Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Glacier National Park Adventures: Day One - Paddle on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

One of my BEST, and newest friends, Julie from Florida, wanted to come visit me.  I already had back to back visits planned with friends - one on a week long trip to Glacier National Park, and the other to meet another friend at Yellowstone for several days with one travel, sleep, wash day in between.

Since I pick my friends very carefully: they all have to be somewhat to entirely crazy - and ADD is a bonus - and they have to like birding, hiking, photography, camping and paddling - I know all my friends will like each other.  Julie ended up picking the Glacier trip since she had never been there and we were planning to do some moderate hikes and also were planning to go to Waterton Park in Canada.

But Julie is such a dedicated paddler and kayak fisherman, that she was feeling bereft without at least one paddle during her visit. So she arranged to meet me two days early and also rented a boat and a shuttle for us.  I brought up my canoe - I'm against rubber duckies, the only boats available  - and met her at the airport on the last possible flight at 11:33 P. M.  (She tried for 1:30 P and also for 5:30P.) We camped in Apgar Campground in Glacier, where I had already set up camp, and then got up early the following morning to find our outfitter and get on the river.

We put in on Middle Fork of the Flathead River, only yards below where the North Fork entered it and where Glacier National Park ended. We wanted to do a sixteen mile stretch,  putting in on Middle Glacier where it is still in Glacier NP, but our outfitter was SURE we could not get back by seven, when they closed, even though it was only ten when we  put it.  So we ended up not getting to do the purportedly most beautiful stretch and finished in a little over three hours of paddling.  We started playing a little more in the river when we realized we were almost finished and also took a long lunch hours a a few breaks, including stopping to visit with another boater, and a couple of people that rode ATV's down to the beach when we were stopped.  Our take-out was in Columbia Falls, just about a mile past where the South Fork joins the Middle Fork and becomes the Flathead River.

We had our outfitter take the picture at the put-in. 

Julie underway- you are seeing through clear water to colored boulders

View

I stopped here to empty the water out of my canoe after going through some tall haystacks

Julie could paddle standing up or sitting down

Side stream coming in with a waterfall

Another waterfall

The watcher - an osprey

Looking back at one of our stops

I ate the WHOLE awesome smoked duck pizza, while waiting for Julie's plane, and had to buy her another one.  She brought her leftovers for lunch and is warming them in on the ducky. 

So glad I hauled my canoe up here

Fall color is starting

Think this is a merganser duckling

Julie in my boat

The only other boater we saw.  He and Julie played in this stretch. 

Julie having fun

Beautiful rock formation

We paddled past a lock of rocky edges

I turned around to enjoy this view

Almost done

I think that's the take-out coming up

We got out so early, we were able to go shopping for groceries, and visit a couple of other places on the way back to turn in the rubber ducky. It was a wonderful day and could only have been better had it lasted longer.

The next morning we got up early and drove across the Going-to-the-Sun highway, with WAY too few stops, to get to Many Glaciers in time to save four camp sites for ourselves and the other five friends that would be arriving.  I will have been on it three times by the time I get home tonight and do have some pictures that will be on a blog on that stupendous drive. And we've visited other parts of the park, and taken one of the most beautiful hikes of my life.  But I'm already planning to meet my next guest as soon as I get home from this trip, so blogs will be sporadic until the end of the month. Too little Internet, adn too much playing make for a poor blogging.  This blog was written at the library in Whitefish, Montana after taking Julie to her plane. We hiked through new snow this morning after waking up to frost in our camp.