Every couple of years, MESK Travel Co hosts an adventure in an exotic place full of great scenery and great booze. In 2011, there was Cancun. In 2013, there was Colobeerado. In 2015, there was Sundance. And now, ahead of schedule in 2016, we present to you: Montana!
We met Elisse and Scott in Whitefish for a couple of low-key days. Somehow we managed to visit two state parks (Les Mason and Wayfarers) and three distilleries (Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits, Spotted Bear Distilling and Whistling Andy Distilling) we’d never been to, while still managing to drink a lot of beer (at Bonsai Brewing), eat pizza (at MacKenzie, natch), and read lots of books (at Dreaming Bear Lodge). All of this activity was just mental and physical preparation for our journey to Glacier Bear Retreat in Glacier National Park – you need to build stamina for a MESK Travel Co adventure, after all!
This was Elisse and Scott’s first time in Glacier and, in some respects, it felt like ours too. We’ve never really been to the park when the Going-to-the-Sun Road was neither all closed nor all open and discovering that the Park Service lets hikers and bikers have car-free access to much of the road during this season was incredible. We did some of the usual hikes (Avalanche Lake, Rocky Point around Lake McDonald), but we also took the long way around to St Mary and stopped at several places along Going-to-the-Sun we’d never explored before, like Sunrift Gorge, Baring Creek Bridge, and Jackson Glacier Overlook. We even saw a grizzly and a black bear! Once we reach the closed gate, we realized we could keep walking on the road and were hooked by the car-free nature of the road – we knew we had to do it on “our” side of Going-to-the-Sun.
Riding our bikes to the Loop was the culmination of this year’s adventure. In a little over an hour, we were standing at 4400 feet and looking over the valley, watching the waterfalls cascade off the mountains and McDonald Creek meandering along the valley floor. It was incredible!