I married a West Virginia girl. She loves her Appalachian mountains, and I’ve learned that she loves water — lakes and streams and waterfalls, especially the music of rushing water. Since we’ve been in the vicinity of Glacier I’d shown her Flathead Lake and the Flathead River, Lake McDonald and Kintla Lake and Kintla Creek.
Today, I decided, it was time to take her a little deeper into these mountains and show her a few more of my favorite places.
This turned out to be the clearest day we’ve had so far. We drove up the Going-to-The-Sun Road, stopping first at Lake McDonald Lodge again to check out the view under today’s crystal-blue skies. Running farther up past the head of the lake, we pulled off near McDonald Falls and the path the creek carves through the rock.
Then it was on to Avalanche Creek — usually a high-traffic area, jammed with visitors. This afternoon we circled the parking lot twice before a spot opened up for us. Grabbing our picnic lunch, we crossed back over the road and walked down to the bank of McDonald Creek, where the crowd was thick.
I took Deb’s hand and said, “C’mon, I know the perfect place.” We made our way several hundred yards upstream along the shoals to the confluence of Avalanche Creek and McDonald Creek.
I knelt down and put my hand into the water where the streams come together — cold, colder than you can imagine.
We looked up at the mountains of Glacier towering over us. We listened as the water sang to us.
And we were alone. We ate our lunch in peace, in Nature’s cathedral, just the two of us.
Most tourists never make it that far. They follow the signs, pull off the road, snap a few pictures, get back into their Belchfire Eight and drive on. That’s a shame, because the best is only a short walk away.
On our way back down the lake we turned onto the narrow park road that leads to the McDonald backcountry. We crossed the one-lane bridge over McDonald Creek, parked the Jeep and scrambled down the bank.
After working our way downstream, using roots and branches as handholds, we came to the head of the lake — the spot where McDonald Creek become Lake McDonald, another vantage point that few people make an effort to reach.
We had ourselves one helluva day. It ended with friends — one of my high-school classmates and her husband came over from Idaho to spend a couple of days with us here. Good times, good beer, good food.
We are indeed fortunate.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.