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Kelowna/Jasper/Banff/Glacier Trip

Day 16 of 17

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Saturday, August 1st
Drive to Spokane via Going-to-the-Sun Road

In the morning we noticed our neighbors were starting to pack up to leave. In fact, this was the third neighbor next to our site in 3 nights. I didn't think we smelled *that* bad. In fact, the entire campground had a very high turnover rate, but would end up full each night. Maybe some people use this as an initial campground since it's the first one from the eastern entrance, before finding a nicer campground elsewhere in the park.

In any event, we started packing up our camp for the last time on this trip. We had two fuel canisters left which we couldn't take with us on the plane, so we gave them to people we found in the campground who could use them. A little after 10am we were off, headed up the Going-to-the-Sun Road yet again.

It might be faster to drive south around the park rather than through it, but we planned to make several stops and enjoy the scenery near the road today. Our first stop was the overlook for Wild Goose Island, a tiny island that sits in the middle of St. Mary Lake.

Wild Goose Island

Our second stop was Sunrift Gorge. We did a short walk underneath the road next to Baring Creek, up to a viewpoint of Sunrift Gorge. It's a narrow gorge that, though it's hard to tell from the pictures, goes on and on and on upstream.

Small falls below Sunrift Gorge

Sunrift Gorge

Sunrift Gorge

I stopped briefly at the Jackson Glacier overlook, but there wasn't anything worth taking a picture of. Sadly, most of the glaciers in the park have melted away. Those that remain pale in comparison to what they once were. If you want to see glaciers, instead visit the Icefields Parkway in Banff/Jasper. And soon, before they melt away, too.

The Logan Pass parking lot was full again, but we weren't planning to stop there, anyway. Instead, we wanted to stop just past it at Oberlin Bend. The small parking lot there was also full, but someone left just as we arrived and we quickly snagged the parking space. There's a short boardwalk here with some nice views of the valley below. While in the shuttle bus we had seen mountain goats here yesterday, but there were none here today.

View from Oberlin Bend

I was thinking about stopping at Big Bend, but I passed the parking area and it was impossible to turn around. So we kept going, past the construction, past the Weeping Wall (lots of water trickling down the sides of the mountain to the right of the road). I also considered stopping at The Loop, but that parking area was full, too.

So we kept going, stopping at the Agpar picnic area at the southern end of Lake McDonald. There's a beach here with lots of throwing rocks. The lake is a 10-mile long recreational lake with motorboats and people in inflatables. After a little picnic here, we left a little before 2pm headed for the UPS Store in Columbia Falls. I had researched UPS Store locations before we left and had found this one, which was open until 3pm on Saturdays. I couldn't find any that were open on Sundays, so today was our day to ship our gear back.

Lake McDonald

We arrived at the UPS Store at 2:20pm, but found that the store had changed its hours from 9am-3pm to 10am-2pm. I actually had researched a backup store just in case, but it was in Spokane, and it was unlikely we'd reach it by its 5pm closing time. Things were looking dicey, but we found a UPS Store in Kalispell that was open until 4pm and on the way to Spokane, anyway. We got there around 3pm, in time to ship most of our camping gear home. It would arrive back in the Bay Area on Thursday.

With that out of the way, we continued our drive back to Spokane, through Montana and briefly through Idaho. Most of the drive features forested mountains, rivers, and lakes before it flattens out near Spokane.

We had dinner just outside of Spokane, then checked into our hotel and took our much-needed showers and baths before starting to pack our stuff up for the plane ride home the next day.

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