We still had a little over a week before we actually started to work so we started going around and checking things out. One of the main attractions in Glacier was not open yet, that was the Going to the Sun Road. It is the main, actually only road in the park, that connects the east side to the west side of the park. The road usually opens sometime in June but many times not until sometime in July, because of the snow.
The road is a narrow winding road over the mountains. It is beautiful with views across mountain valley’s and in certain places even mountain glaciers. There are areas that have sheer drop offs along one side of the road and solid rock walls on the other side. One area is called the Weeping Wall, because there is water coming over the mountain and out of the rocks falling on the road, so when you get to that area you go thru the water. Click this link to see a video of this area of the road.
The Road’s pinnacle is Logan Pass, which is on the Continental Divide at 6,646 feet. There are many hiking trails that start at Logan pass and go in many directions. There are usually lots of mountain goats there also.
In the days leading up to our starting time we explored the park and ventured out into town. We found what we think even to this day, what was the best restaurant we have ever eaten in. In is in a town not too far from the park entrance called Columbia Falls. The name of the restaurant is The Backroom. They have the best rotisserie chicken and it comes with baby red potatoes, cole slaw, baked beans & fry bread with real honey to put on it. You think that when you order chicken you will get maybe a breast or something like that but here you get the breast and the rest of the half chicken. And it is really good, but the fry bread is amazing. You put real honey on it and it is hard to stop eating it and enjoy the rest of the food. After you eat there you don’t walk out, you waddle out. More food than most people can eat in one meal.
Well it was time to start actual work camping the next day. We went by the sewing shop and picked up our uniform shirts and jackets that we had the NPS patches sewn on. We got up the next morning, got dressed in our new uniforms, and went to the station to go thru our briefing about what to do. When we got there they issued us a big can of bear spray and a radio. They explained how to use both and what to do if we encountered a bear in the campground. We were to first get any people out of the area and then put our arms in the air and yell shoo bear shoo. If that did not work we would use our radio and call for the bear team. The bear team were real park rangers whos job was to handle all bear problems. The first time we called them was really interesting. The bear, a small black bear, had evidently been in the campground before, because the rangers said they knew the bear and it would leave quick. The ranger took out a shotgun and got so the bear could see him and he chambered a round in the gun. If you have been around a pump shotgun it makes a noise when you do that, kind of a cha chunk sound. When the bear heard that noise he turned and ran, ran fast into the woods. What had happened was that in the past the bear had been shot by the rangers and he knew what that sound of the shotgun chambering a round meant. The rangers don’t shoot the bears with a regular bullet, it is actually a small bean bag, but it hurts the bear enough to know that he does not want to be hit by one again, so if a bear has ever been shot with one he will run if he hears that noise.
In our orientation meeting we found out that the number one thing was to just try to answer any questions that people had and take care of any problems they may encounter. There were several loops in the campground and we got half of them and the other host got the other half. We would just walk around the campground, meet and greet people and watch for anything they may be doing that you can not do in this national park. The number one no-no is leaving any kind of food or drink, or even coolers with food or drink in them, out in the open if no one was in the campsite. If we found any of those items and could not locate the owners we would confiscate them, take them to our station and lock them in the building. Bears know what a cooler is and what they have in them. Then when the people do get back to their campsites and see that their stuff is gone they come and see us and ask us if we know anything about it. The way we would handle it was up to us. If the people were nice and understood why we did take the stuff, as 99 percent of them were, we would just explain the rules to them and give it back to them. If they were really rude and arrogant with us or threatened us in any way we would tell them that a park ranger would have to return their things to them. We would use our radio’s an call for ranger assistance. When the ranger showed up we would tell him what was going on and how the people were acting. If they continued to be rude, arrogant or threatening to the ranger they would be issued a ticket and depending on their attitude with that they could be kicked out of the campground. We have seen it happen both ways but usually when the ranger would explain how dangerous it was to leave that stuff out they would mellow and just get their stuff back.
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