Road Trip 2017: Day 6
Every day of this incredible road trip just got better and better. We thought we had seen the most incredible stuff the day before and then we encounter more mind-blowing scenery and unbelievable vistas. That was Day 6 in a nutshell!
We started out Day 6 fairly leisurely. We decided that we would go back and do the Avalanche Lake hike that we missed earlier. We went to Apgar to try to catch the shuttle but we arrived there at around 10:30AM and it was already too late. The parking lot was completely full and we had a hard time getting a spot. As a side note there were all these old Model T Fords in the parking lot and we had seen piles of them during the trip. I thought someone had a rental business where you could rent them and drive them around the mountains! Turns out there was a Model T owner’s rally/convention while we were there. It was quite the sight to see these gorgeous old cars touring around the mountains! After we finally found a spot to park, the line up for a shuttle was insane. We waited around a bit then decided to just drive up to the Avalanche area ourselves.
One of the only downsides with Glacier National Park is that zillions of people want to see it. LOL. So the infrastructure of the park hasn’t kept up with demand in the slightest. It’s increased by 1,000,000 people a year since 2016 – roughly 3,000,000 people visit annually. The parking is basically non-existent at the various sites. Avalanche was no different. All the parking was gone when we arrived and so we had to park on the shoulder. I was never more terrified during the whole trip. I thought for sure I was going to roll the minivan! PRAISE THE LORD it stayed put. Very, very freaky angles for a minivan! The photos do not capture the fullness of the scary!
After my mild heart attack, we decided it was time to do the hike. We walked almost a KM back to the trail head from where we had to park and started the journey. It was about midday, which was better for bears anyways. More people were on the trail to scare them away before we arrived. But it was a gorgeous hike. It followed a waterfall laden river and honkin’ big boulders were everywhere. The kids loved posing beside these monster monoliths. And then after about two miles the trail opens up to Avalanche Lake: a gorgeous alpine body of water fed by three gigantic waterfalls! It was awe-inspiring! A nearby hippie stripped down to his skivvies and dove right in!
The trail continued down the side of the lake and then you are met with this hilarious “End of the Trail” sign. Even though I’m sure you could carry on and actually get up to some of the waterfalls. We were content to just hang out on the beach though and maybe leave such an excursion for when the kids were bigger. This hike and vista was definitely a must see!
We hiked back to our minivan which had still not rolled over (THANK THE LORD) and with a lot of gumption, I was able to drive back up onto the road. We headed back down to Lake McDonald at Apgar Beach so the kids could cool off after our long and glorious hike.
A quick comment about travel photography with kids & family. Simple and lightweight is best. Always. I brought the FujiFilm X-E2 with the 18-55 f/2.8-4 “kit” lens. That and my iPhone 7 did it all. I wasn’t burdened with hauling a metric tonne of gear. It was never heavy or cumbersome. I never got tired of carrying it all day long. The kit lens provided that ever-versatile 24-70 equivalent field of view. I probably could go down to single wide angle prime lens and be just as happy. You just have to realize that you won’t be able to get every shot you could get if you had a whole host of lenses and gear. But I’ve come to the conclusion: “So What?” Who cares? If you’re on a family trip, concentrate on being with the family and actually living the events to the full instead of capturing them to the full. You’ll be MUCH happier, 17% happier even, not hauling a bunch of big heavy & clunky gear with you. You won’t be able to get every shot. That’s OK. Contentment follows simplicity. This is the main difference between travel photography with family and dedicated photography trips. 😎