We are having good black bear luck. The first black bear we see this morning at the Rising Sun Picnic area is medium sized and in good shape. His skin jiggles as he pads along the road hunting for berries. He thrashes at the bushes as if he can't get enough. Down the road a bull elk is guarding his harem while a few other young bulls look on. By the time we watch the black bear and drive back the elk have disappeared, probably into the trees.
   The Red Eagle Lake Trail begins near the historic 1913 ranger station at St. Mary and runs along the south shore of St. Mary's Lake. The cabin is tucked away in the trees at the southeast corner of St. Mary Upper Lake, a typical dark wood cabin with a small corral attached. One can walk the rocky lake shore for a long distance. It's a very pleasant, quiet, peaceful place. The lake water is still as glass in the morning. Trees and bushes grow thickly along the shore - not far from where we saw the bear swimming.
   Glacier National Park is a combination of federal, international, private and reservation land. We drive to Many Glacier later this morning through Babb, a community of small houses. A large black dog wanders down the middle of 89, oblivious to cars. On the corner of 89 and Many Glacier Road is the Cattle Baron's Restaurant (or something like that). I'm sure I read about this restaurant/bar in Montana Quarterly or Big Sky Journal once. Cattle graze along the Many Glacier Road and cross into Park boundaries.
   Many Glacier Hotel is a large Swiss chalet of a building. A huge fireplace sits in the middle of the lobby and a deck runs the length of the chalet looking out at Swiftcurrent Lake. Barrels filled with flowers decorate the entrance. Bighorn sheep stroll past us as we make our way to the hotel from the parking lot on the hill.
   A series of hiking trails begin at Many Glacier. We hike the loop surrounding the lake and extending to Lake Josephine noting bear sign and moose sign. It's a pleasant, easy hike and there are several access points to the lake from the trail through the woods. Wildflowers are still blooming everywhere and some trees are changing into their fall wardrobe. On our way back, a small brown phase black bear crosses the road into the bushes.
   Swiftcurrent seems to be the place to see wildlife. In the early evening we scan the mountains around the motel. A dark sow and her large cub (it looks like a two year-old) climb over rocks and into the trees. A cinnamon black bear forages for berries on the opposite side of the mountain. From a shelf above a snow white mountain goat looks down. They are striking animals with their fluffy white fur, black horns and eyes. One gentleman mentions they'd seen a grizzly with three cubs just off the trail, which we assume means the Swiftcurrent Trail - a good place to hike tomorrow.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2009