We got up very early this morning because our friend Dan told us that if we wanted to get a back country permit we should get to the Ranger Station by 7:00am when it opened. It didn't actually open until 8am so we had some time to kill in Polebridge before the Ranger Station opened. The Polebridge Mercantile is known for it's baked goods so luckily it was open and we ate some breakfast there. We shared a huckleberry bear claw and a sausage and hashbrown stuffed pastry. They were both super tasty.
After our breakfast we headed to the ranger station and it still wasn't open so we waited some more. The process to get back country permits is that you can only get a pass 24 hours in advance, so our plan was to get a pass for that night at Quartz Lake which was a 12 mile loop from the Bowman Lake Campground. When the ranger checked there were no passes available for that site, so we would have to pick a different back country site. There was a spot open for Cracker Lake the next night so we signed up for that. It was a six mile hike in and back to an alpine lake so we figured it would be comparable to what we wanted to do at Quartz Lake. This new plan also meant we had to drive 20 minutes back on the windy gravel road again to go back to the campground and pack up our stuff.
After packing up our stuff we headed back to the Apgar area. Even though we just ate breakfast we decided that huckleberry ice cream would be a great morning snack.
Next on the list was finding a campsite for the night. We looked at the map and decided that we would try the Sprague Creek Campground. It was a smaller campground that had sites right on Lake McDonald. Well even though it was fairly early in the morning all the sites were filled, so we were forced to trek on to the next campground. After dealing with some traffic on Going to the Sun Road we ended up at the Avalanche Campground. Luckily there were plenty of sites available so we chose one and got our tent set up.
The trail to Avalanche Lake was only a few minute walk from our campsite so we decided that would be a good activity for the afternoon. The trail was only a couple miles long so that sounded enjoyable after our extensive exercise the day before. The trail was really nice, but very busy since it is one of the easier hikes in the park. The entire way to the lake we kept thinking that it may rain on us, but we didn't get wet until we actually arrived at Avalanche Lake.
It was crazy to watch the thunderstorm roll over the mountain. And even crazier to see the scenery change right before your eyes. The storm wasn't too bad where we were, but we heard on the radio the next day that someone had been struck by lighting during that storm at St. Mary Falls. Luckily the weather the rest of the trip was gorgeous and this was the only rain we had the whole time we were in the park.
For dinner that night we made our Rice and Black Bean Burritos. We bought a pack of Old El Paso Black Beans and a pack of Old El Paso Rice and heated it up on our trail stove and then put it in a burrito shell. It makes for a super quick and easy camping or backpacking meal.
After dinner we decided to go on a drive back to Lake McDonald since we kind of missed that area in the morning when we were trying to get a campsite for the night. It ended up being a perfect night for a drive. It was about an hour before sunset so everything was just beautiful. We stopped at McDonald Falls, the McDonald Lodge and Lake McDonald near the Apgar Campground. We ate more ice cream and even got a new ornament for our Christmas tree. The ornament we choose was a bear eating huckelberries, which was a good pick since our bear sighting was one of the best stories we have from our trip.
So that ends another fabulous day on vacation which includes all of the required elements: adventure, good food and a little relaxation.