Authors: Mike Graf
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Going to the Sun
Adventures with the Parkers
AN IMPRINT OF GLOBE PEQUOT PRESS
Text © 2012 Mike Graf
Illustrations © 2012 Marjorie Leggitt
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted in writing from the publisher. Requests for permission should be addressed to Globe Pequot Press, Attn: Rights and Permissions Department, PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437.
FalconGuides is an imprint of Globe Pequot Press.
Falcon, FalconGuides, and Outfit Your Mind are registered trademarks of Morris Book Publishing, LLC.
Licensed by Shutterstock.com: title page, 1 (bottom); 3; 4; 8; 17; 18–19; 22; 23: © Rick Laverty; 24; 25; 26 (all); 29: © Doug Lemke); 36; 37; 39: © Colin D. Young); 41; 45; 52; 53 (top); 58 (bottom); 63; 68: © Rick Laverty; 77: © Karoline Cullen; 84; 90–91; 93: © Frontpage; 94; inside back cover
© Mike Graf: 1 (top); 5; 14; 15; 28; 32–33; 34; 39; 49 (all); 50; 53 (bottom); 56 (all); 58 (top); 64; 65; 66; 69; 75
© Greg Lipinski: 60; 61
Map courtesy of the National Park Service
Illustrations: Marjorie Leggitt
Models for twins: Amanda and Ben Frazier
Project editor: David Legere
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available on file.
Printed in the United States of America
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A large brown animal dove underwater
Two calves nearby watched their mother disappear. One of the calves chewed on some water lilies, then searched around for more
The other young calf turned back just in time to see a surge of bubbles break the surface of the marsh. The mother reappeared with a clump of pondweed in her large mouth. She slurped in the nutritious food as excess water drained away
The cow moose hopped out of the water with her twin calves right behind
One of the newborns slipped on the wet bank. It kicked at the ground, trying to get up. The mother returned to the water and approached the calf from behind, pushing it gently with her long snout
Off in the forest, a gray animal tilted his muzzle toward the air and picked up a faint scent. He perked up his ears and took several steps toward the distant smell. The robust wolf trotted along, letting his senses guide him. He paused momentarily to lift his leg and urinate against a tree. Now other wolves would know where he had been
The mother moose nudged at the struggling calf. The newborn bleated loudly and
frantically kicked its feet. Finally, with the cow’s prodding, the young moose stood up and wobbled along
The three moose walked into a brushy meadow. In the middle of the grass was a flattened area. The mother and her two young lay down there. One of the calves rested its nose on the cow’s stomach
The area was surrounded by large sculpted mountains. Several small snowfields clung to the high peaks far above the trees. A few waterfalls cascaded down into the valley where the three moose rested
The adult moose pivoted her ears in both directions, listening to the sounds of the wilderness. Then she, too, rested her head
Several minutes later, the mother moose stood up. She led her young through a gently rolling stream. The delicate turquoise waters gurgled along rhythmically
The lone wolf ran to the edge of the forest. He stopped and peered ahead toward a series of meadows and small ponds. The wolf paced back and forth, his powerful sense of smell alerting him that prey was very close
Morgan, James, Mom, and Dad were cleaning up
after dinner. It was their first evening in Glacier National Park in northern Montana. They were camped at Fish Creek, on the west side of the park.
Ten-year-old twins James and Morgan hoisted the ice chest into the car. “Be careful of Dad’s banner!” Morgan whispered.
A ranger holding an animal pelt walked up.
Morgan and James put the cooler down in the trunk. Mom and Dad heard the approaching footsteps and looked up.
“Good evening!” the ranger greeted the Parkers. “Welcome to Fish Creek.” The ranger glanced at the campsite. “You have one of my favorite spots in the campground. Just down the hill is a little trail leading right to the lake.”
“We sure like it,” Morgan agreed.
James looked at what the ranger was carrying. “What’s that?”
“A wolf pelt,” the ranger replied. She held it out for Morgan and James to pet.
Morgan reached over and touched the pelt gently. “What happened to it?”
“Unfortunately, this wolf was hit by a car,” the ranger replied. “I’m giving a campfire talk on wolves tonight at the amphitheater so you can learn more about one of Glacier’s predators. There won’t be a fire, though. There’s a burn restriction throughout the park due to the extremely dry conditions.”
“What time’s the talk?” Dad asked.
Dad glanced at his watch. “Fifteen minutes to finish cleaning up, then.”
The ranger trotted off to another campsite.
The wolf crept slowly out of the cover of the trees. He reached the pond and quickly splashed across. Then he came to a flattened area in the grass and sniffed around, picking up a fresh scent. The powerful predator surged through the grass and crossed a gurgling stream
The wolf saw movement ahead. He crouched behind a tree, growled softly, and bared his teeth
“So,” the ranger continued at the amphitheater, “wolves typically live in packs of about four to seven, although they can also travel alone. It often depends on the availability of food.
“Here in the West, they live anywhere from Alaska to Montana and in parts of Idaho, Minnesota, and Wyoming. Wolves are five to six and a half feet long and weigh eighty to a hundred pounds. They can be white, gray, tan, black, or multicolored.
“Years after their disappearance from Glacier,” the ranger concluded, “they returned on their own around 1980. Now there are several packs living in the park.”
The ranger pressed a button on her remote, and several pictures of wolves came up on the screen. She pressed another button, and a chorus of recorded howls serenaded the audience.
The crowd listened to the cacophony of calls. Mom leaned toward her family. “An eerie but beautiful sound if I’ve ever heard one,” she said.
The ranger turned on the lights. “Thank you for coming to the presentation. I’ll be up front if any of you want to ask a few questions or hang around and chat.”
After the talk, Morgan, James, Mom, and Dad returned to camp. Dad looked up at the evening sky, then through the trees at Lake McDonald. “Why don’t we head down there?” he suggested.
The Parkers walked to the sandy beach. They sat and gazed out at the placid lake.
Sunset in Montana.
A family of ducks paddled by. One by one they dipped their beaks into the water and lifted them back up. For a brief moment all five birds dove under at once. They resurfaced together a few feet away.
“I wonder if they’re trying to catch fish,” Morgan said.
“It sure appears that way,” Mom said.
James studied the massive sculpted mountains at the far end of the lake. A small plume of smoke drifted above one of the peaks.
Dad glanced at his watch. “Nine o’clock,” he announced. “And it’s still light out.”
“Welcome to northern Montana,” Mom responded. “The land of late summer sunsets.”
“It’s completely dark at this time where we live,” Morgan said.
“Except it’s only eight o’clock in California,” James reminded his sister.
A drop of saliva trickled out of the side of the wolf’s mouth
Sensing danger, the moose family began trotting away
The wolf sprang after them
One of the calves stumbled. Its wobbly young legs struggled to clamber over the rooty, rocky path
The wolf bolted ahead, fixating on the trailing calf
The mother led both calves toward a rock-and-boulder-strewn slope at the edge of a mountain. She turned and stood, shielding her young while nudging them higher onto the rocks
The lone gray wolf closed to within fifty feet of the three moose. He dashed ahead while the calves scampered farther uphill, stopping where the mountain became steep
The wolf ran right up to the moose family
The cow turned her hind end toward the carnivore, hoisted her back legs off the ground, and kicked the wolf
The blow slammed into the wolf’s leg, sending him somersaulting onto the forest floor. He yelped, then stopped rolling. The wolf lay still, stunned by the kick. After a moment, he slowly stood. The wolf gingerly half-extended his paw and held it above the ground. A trickle of blood oozed down his leg. He licked the wound while keeping his eyes fixed on the three moose
A moment later, he turned and hobbled into the forest
The three moose watched the wolf limp away. Then the cow hopped up and nudged each of her calves down the slope. One calf stumbled and fell,
knocking several rocks loose. More rocks gave way, creating a flurry of small boulders crashing down the mountain
The mother instinctively bolted away from the building avalanche, her upright calf instantly following her. But the rockfall smacked into the sprawled calf. Debris quickly began burying her. Soon the young moose was out of sight. The cascade of rocks slowed to a trickle before finally stopping
The cow moose bleated in distress. She climbed up the precarious field of loose rocks and pried and pawed at the rocks but couldn’t get the large ones to budge. As darkness began to fall, the mother moose found shelter nearby with her remaining calf
The Parkers rose from the sand and walked to a nearby footpath. They took the trail toward Rocky Point, a small, rocky peninsula of land jutting out into the lake.
After a few minutes, the family reached their destination. They circled the point, gazing at the shoreline and the views.
James heard something move in the forest. “What’s that?”
They all peered into the trees, trying to decipher what it was.
“I don’t see anything,” Mom said.
Morgan heard the noise again. “There it is!”
The Parkers watched a ground squirrel dash across the forest floor and hop onto a tree trunk. The squirrel quickly scampered up the tree.
Dad gazed at the path toward camp. “You know, all that talk on our drive here has given us bearitis. Come on, let’s head back,” he said. “It’s getting dark.”