Cycling Adventure in Glacier National Park – Hikers, Bikers, and Bears!

While plowing progresses on the upper reaches of The Going to the Sun Road, vehicular traffic is stopped at Avalanche. This leaves the road to hikers, bikers and bears!” 

This having been my first bike ride on the Going to the Sun Road, I wasn’t sure what to expect as the road can be deceptively flat around the shores of Lake McDonald and Avalanche Creek. Having hiked this area of the Sun Road numerous times in the off season, I am fully aware of its gradual incline. How would this challenge my cycling skills? I was about to find out.

With much of the road being closed to vehicles, it was a perfect day for a bike ride.  Sunny skies and warm temps brought out others to explore Glacier Park and enjoy the outdoors.

Warning signs were posted of avalanche danger as we rode to a favorite spot – Swim Hole. It’s a gorgeous stop on the road where swimmers take refuge from summer heat.

Rapids running into the area called “Swim Hole”.

 

I didn’t have a clue where we would end our ride until a family of cyclists rode past and a kid exclaimed that he had gotten to ride through the tunnel.At this point, we were only about a mile out and the biking wasn’t too difficult. I peddled steadily ahead.

“Wow”, I yelled back and started to envision the relentless climb to the West Tunnel.

When I saw the turn off to Packers Roost, I knew my fun was over. E had already taken off ahead of us while Mallory lagged behind. She complained of the difficulty but eventually rode ahead of David and me. This is when David and I began our starting – and stopping – and – starting – and – stopping…all the way to the tunnel.

 

The tunnel on the Going to the Sun Road.

I relaxed and saw the surroundings of the tunnel from a new perspective. Usually an observer from a vehicle, this time I could feel the spray of the waterfall and look through the arches at Heaven’s Peak.With persistence and some talking to myself, I arrived at the tunnel – with relief. M and E were drenched from head to toe, as they had taken a waterfall shower at the other end of the tunnel. Obviously their tolerance to cold is higher than mine, because the water was absolutely FREEZING!

 

Heaven’s Peak as seen through arch at the west side tunnel

 

After a good rest, we got back on our bikes. Little did I know what fun was in store for me. The thrilling combination of speed and fear is somewhat indescribable. No peddling necessary. I zoomed down the road like a race car, braking at intervals for fear of doing a Curious George.

AVALANCHE DANGER – I heard the cracking of snow as I sped by.

As the road leveled out, I called to David to make a pit stop. My gears were whacked up and I wanted his help. He took out his multi-tool and fixed it, or made it ride-able, to say the least.  M and E had already ridden out of sight at this point.

As David and I approached a family tinkering on the side of the road with a tag along that had a flat, M and E came riding up the road, hollering.

“There’s a bear down the road,” they shouted. They had had a very close encounter with what they thought was a cub and were scared that a mother might be nearby. Acting like Marty Stouffer, they had shot video and stills and wanted to tell their story and have us see the bear too.

Eileen’s photo capture of the black bear.

To everyone’s disappointment, except mine, – I did not feel like having a bear chase me on a bike – we didn’t see any bears.They waited impatiently as David offered his tools and inner tube patches to the family to make repairs. We exchanged a bear story and after a few minutes, made our bear spray handy and headed down the road.

It was great conquering the Sun Road to the tunnel but in retrospect I wish I would have made it to the Loop.

Everywhere you look, life is an adventure!

Till next time,

Marlene

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