While a drive on Going to the Sun Road is a great introduction to Glacier, the way to truly experience this awe-inspiring landscape is by hiking.
We started with some easy stuff, rising very early one morning and driving around the south end of the park. By eight A.M. we reached our first stop, a delightfully deserted place called Running Eagle Falls. There's nothing quite like complete solitude beside a lovely waterfall and a cold, swift-running mountain stream.
Next up was the southeast entrance to the park and Two Medicine Lake. I never found an explanation for the origin of this interesting name, but I got a possible clue when I looked at the reflection in the lake in one of my photos.
We hiked up to an overlook of the lake called Aster Park, stopping to view Aster Falls on the way. We were still early enough to have a quiet moment beside the lake and time for viewing the falls alone, before other hikers came along.
Our second hike in the park was a very popular trail along Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Lake. Again, an early start helped us beat the rush.
Avalanche Creek has to be one of the most beautiful streams I've ever seen. Over millions of years, the water has carved fascinating shapes into the rocks forming the mini-canyon where it flows. The water of the creek is a crystal-clear turquoise, a perfect contrast to the magenta-colored stone walls, the forest-green ferns, and the yellow-green lichens growing above.
The end of the trail was Avalanche Lake, not quite as picturesque as its namesake tributary. Along the trail to the lake we passed through a marvelous old-growth cedar forest, where a friendly doe appeared ahead of us on the trail, walked calmly toward us, and passed within five feet before strolling away into the forest.