2015-07-20 - MT - Day 54 - St Mary to Apgar
This was the day many of us had been waiting for: the bike ride on the Going-To-The-Sun Highway from Saint Mary to Apgar campgrounds. After breakfast, I rode with some others alongside Saint Mary Lake, the second largest lake in the park, to one of the most photographed spots in the world: the Goose Island Overlook. From that point, the tiny island down below serves to emphasize the large size of the lake.
About thirteen miles out from Saint Mary, I stopped to hike to some waterfalls on my own. Luckily I was invited by three fabulous ladies heading the same way to join them. I had a great time talking with them about foreign countries, organic farming, and going barefoot. The whirling waters of Saint Mary's Falls were picturesque, but another 0.7 miles away, the crushing, pounding force of Virginia Falls was much more impressive. You could see and feel the shock waves as water droplets were blasted towards you.
The last seven miles of cycling up to Logan Pass did not disappoint either. Mountains and valleys folded into the land. Wild flowers spread over the grassy mountainsides as cascading water streamed down staircase ledges and wall chutes. Not long after a massive set of switchbacks and the eastern tunnel, I arrive at the pass.
After stopping by the visitor's center, I found Zach and Catherine by their bikes. We hiked together to the Hidden Lake Overlook, passing by vistas interwoven with flowers, rocks, trees, and mountain goats. Though beautiful, I did not find the hike breathtaking. At the overlook, Catherine decided to hike on while Zach and I turned back. I decided to trail run the rest of the mostly-downhill way back.
From Logan's Pass I sped down the opposite side of the continental divide along a twisting road, pelted by freezing rain and braking behind cars. The road eventually smoothed out to a more gradual downward slope punctuated by hilly ups and downs which led me to the start of the Trail of Cedars. The trail gives access to the continent's easternmost Pacific coast rainforest (not coincidentally also the easternmost habitat for these trees). I walked the mile loop around the wheelchair-friendly boardwalk among thousand-year-old red cedars and western hemlocks, a lush undergrowth of ferns and mosses blooming below.
That was my last hike of the day. I cycled to Lake McDonald for dinner and then rode with Reed, Alex, and Nils back to camp at the southern end of the same lake, the largest in the park. Brian and I prepared for the next day. We were the only ones staying an extra day to do some hiking in the park.