There is currently a big discussion in the New Age Movement related to the laws of attraction. The basic premise is this. Think about what you want and need and block out all other negativity. Put out positive vibes and the world will return to you what you project to it. Books like “The Secret” have popularized this idea and tree hugging hippies everywhere are taking notice. Now those of you who really know me, understand that I am a deeply undercover hippie. With that said the following actually took place on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012.
For those of you who have been following the blog, you may have heard me begging mother nature for a good thunderstorm. I love storms and I always wanted to watch a storm coming across the great plains or through the mountains. Several times on this trip, the skies darkened and I thought to myself “here we go”, but it always fizzled out.Undaunted I continued to put my wishes out there to the rain gods.
Now, back to the Going to the Sun Road. You read all about this road in part I. The road connects the east side of the park to the west side and is the only way to cross between the two inside the park. The highest point on the road is at Logan Pass which is about 7000 feet. The alpine section is the most extreme part of the route. Drop off’s of thousands of feet and sheer rock faces line this entire section.
As we crossed the alpine section from east to west, I distinctly remember thinking to myself (and God) the following. “This is freaking gorgeous , but forget everything the I ever said about thunderstorms. Now is not the time”! We continued with safe passage to the west side and met with our outfitter in West Glacier to set up our shuttle for our Kayak trip on Saturday.
On our return trip we stopped at the Lake McDonald Lodge for a meal of elk bratwurst and chicken fingers before making our ascent once again. We were driving the jeep and had the top down. The weather was good so we did not bother putting it up when we parked for lunch. This is a popular lodge so parking was hard to come by and we were forced to park a good distance from the Restaurant. I am sure you know where this is going by now. Before our meal even arrived Colby looked out the window and commented on the fact that it had started raining. Really Raining. Like Biblical Rain!!! As my fat ass jumped up and ran towards the parking lot, I knocked over two small children and drew the attention of the entire luncheon crowd. I was running through the restaurant.
.Not walking fast. Not Fast Walking, Not even jogging, but full on sprinting. Visions of my new Nikon camera on the front seat, my GPS, on the dashboard, both of our cell phones in the cup holders danced before my eyes. Truth be told, sprinting is not something that I do well. Sure If I had to catch a three towed Sloth, I could probably do it, but this was more like chasing an Antelope. The harder I ran, the further the car got away from me. I finally reached the Jeep just at the skies stopped dumping their furry into my car. The damage was done. Everything was soaked. There were puddles on the floor and in the cell phone filled cup holders. So what to do? Well there was only one thing to do. Close the top, hyperventilate in the wet drivers seat and try to compose myself before returning to the restaurant. Soaking wet, I squished my way back through the dining room amid stares of horror and awe. My own family knew better than to comment on my condition. I happily ate my elk and looked forward to a warm shower back at our RV.
When we left the restaurant the skies had cleared so much that the sun was once again shining. We put the top back down in hopes of drying out the jeep and headed back east on the Going to the Sun Road. Just as we were approaching the beginning of the alpine section, the skies went dark once again. Dark skies come and go around here. Usually without rain.
So we pressed on. A few miles later a soft rain started and at Kristi’s insistence, we pulled over and put the top up. Personally, I thought that we could out run the drops, but I was overruled. The soft rain gave way to hard rain which gave way to hail. Cars were pulled over and stopped all along the road. They however were not experienced alpine adventurers driving a mighty steed like we were! We pressed on past the tourist. We pressed on past the pickup trucks. We pressed on past the tour busses stopped dead in their tracks. We pressed on until we reached the absolute worst part of the road where the storm reached its absolute worst vengeance. At this juncture the water was flowing off the mountains and down the road so fast that I was worried that it would literally float the jeep away and dump us over the 3000 foot precipice. I have crossed rivers 3 feet deep in this jeep, but if water is flowing fast enough 3 inches is all that it takes to wash you away. I quickly realized that the water was flowing almost fast enough to do exactly that. I made the mental calculation that we needed to turn around fast and head back down the mountain. Just as I did the road in front of us began to disappear. The mountain had created a rock slide that completely covered the road not 20 feet from where we were driving. While executing our retreat we began to feel what we thought was huge hail stones hitting the soft top of the jeep. When the loud thuds began to hit our wheels and body we soon realized that this was not hail.
We were in the middle of a rock slide. Luckily none of the rocks penetrated our canvas roof. We booked ass down the mountain to the tunnel in the picture. In the pictures, you can see the rocks covering the road that we had to dodge on our way to safety.
Shaken and stirred, we returned to the safety of Lake McDonald Lodge. There was one Jammer who was caught with us when the sh!t hit the fan. Jammers are the red tour vehicles that criss cross the park priding themselves on being unstoppable. This driver was clearly messed up. I would be too if I had the lives of 15 guests hanging in the balance. I was a mental mess and so was he. This was a man well into his 60’s who has been driving this road for a long time and he told me that he had never seen anything like that. He was kind enough to give me directions around the perimeter of the park and back to our campground. Albeit 3 hours more!
The next morning we talked to several rangers who told us that there had not been a storm of that magnitude on the mountain in many years. The Going to the Sun Road had sustained severe damage and would be closed indefinitely. Several people were stranded on the pass just after where we turned around. A few cars and a tour bus sustained serious damage, but no one died during the event.
At least I finally got the thunderstorm that I had been hoping for!!! To continue reading about Glacier click here