GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. - A late-summer blizzard dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Glacier National Park yesterday, leaving roads closed, tourists chilled and hikers fleeing the back country.
"This storm is purging the back country like crazy," said Dallas Koehn, district ranger at Many Glacier. "Hikers are trying to find the shortest way out. They're not coming out where their vehicles are, they're coming out wherever they can."
And that sent rangers scurrying to shuttle hikers to their cars.
Elsewhere, there were reports of minor cases of hypothermia and stuck cars, Koehn said.
"It isn't unusual to get 2 or 3 inches of snow in August. But a foot? That's unusual," he said.
Sandy and Reg Goodwin of Helena, their two children, and family friends, Angela and Fritz Behr, hiked the seven miles from the Granite Park Chalet to Logan Pass in about seven hours yesterday.
Forecasts called for as much as a foot of new snow last night in the mountains. Park temperatures Friday night were in the low 20s, with 30 mph winds.
Winds were between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph, said park spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt.
The scenic Going-to-the-Sun Highway was closed yesterday as 2-foot snow drifts were reported on Logan Pass. Gates were locked at The Loop and at Rising Sun.
Crews cleared the road so cars left at the pass by back-country hikers could be driven out, but no other traffic was allowed.
At The Loop, motorists sat in their cars at the gate with their motors and heaters running.
And at Lake McDonald Lodge, Helen Hoffman of New York City sat before a fireplace.
"It makes us wonder if we've missed the camping season altogether," she said.