Glacier National Park 2019

Arriving on Tuesday September 17, from as far away as Boston, Houston, and North Carolina, a contingent of Class of ’72 stalwarts gathered at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in the town of Whitefish, in Montana’s northwest quadrant, our first-night assembly point for our latest Class Trip, this time to fabled Glacier National Park. We were 75-strong, counting classmates, spouses, significant others, friends/colleagues, family members, and a Class Associate. 

Next morning, wrapped against the morning mist and chill,  we embarked on a stately float / raft trip along a stretch of the Middle Branch of the Flathead River, marking the southwest border of the Park, after which our luggage joined us at the town of East Glacier and the majestic, historic, baronial Glacier Park Lodge (1913), on the Park’s southeastern edge, our base for the next three days.

On Thursday and again on Saturday, we broke into three hiking groups, sorting ourselves by appetite, ability and ambition: Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous.  Traveling in vans to various trail heads, led by cheerful, encouraging local guides, we trekked to many of the Park’s renowned attractions, including Saint Mary Lake and Falls, Virginia Falls, Two Medicine Lake, Running Eagle Falls, Many Glaciers, and Logan Pass.  The trails were superb and we marveled at the expansive vistas and the tints of  emerging fall color.  

On Friday we ranged further, bundled up and comfortably conveyed in five mid-20th-century buses (called the “Red Buses”, but to our eyes undeniably “Orange Buses”), topping out at Logan Pass where roadwork and fog ended that day’s progress along the Going-to-The-Sun Road which traverses the Park. Each of the five buses was driven by a superbly knowledgeable guide whose command of local lore — from geology to Blackfoot Indian legends to flora and fauna — was astounding. Above and around us, viewed through folded-up canvas rooftops, loomed massive mountain ranges, moraines,  peaks and arêtes; zones of past and recent forest fires, and occasional glimpses of high-ranging wildlife and increasingly rare glaciers. 

Friday evening, back in East Glacier, we were treated to a delicious western BBQ and a fascinating talk given by the Park’s very impressive superintendent, Jeff Mow, a career-long veteran of several decades of parks management throughout the western U.S. and Alaska. (Thanks to Ray DuBois for arranging for Jeff to meet us and for delivering a superb introduction). Jeff's insights and perspectives were invaluable, ranging from forest-fire control to relations with the Park’s Native American neighbors. On Saturday, after our grand-finale dinner at the Glacier Park Lodge’s Moccasin Room, decorated in ever-tasteful orange and black, a fete that resounded with Locomotives and Old Nassau, we readied for departure on Sunday.  

Merc picks up the thread:

 

Most of us were scheduled from the airport in Kalispell, southwest of the Park. We bid our farewells, packed into two buses to wind our way to the airport.  The first bus pulled away and the second bus  promptly shut off.  Multiple attempts to restart failed; the only thing running was classmate anxiety.  One final option—rolling the bus backward to jump start in reverse! Back we rolled, the bus shuttered, restarted—Hooray!—then backed into a tree and shut off.  Plan B was scramble--find any wheels.   Barclay Foord heroically attempted to fix the bus by re-attaching a loosened power cable—making it possible to arc across the terminals and start the bus, but not from starter.   

How many travel-anxious classmates will trust a wounded bus?

None.

Alternate transportation arrived; the airport hegira began. To the sounds of relieved cheering, the near-stranded departed the Glacier Park Lodge with its new driveway ornament idling against a tree. —  Despite this last-minute hiccup, all of us resolved to spread the word about Glacier Park’s majesty, to visit the Park again, and to travel with 1972 on future congenial journeys. 

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In attendance at Glacier Park were:
Russ and Kathy Ayres, Larry and Carol Barbour, Rock and Melanie Brockman, Bruce and Janet Buchanan, John Callison, Bob Daniels and Nancy Allen, Stephen and Phyllis Dartt, Andy and Ellie Dayton, Ray and Helen DuBois, Bruce and Lynn Elwell, Daryl English and Barclay Foord, Burcham and Alicia Fuqua,  Chris Godfrey and Suzy Sayle, Wally and Natalie Good, Jesse Hackell and Judy Esterow, Rick and Christine Hammitt, Saralinda Hooker ’73 (widow of Christopher Ragus), Tom Hoster and Joan Zwiep, Tim and Patty Howard, Grif and Alix Johnson, Charlie and Marie Kireker, Charlie Kohl and Philio Cushing, Silas Kopf, Holly Lovejoy, Mary Lovejoy (Holly’s sister), John Whistler (Mary Lovejoy ’s husband), Locke and Joy McKenzie, Rod and Pat McNealy, Nikos Monoyios and Valerie Brackett, Merc Morris and Ginny Boyle, Andy Packer and
Peggy Drew, Jim and Chris (H) Robinson, Mike and Isabel Schneider, Tom Schrader, John and Cindy Solic, Mike and Toni Stoll, Ed and Anne Strauss, Randy and Lisa Swenson, Judith White and Syd Nathans, Andrew Wilson and Ronnie-Gail Emden ’74, Bob and Sallie Wright.
 
Photos here.