Cherries, Bear Spray and Glacier National Park: Arlee to Coram, MT

 

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Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

                               “The real act of discovery consists not of finding new lands,                                             but in seeing with new eyes.”

 ~Marcel Proust

For those of us living in New England, cherry season is short, sweet and imported from the west. Little did I know that the route from Arlee to Glacier followed the eastern shores of Flathead Lake, where sweet cherry orchards abound because of the perfect combination of soil, water and climate.

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The cherry trees are planted closely together, so when driving by the orchards tightly hugging the shores of the lake, it’s difficult to see that they are actually filled with fruit. Stopping at a stand as soon as an easy pull-off appeared, I had a chance to talk with Kevin, as he bagged up a pound of just picked cherries. Kevin lives in Los Angeles, and comes up every summer to help with his grand-parents’s cherry orchard. He’s a freshman in high school and is the only one of his three siblings that likes to spend his summers in Montana, away from the city. He wants to join the Marines when he graduates, and while he loves working in the orchard during his summers, he’s interested in seeing the world.

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Continuing north to Corman,  I settled into a campground 7 miles from the entrance to Glacier- family run, wooded spacious sites, very laid back, and some wonderful fellow campers. Deciding to stay for a few days, I pitched my REI canopy, did laundry and cleaned out the camper, all for the first time since being on the road for over a week….
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Aliners and Airstreams seem to bond, and I made a lovely connection with a family from Salt Lake City camping in a 28 foot Airstream. There was so much conversation and sharing going on, that sadly I neglected to take any pictures. They were kind and concerned about me camping on my own, and gave me a can of bear spray when we parted ways, instructing me on its use both for bears and other potential personal safety needs… the kindness of strangers. I hope our paths cross again….

“Going to the Sun” is the only road through the park, traveling west to east. Its an engineering masterpiece, allowing travelers to view the phenomenal beauty of the park by car.

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Driving the road took the better part of a day, required full attention, and pulling over was not often an option, so photos are a limited:

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The power of ice and time. An intense landscape carved over tens of thousands of years. The glaciers are still receding, now hurried along by global warming. What glaciers are visible presently, are many times smaller than when the park was first established, and diminishing daily.

While I’m not sure about Bella’s enthusiasm about glaciers, we did stop to view this one, and did a photo-taking swap with a fellow visitor:

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While not as crowded as Yellowstone, there were still many, many people enjoying the park. Visitor center parking lots were crowded, campgrounds were all filled. Patience was needed to have a turn at viewing points. Even though hiking was not an option with Bella, I still noticed trailheads filled with cars. Regardless, feelings of spaciousness and beauty were the predominant experiences…. with cherries awaiting when we got back to our campsite.

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