I had an excellent lasagna at a little restaurant in Waterton served up by a rather indifferent waitress, then rode over to the church. Paid my $10 and walked into a full house! And the band had already started in on the first song, so I just took a chair at the back of the church and enjoyed the music. Since I was in my motorcycle jacket, boots, and carrying my helmet – in a small town – I really stood out and almost everyone in the audience turned to watch me as I slid my helmet under the chair and sat down. Thankfully the band didn’t miss a note.

The players were pretty good, a bit rough in places, but the fellow on the acoustic guitar was really really good and I enjoyed watching him play. I stayed to end, took a couple of pictures …
and some video, then zoomed back to the campsite. Some of the guys were a little nonplussed at my cultural and musical tastes, but since I like being eclectic and eccentric, it all fit.

Drinking beer then ensued.

Since some were drinking rum and stuff, there was some laughter, loud laughter and such. So much such, that the campground manager came by to ask us to tone it down – at 10pm! What! Apparently, there are some Pincher Creek, Milk River and Fort Macleod residents who have semi-permanent sites at this campground and we were disturbing their peace. So we toned it down a bit and revelry continued on till after midnight.

This had been a great day, great riding and roads, excellent company, some celtic music, capped off with drinking Alexander Keiths Pale Ale with fellow riding buddies, swapping stories and telling lies. Great fun. Too bad I had to head home the next day.

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