SWEET VIRGINIA

 

 

Sunday was a recovery day.We slept in, before dining on pancakes and eggs.Then we headed over to the Rising Sun camp store to take showers.The showers there are a bargain, as each token costs $1.25 but lasts 8 minutes.Unfortunately, there is exactly one shower stall for men and one for women.Luckily, there was only one person waiting in front of me when we arrived.Iím not saying that the bathroom was cramped, but there was just barely enough room for the two of us to wait inside.

 

Afterwards, I was waiting for Christy, and I watched a whole herd of teenage girls coming out of the womenís shower.Well, I suppose herd isnít really the right word.What do you call a large group of teenage girls?How about a gaggle?No, I think thatís geese.A giggle?Yes, that sounds better.It was a whole giggle of teenage girls.Every time the door opened, I looked over, expecting to see Christy.Instead, it would be another teenage girl.Where were they coming from?They mustíve been standing on the toilets in there.

 

Every one of them was dressed up, too.It struck me as being a little odd, being at a campground in remote national park.Later, I finally remembered that it was Sunday morning.They mustíve been on their way to church.

 

Christy finally emerged, and we drove to East Glacier.On the way, we noticed that we picked the right day to skip hiking.It was the hottest day of our trip, and the smoke and haze were awful, especially around Two Medicine.Later, when we returned, the Two Medicine area was a little clearer, but the St. Mary valley was completely obscured.

 

We reached East Glacier just after noon.Unfortunately, the Mexican restaurant there isnít open for lunch.We settled for burgers at the Glacier Village Restaurant, which was ok.Then, we drove over to the A Frame Laundry.I did two loads of laundry there, and was thrilled to find that the dryers were very effective.While I watched the laundry, Christy drove to the IGA in Browning to get groceries.

 

Once we finished our errands, we headed back to Rising Sun.We got back at 5, only to find several deer browsing through our campsite.After watching them for a bit, I decided to take a short hike after all.My plan was to visit Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls, and Virginia Falls.All three waterfalls are located around St. Mary Lake, and the trails to them are easy.Christy wasnít interested, but offered to drop me off at the trailhead at Sun Point.From there, Iíd hike to Virginia Falls before returning to the Going to the Sun Road, where I could pick up the free shuttle bus.I told Christy after she dropped me off to come looking for me if I wasnít back by dark.At that point, I didnít have enough confidence in the shuttle system to assume that Iíd make it back without any problems.

 

I left Sun Point at 5:30, and a quick, easy hike brought me to Baring Falls.Baring Falls is located at the base of Sunrift Gorge, just above St. Mary Lake.Although itís not the tallest waterfall around, itís quite scenic.I spent some time taking photos here, as it was late enough in the day for good lighting.Unfortunately it was windy, which created enough spray to make the photography challenging.

 

I saw a handful of people at Baring Falls, but hardly anyone on the trail beyond.I passed several junctions, including a trail out to the bus stop on the Sun Road.From there, easy walking brought me to a bridge over the St. Mary River just below St.Mary Falls.This waterfall is a two-tiered beauty, and it was probably my favorite waterfall on this trip.

 

The timing of my visit was perfect.When I reached the falls, a brilliant red sun, enflamed by the smoke from nearby forest fires, was setting just above the falls.I couldnít believe my luck.By the time I finished taking photos, I knew I needed to hurry to finish my hike before dark.

 

I hurried on, reaching Virginia Creek a few minutes later.I passed a long series of scenic cascades, but resisted the urge to photograph them, too.Instead I pushed on, and reached a junction with a side trail to Virginia Falls a few minutes later.After a modest climb, I reached a split in the trail.Initially I took the lower trail, which led out to a view of Virginia Falls.Virginia Falls is on a fairly small stream, but itís the highest of the three waterfalls I visited on this hike.

 

From there, I backtracked and then hiked to the higher overlook.This viewpoint is right at the base of the falls.Initially I thought I would be too close for photos, but I was able to come up with a few interesting shots by isolating the bottom of the falls.

 

I left Virginia Falls at 7:30 and raced back.I covered the 1.8 miles back to the bus stop in 30 minutes.Unfortunately, my haste was a waste.I was almost at the trailhead when I heard a bus pulling away.Unfortunately, it was the one heading east.I ended up having to wait a full 30 minutes for the next one.Fortunately, when it arrived, it was mostly empty.

 

We were almost back to Rising Sun when I saw a white Jeep Liberty that looked just like our rental heading the other way.It was only 8:45, which was a good 30 minutes before dark.Apparently though, Christy decided to head out early.Once I got off the bus, I hurried back to camp, but there was no sign of Christy or the car.I settled in to wait, knowing Iíd be in trouble when she got back.

 

We had a late dinner that night, but went to bed early.We had a 17 mile hike planned for the next day, and an early start would be critical.




Continue reading about our trip to Glacier National Park in the summer of 2007 as we hike to Dawson and Pitamakan Passes in the Two Medicine section of the park.

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