On Top of the Pass: Another gorgeous day in Glacier
After a passport snafu prevented us from going to Waterton, four gals ventured up to the top of Logan Pass for hike to Hidden Lake. The crowds, thankfully, were light, which might have been due to the morning rainy weather and socked-in clouds that we could see from the ridge line were blanketing the Flathead Valley area.
We left town at 5:30 a..m. and enjoyed a beautiful drive with the majestic Rocky Mountain Front following us to Browning.
Toni was our driver and she had never driven Going to the Sun road, but she was up for it in her little red new car! Luckily, we didn't hit road construction or have any issues along the way, so she had smooth sailing to the top of Logan Pass. On the way down, we were treated to her sunroof views.
At 9:30, we hit the Hidden Lake trail and enjoyed the many flowers: the magenta paintbrush, purple beardtongue/fuzzy tongue penstemon, yellow groundsel and pink spiraea. were particularly plentiful. But there may have been even more goats! We saw so many mamas with babies and some singles as well as yearlings both at the overlook, along the trail and down at the lake..
At the Hidden Lake Overlook, we also enjoyed watching some playful hoary marmots as they scampered among the rocks and ate the greenery.
After viewing the valley from the Overlook, we wandered a bit from the crowd to enjoy some views while we ate lunch. Then we started the steep ascent to the lake. The trail has many stair-steps that weren't kind to old knees, but we couldn't beat the view as we trekked into the valley with Bearhat, Clements, and Reynolds mountains looming around us while the sparkling waterfalls and deep teal blue lake beckoned us to keep going down.
We noticed that many people were speaking foreign languages, showing how popular Logan Pass is as a tourist destination. And we marveled at how quickly the 20-30-year olds managed to get to the lake.
At the bottom of the valley, we relaxed and ate the rest of our food. Susan and Katie did a bit of bushwacking to reach a rocky point that juts out into the lake that Susan had seen from above at the overlook. While off trail both Katie and Susan were surprised by goats that wouldn't yield, causing them to be much too close for comfort. they also thought they were all alone in this remote area of the lake shore, but found a family with a three-year-old girl who had done the bushwack too and had gone even farther around the lake, making them realize the effort of climbing up rocks, over tree trunks and through bushes wasn't much after all.
After Katie and Susan got back, the group headed back up the mountain, again facing the stair-step rocks. We actually climbed up faster than we descended, making it in just over an hour. But then we had to go back down to the visitor center area.
We arrived at the car at 4:30 and then drove over the pass to the west side, stopping for dinner at the Belton Chalet. Toni was hungry for a burger but the closest they had was meatloaf. Were we surprised to see the "elegant" meatloaf adorned with edible flowers that actually tasted wonderful, if a bit spicy. We were informed that they were baby marigolds. And as we drove away, we saw a gal from the restaurant in the flower garden picking buds. We all agreed that the specialty breads (an appetizer) with the herbed butter and goat cheese were the best. We had three orders!
On the way home, we had one more goat surprise: in the cut before the goat lick, about 30 goats were grazing. What an amazing day.
Who went: Susan, Gail, Toni, Katie
Mountain Goat Study Begins at Logan Pass
Date: September 16, 2013
Contact: Denise Germann, 406 888-5838
Contact: Jennifer Lutman, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park, in partnership with the University of Montana, has begun a three-year research study on how mountain goats are affected by roads, people and trails in the Logan Pass area. Currently, six mountain goats have been successfully collared by National Park Service staff, University of Montana researchers, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks personnel with GPS or VHF radio devices. Collaring efforts will continue through the fall as weather permits. It is anticipated approximately 20-25 goats will be collared of the estimated 1,500 goats in the park.
Data collected from collared goats will provide information on the animal's use of Logan Pass and adjacent areas, as well as movement on the landscape throughout the year. Collars will remain on the goats for three years at which point a mechanism will release allowing the collar to fall to the ground. The collar will then be retrieved by researchers. The use of the release mechanism means that goats will only be handled once.
The study also incorporates observational, temporary marking, and visitor messaging techniques. Researchers will spend time observing and recording human-goat interactions. Informational signs about human-goat interactions will be placed in the Logan Pass area. A few goats that will not be able to be collared may be temporarily marked to enable a researcher to visually distinguish between individual goats.
Research on bighorn sheep will be conducted simultaneously, with observational, temporary marking, and visitor messaging techniques. No collars will be placed on bighorn sheep, as individual sheep are easier to identify due to unique horn variations.
The research is a critical component of the current Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management planning effort, as human-wildlife interactions within the corridor are an identified issue of concern. Interactions between humans and goats are increasing in the Logan Pass area, creating potential unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, "Mountain goats are an icon of Glacier National Park and the information gathered from this study will play a valuable role in future management decisions. Ensuring the safety of both mountain goats and staff conducting research is our top priority with this project."