On Monday, August 6 we left Avalanche Campground and made the 120 mile trek around to the east side, where we found a campsite at Rising Sun Campground. Our reason was to take a boat trip on Saint Mary Lake
, and Ranger guided hike to Saint Mary Falls
. This we did the next day on Tuesday.
The boat left at 10:00 A.M. and on the ride up the lake the Ranger described various features that make the lake unique. The limestone deposits at the narrows are the oldest rock in the park and are over a billion years old. The lake is over 400 feet deep and several small islands in the lake are spires that come all the way up from the bottom. It is a mystery how the glacier that formed the lake spared those few spires. The turquoise coloring of the water is caused by an extremely fine dust called 'Glacier flour' that is so fine it stays in suspension and absorbs all colors of the spectrum but that blue-green.
The boat docked and we hiked with the Ranger to the falls, which is about 2 miles farther at the end of the lake. The falls was quite beautiful, but we also wanted to see Virginia Falls which is another mile beyond Saint Mary Falls, so we left the group and continued on. Jamie, the Ranger, told us there are cascades
you reach first that can fool you into thinking you've reached the falls, but don't stop there and keep going because the falls is worth seeing.
We found it exactly as she'd told us. The several cascades
were quite impressive themselves, but we kept going and eventually heard the falls
through the trees ahead of us
. The pictures above speak for themselves
An interesting note:
Rangers in their programs often stress the point that water is the most dangerous thing in the park
. More people are killed or injured by water and waterfalls than by all the bears and wild animals in the park. One Ranger jokingly said that it's his opinion that 'photography' is the number one killer. People leaning over the waterfall for that perfect picture, and he said that they get some great pictures of bears taken just before the attack. The Rangers are pretty funny people!