Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saint Mary Lake

Saint Mary Lake, on the east side of Glacier National Park, has some neat beaches.  Unfortunately, I didn't actually get very close to them on this trip, but that isn't stopping me from writing this post.

When I was a kid, our family had to beach our rental canoe when the winds coming down the lake prevented our rounding the point to get back to the boat launch at Rising Sun.  That beach, a narrow gravel berm littered with drift wood, was just below the classic Goose Island turnoff on the Going to the Sun Road (the barrier beach is barely visible in the middle photo).

Two opposing promontories form the Narrows of Saint Mary Lake. The westerly winds that have blown down the lake for thousands of years have built swash aligned beaches on the western shores of each of these points (AERIAL VIEW).  The one on the north shore is the one where I was shipwrecked as a child.  The larger and more interesting beach is a beautiful barrier on the southern shore (see top photo).  The best way to explore it, short of a long hike, would be by canoe or kayak and with a a big can of bear spray.

If you explore the lake with the aerial imagery, you'll find other interesting beaches, too.  There are some neat beaches spreading downdrift from a stream delta on the southern shore (AERIAL).  And more along the toe of the alluvial fan that forms the southeastern end of the lake (AERIAL).

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