Dave and his brother Perry had headed out on their short backcountry hike, over Gunsight Pass, overnighting it at Lake Ellen Wilson. The next day we were to rendez-vous at the SPERRY CHALET.
From the website:
Sperry Chalet was built in 1913 by James J. and son Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway, the prime developer of Glacier National Park. Listed as an Historic Landmark, these rustic buildings, built of native rock, have survived their rugged environment relatively unchanged for over 90 years.
Charles and I left St Mary's Campground at 6AM, drove over the Going To The Sun Road and arrived at Lake McDonald at 7:15. We grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and checked in at the stable by 8AM. We were allowed to wear our Camelbaks but had to pack our clothes and other items into the saddlebags that would be slung over our horses. I grew up in the inner city and have had practically NO experience with horses. If reading all of those horse stories as a young girl would've enabled me to be knowledgable, I could be an expert! As the Trail Boss was explaining the directives and "driving instructions", his horse was stomping and throwing his head all over the place. I thought, "Wow, that horse is a handful, I hope mine is as docile as a carousel pony!" To my disbelief, he singles me out and motions me to come over and get on SON OF SATAN, I mean..."BLAZER", the VERY horse he's on! The whole 6.5 mile ride up to the chalet I fought that horse! Even on the really steep parts of the trail when he should have been "focused", all he did was eat! He grabbed not only grass and ferns but he was even eating seedling pine trees! Charlie, who was right behind me on his horse SHORTY (the biggest horse at the stable) asked me if I was "riding a horse or a pig?" The Wrangler In Charge later told me that BLAZER had been a free-range rescued mustang. That didn't change my opinion of the demon horse however!
Once I was free of the devil horse, we checked into the chalet. Our family was given a room that would sleep the 4 of us, within the actual chalet. Charles flops on Uncle Perry's bed!
The Sperry Chalet is only 1 of 2 remaining backcountry chalets built in the early days of Glacier National Park. The Great Northern Railroad funded the building of the chalets for early tourists, before the "Going To The Sun Road" was put in. There are 3 seperate buildings-a dormitory, kitchen and restroom facility. This is the dormitory.
This is a picture of Charles in the Dining Hall with his piece of home-made Apple Pie! The chalet is only open 10 weeks in the summer and has a staff of 9 people to work it. They do everything from cooking, including a baker, to housekeeping. The staff was wonderful to say the least, it was a very first class experience! Our cost included dinner that evening-turkey with all the trimmings, a made to order breakfast and a sack lunch! By the way, I had home-made peach pie!
Charles and I were at the chalet about an hour before Dave & Perry caught up with us. There are resident mountain goats all over this mountaintop. They are accustomed to people but are still wild and skiddish.
One of the locals hanging out on the deck of the chalet!
After Dave and Perry cleaned up and we had relaxed, we gathered in the Dining Room to await our Turkey Dinner complete with Pumpkin Pie for dessert! The chalet only operates on propane power and all supplies as well as garbage are packed in and out, on horseback. The staff cleans up after dinner and the dining room is opened back up, for a couple of hours to the guests. Coffee and tea are served and it is lit inside for reading, playing games, visiting or playing cards as we did.
After breakfast the next morning we will collect or sack lunches and head out to Sperry Glacier.