Before leaving the park on Friday we wanted to take a Ranger guided hike to Red Rock Lake, in hopes of seeing the moose that everyone had been talking about. So we buttoned up the RV and quit our campsite, and parked in the Swiftcurrent Lodge parking lot for the duration.
The hike left at 9:00 and was led by a Ranger named Kara who's been with the park for 11 years. She's an encyclopedia of information on every park related subject, and a very nice person too. The first place we headed was Fisher Cap Lake, a short ten minute walk that produced no sightings of anything, although moose have been seen there almost every day.
To make a long story short, even Red Rock Lake which is more remote had nothing but a beaver lodge to offer, so we saw the falls and visited with our fellow hikers for a while, then started back planning to stop a Fisher Cap again one last time. The hike back was nice and we were almost to the turnoff to Fisher Cap when we saw several people squatting and squinting on the trail ahead of us, and we heard something crashing around in the bushes off to the right. A woman coming toward us said, "There's a big bull moose right there in the trees
! And sure enough there was - and close enough to hear him chewing the stuff he was tearing off the branches
We never thought we'd ever get this close to a live moose in the wild, and it was really closer than we wanted to be, but he was still in the velvet and they are supposed to be sensitive about hurting their antlers during that time
, so we figured he might kick us, but he probably wouldn't try to gore us.
We took pictures for as long as he let us and when he finally went his way we were sorry to see him go
. We agreed that we still wanted to stop at Fisher Cap Lake, and it's a good thing we did because there in the middle of the lake was a cow moose feeding on the aquatic vegetation!
What a day!
We sat on the bank and watched her for a long time, until she finally ambled out of the water and on up beach to disappear into the woods
. She was so elegant - like a thoroughbred just going for a swim. The bull moose was powerful and exciting, but she was poetic.
We left Glacier with a great deal of sadness. We'll have fun back east but we're going to miss our beloved west.
An hour from the park and headed east the landscape changes radically, and you find yourself in prairie country that makes it hard to imagine you were ever in the mountains. This is Blackfeet Reservation land, a once powerful tribe of warriors who fiercely defended their territory and way of life.
We were headed in the general direction of Billings and since this is former dinosaur habitat we wanted to stop at some of the museums and dinosaur displays along the way. One of these is in Bynum, a town our route took us through. The facility is called the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center, and it's housed in a small metal building off highway 89. The outside is not imposing but the exhibits are authentic and very interesting.
It is a working lab that takes people on tours out to the 'dinosaur hot spots' and conducts preparation and analysis of artifacts found at the digs. Their pride is a model they call 'the world's longest dinosaur' and it's a full size skeletal model recognized by the Guinness world records.
It's modeled after bones found in 1979 in New Mexico, of an animal they call Seismosaurus halli "The Earth-Shaker". Their model is as accurate as they could make it, and measures 137 feet in length and stands 23 feet high at the hip. It's so big they have the tail curved around until the tip almost reaches the head to get it in the building, and the building is so small it's impossible to get back far enough to get a picture of the whole thing at once, but the pictures above give some idea of it's size.
They have many other artifacts from all over the world - eggs from Mongolia, teeth of a Tyrannosauris Rex, and a leg bone weighing 570 pounds and estimated to be more than 130 million years old.
We drove on a ways and then camped for the night in an off road parking area of the Freezeout Lake Wildlife Refuge, a huge lake and marsh area along Highway 89 in Choteau, and free. There are no amenities, but we're completly self contained and this was on the prairie with a nice breeze blowing through our living room, and no one around to bother us. We fell asleep and woke the next morning to the sound of Canada geese flying over and cattle lowing on the range across the road. Perfect!