The Most Beautiful Ridge Trail Ever

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It’s our last day in Montana, and for our final hike we decided to revisit Logan’s Pass and see if we could go all the way down to the lake.  Turns out, the trail down to the lake has been closed since we visited last week. Apparently, the mama grizzly and her cubs are still hanging out there.  We were disappointed by this but very grateful that we already had a chance to hike that trail.  We were treated to some spectacular wildflowers though: DSCN2989

Since last week, most of the snow has melted and instead there’s just a stunning profusion of flowers.  So all was not lost.   We went as far as we could at Logan’s (about 3 miles round trip) but we were up for something more. So, we decided to hit the Highline Trail,  a ridge trail that actually runs over 11 miles through Glacier.  We read that this trail had the most spectacular views so we decided to hike it until we ran out of gas (11 plus miles is not an option for me!).

My favorite types of trails to hike are ridge trails.  This is true anywhere I hike.  Canyon trails and forest trails can make me feel claustrophobic at times;  on ridge trails I can see not only where the trail is going but expansive vistas all around.  I love that feeling of being on top of the world with lots of big sky all around.  And I can say that the Highline Trail is a ridge trail on steroids.  So grand, so expansive, so stunning.  The photo up top gives you a little idea of what it was like to be up there.  This trail is also known for a short stretch of narrowish trails with a precipitous drop to one side.  Here’s a photo of David on that stretch of the trail.  That’s the Going To The Sun Road down below: DSCN2998

There’s a cable that hugs the mountain if you want to hang on, but it really wasn’t a big deal.  I’m so glad we didn’t skip out on this hike.  Check out these views: DSCN3005 DSCN2996

On a funny note, as we were hiking back toward the trailhead we met up with four very spunky goats: DSCN3011

Even though the trail is pretty narrow, at this point there was room for us to step aside and let them trot on by.  As we continued on our way we quickly came across a long line of at least 50 hikers;  apparently the goats had caused quite a traffic jam and the hikers couldn’t get by until they decided to move on down the trail.  It was pretty funny.

All in all, this beautiful hike was a fitting end to our two weeks in Montana.  We certainly got our fill of all that Glacier and the surrounding area had to offer.  Finally, on our way back to our condo we stopped for lunch at the Montana Coffee Traders where I had a delicious Tempeh Reuben.  You just never know where you will stumble on a great vegan meal!

I’m looking forward to our next two days on the road.  Great company, great scenery and a great audiobook…

Plant Power!

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I am not a competitive athlete.  I played tennis in high school and I ran a four-mile race back in the 90’s.  Exercise wasn’t a major part of my life until I moved to Arizona when I was in my forties.  I just couldn’t resist the gorgeous terrain and beautiful weather.  I became a regular hiker.  And while I routinely hike at a pretty good pace I’m not much into timing myself and tracking my “progress”.   Historically, the more I hiked the better I felt, both mentally and physically, and the more easily I could manage my weight.  Not very complicated.

While being vegan is undoubtedly a gift to the body, and I’ve been starting to feel the effects of improved nutrition (better sleep, no gluten sensitivity, lighter and leaner). I hadn’t given very much thought to how the change in diet would impact my hiking.  I started thinking some about this when I listened to podcasts of two very accomplished athletes discussing their competitive successes which were fueled by plant-based, whole foods diets.  The first athlete, Mark Frazier, is an ultra-marathoner (his website, “No Meat Athlete” is here)and the second is Brendan Brazier, a former professional Ironman triathlete and ultra-marathoner (his website, “Thrive Forward” is here).

What I learned was that neither of these athletes went vegan for ethical reasons. While they have feelings about this now, these guys were each seeking an eating approach that would best lead to improved athletic performance.   And we’re talking crazy high-level performance here.  After trying out different combinations of food, they each settled on entirely plant-based diets.  One often-mentioned benefit to the vegan diet was improved recovery time.  Faster recovery = more training.  This certainly made sense to me since I believe that our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal themselves if given the best nutrition.

So four months after going vegan, this got me thinking about testing out my own level of hiking fitness.  And that brings me to the Phoneline Trail in Sabino Canyon.  David and I hike all over this canyon but there’s a half mile stretch of the Phoneline Trail that has always given me fits.  It’s not the steepest part, but it is a section of sustained incline with no switchbacks (oh how I love switchbacks).  When we first moved into our house I routinely climbed this section of the trail and I seldom did it comfortably, even after several months.  Eventually it started to dampen my enthusiasm (bad!) so I devised different trail combinations and avoided that part.

Well, this weekend I decided to get back on Phoneline.  I didn’t really expect to see a big difference.  Man, was I wrong!  Not a huff or a puff.  Zip, zip and it was done.  I didn’t feel tired, winded or depleted. I finished the rest of the hike (probably another few miles) feeling totally energized. While it’s impossible to say definitively that my vegan diet caused the improved performance, the ease with which I scampered up that trail was pretty hard to ignore.

It’s exciting to consider that in my mid-fifties I can, with a change of diet and consistent, reasonably intensive exercise turn back the clock and potentially feel and perform better than I did a decade ago.

Plant power is very, very cool.

 

 

 

 

Positively Biblical

Monsoon season in the desert can be quite a spectacle.  When I first moved to Arizona I had a hard time getting my head around the idea that dangerous rain and flash flooding could even happen here.  A flooded basement in Scottsdale let me know that rain damage could and did happen in the summer in the desert.  And I heard plenty of stories about people drowning in the rushing water in the washes.

Summer in Tucson is even more tropical with afternoon rain a common and welcome occurrence.  Since we moved here, I’ve seen lots of surprising monsoon-related things, from snakes climbing onto my deck to escape the water to helicopters plucking stranded hikers out of the canyon after an unexpected microburst.   But as we ventured out today we encountered a less than delightful monsoon-related phenomenon:

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If this photo makes you think of plagues and locusts I get it.

This was not our first encounter with this.  Last summer, upon heading out for an early morning walk on a super-humid day, the swarms were everywhere, both in the air and on the ground.  As we considered turning around (I mean, really, what price fitness?)  we met up with one of our neighbors who told us that these are flying ants-unpleasant for sure, but harmless.  A quick google search told us that intense humidity and moisture can create the perfect mating environment for these ants (which don’t bite by the way).  This swarming business is related to the mating activity.  Quite the frenzy if you see it up close.

When we ran into the flying ants on the road this morning we knew what was going on but it wasn’t any more pleasant to be around.  I was disappointed that I didn’t have my camera with me, but lo and behold I had my own personal swarm outside my kitchen door.  That’s when I took these photos.  I tried to get some close-ups but given all the frenetic activity it was a challenge.  The ants taking a rest from the mating ritual:

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I was not resting but rather swatting frantically so I could get closer:

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Yuck.

As the humidity lifts these should clear out–can’t be soon enough for me!  So as not to leave my readers with a pretty creepy visual I will share a few shots of the more lovely aspects of a well-watered desert:

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The prickly pear, plump and ripe.

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The stunning blooms of the barrel cactus.

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One bloom opening to greet the day.

Much better.

 

 

 

 

Many Glacier And Heading Home

Right now David and I are ensconced in a truly horrible Super 8 motel in Cedar City, Utah.  We stayed in Butte, Montana last night and drove all day to get here.  Tomorrow night we will be home.  Before we headed home we spent the last night of our trip here:

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This is the Many Glacier Hotel, located inside the park on the east side.  We had been staying on the west side, and we made a special trip through the park to visit the sights in Many Glacier before heading home.   This hotel is rustic and modest, and it was a change for us to actually be staying in the park. This was the view from our balcony:

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Not bad.  When we arrived on Wednesday we took an easy walk around the Swiftcurrent Lake (the one in the photo).  It was FLAT (yay!) and chill–just what I was up for.  It was nice to be up close to the water although the bug spray was a must.  Here’s David looking pretty relaxed too:

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We were up and out early yesterday. Our choice of hikes was easy because several were actually closed because of the melting snow conditions.  We ended up doing the “Red Rock” trail to Bullhead Lake, another flat 8 miles or so.  This hike had the most incredible waterfalls. I had to be a part of this photo…

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And this pool was also something special:

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And the pay-off on this hike did not disappoint:

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It’s funny how much this looks like Avalanche Lake which I shared from my very first post from the trip.  Admittedly, after nearly two-weeks of endless oohs and aahs, the stunning scenery becomes almost expected.

Since we had pretty much maxed out on Many Glacier hiking (and the accommodations weren’t anything to hang around for) we decided to start our trip home yesterday afternoon rather than this morning.  This way we’ll make it to Tucson tomorrow evening.  The Super 8 in Cedar City is a result of this change of plans (The original plan had us stopping over in Park City).  BUT, there is a Starbucks in Cedar City that we can hit on our way out of town early tomorrow morning.  So there’s that.

Post Mortem

The long ride home provides plenty of opportunity for us to reflect on our trip (when we’re not listening to the audiobook of “Unbroken”).  The more we travel, the more we learn how we like to travel.  End to end this was a really wonderful trip and vacation.  Here’s what made it so successful for us:

-We loved hiking in the national park and loved staying out of it.  Our condo was 12 miles away from Glacier, which was close enough for daily hiking but away from the “touristy” aspect of the place.  We had leisurely afternoons, drank our own coffee and saved money by eating in for breakfast and lunch.  We loved taking advantage of the park without feeling confined by what it offered.

-There was great eating and drinking.  We had no idea that the Columbia Falls/Whitefish areas of Montana would have such good restaurants.  They were across-the-board excellent-good for foodies, vegetarians and gluten-free folks.  We had been prepared to do most of our own cooking (anticipating that this would not be the case) but we thoroughly enjoyed taking a break from cooking dinner and exploring the restaurant scene.

-There was a lot to do that wasn’t at Glacier.  As much as we loved our time in the park (as I documented ad nauseum) we also were charmed by the town of Whitefish.  The hiking there was also great and we never even got around to the many lake activities available all around the area.  We would not have been bored if we had stayed another week. I think we both really like to be able to mix it up and not do the same stuff every day, especially on a two week trip.

-We were on the grid (for the most part).  From our condo we could stay connected and (if need be) take care of personal business. Being in the park means being out of touch. This was particularly problematic at the Many Glacier hotel where there is no cell phone service and very spotty internet. We are not overly consumed by technology but we simply don’t like not having either cell phone or internet service.  That was another reason we left Many Glacier a day early.  Hmmm, I may have to rethink that “glamping” trip I have my eye on in Moab!

It’s been a really terrific two weeks, and now that we are almost home I am looking forward to getting back to the desert.  I think the monsoons have started which also makes Tucson a pretty cool place to be in the summer.  I’m sure you will hear all about it. 🙂

 

 

 

 

I Can, But So What?

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The caption to this photo should read, “I’m smiling but I’m TIRED and I’m HOT and MY FEET HURT. ARE WE THERE YET???”

THERE refers to the chalet that we failed to reach two days ago (see the blog post of July 6) because I couldn’t take another step up after about 3 miles.  Today, I decided that I wanted to take another shot at reaching the chalet, 2450 ft. and over four miles from the trailhead.  I don’t know exactly why I wanted to do this, and I’m still wondering about it.  This shot was taken beyond the area where I turned around last time, and I was trying to use the beautiful scenery to spur me on.

I was hiking at a crazy slow pace using my trekking pole to help pull me along.  David, who was feeling full of energy had to wait every so often to let me catch up.  It was so painful for David to watch me slog along (and I’m sure my complaining wasn’t too pleasant either) that even he was praying for the chalet to please, please come into view. Eventually it did:

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Um.  I think I was expecting something just a wee bit grander, and after 4-plus grueling miles I was a bit disappointed with the pay-off.  This was “chalet” Glacier-style, which meant picnic benches, Butterfingers for sale and non-functioning outdoor bathrooms. There are several hotel rooms in there for folks who want to hike up and stay overnight.  And do WHAT?

We did meet some interesting people up there.  One man, who was heading back down the trail was 77 years old!  And a group of ladies (native Montanans in their sixties!)  was getting ready to turn back around after hiking up before us.  Wow, kind of shame-inducing.  I had been looking forward to a good hour of relaxing time before heading back but the gnats got to us.  At least we spotted some fun wildlife.  Check out this marmot:

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Zoom lens.  I had no intention of getting this close 🙂

So here’s the thing about going downhill after a steep four miles uphill.  It’s just not that much easier.  The constant pounding on already tired legs and feet is not comfortable.  I was dying for some flat terrain, but it was not to be.  Here’s David (with a real smile on his face) waiting for me (again, still) amidst the lush foliage hugging the trail.  In just two days the greenery on the trail really exploded.

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I groaned and grimaced my way back down to the trailhead all the while wondering what I was trying to prove.  Perfectionist tendencies kicking in?  Existential dread?  Some competitive thing?  Who knows.  What I do know is that after miles and miles and miles of hiking this week my body simply had enough.  I felt somewhat proud of myself for making it to the top, but I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything that really mattered to me.

For me, there’s a tension between having a sense of what my limitations might be and knowing that growth comes from trying new things and facing fear.   There’s also tension between “knowing myself” and discovering new things about myself.  One example of revisiting a long-held belief from this trip happened when we were hiking in the snow.  It was so wonderful to be out in the sunshine on the snow that I am now thinking about trying cross-country skiing this winter.  What I have always “known” about myself is that I hate the snow.

I remain committed to routinely straying out of my comfort zone and at the same time being honest with myself and others about how I feel when I stray.  And I always, always reserve the right to change my mind.

Looking forward to a much-needed day off tomorrow…

 

 

 

Amazing America

Happy July 4th everyone!  After a day like today we are very much in touch with the extraordinary country we live in.  The beauty of it all just takes our breath away.  After much anticipation, the “Going to the Sun” road opened and we wasted no time in driving along the road to hike the Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass.  And this is what it looked like when we got there at 8:30 this morning:

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I’m not sure what I was expecting since the delay had been about SNOW, but one thing I was sure about was that we wouldn’t be seeing those “meadows of wildflowers”!   Well after my initial 10 minutes of panic (I overheard a ranger talking about potential dangerous conditions once things warmed up) I got in the spirit and we hit the trail.  Here’s me feeling good about conquering the panic:

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Because we were ahead of the crowds (per usual) there was an incredible feeling of quiet and isolation.  Check this out:

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You can see the yellow trail markers that we followed on the way up peeking out behind me.  Once up this large hill things flattened out and we were treated to some lovely scenery:

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I was very happy to park myself for a few minutes on the dry land:

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After a while we arrived at the Hidden Lake lookout but we didn’t get any shots of that.  David descended farther down toward the actual lake but since it was frozen you can’t really see much in those photos either.  I wanted to get a shot of him way down there but he had my camera! So back we went.  The sun was shining by then and the snow was getting softer.  The crowds were undaunted though:

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Once at the bottom we took a moment to actually check out the trailhead.  Here’s David (who is 6’1″) standing next to the impressive snow wall:

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And here’s me (after peeling off a few layers) next to the trailhead sign:

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After this hike in the snow we headed back to the west side of the park via the Going to the Sun road.  And this time, with the sun high overhead and plenty of time to explore, we stopped to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.  The road is very windy and slow-moving, but really, we were all there to enjoy and admire the beauty all around us.

Here are some shots of the mountains, waterfalls and river (from on high):

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At one pull-off area were learned something about the stunning shape of these valleys:

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Apparently the U-shaped valleys so clear in my photos were caused by the glaciers themselves and left behind when they melted. Here are shots of us in front of one particularly dramatic valley.  I also love the beautiful stone barriers that are used at the side of the road. So organic and architectural.

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The waterfalls that come crashing down the mountains are something to see:

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I don’t think the folks in the Mercedes convertible were planning on a car wash today…

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Oops!

At the lower elevation we were treated to close-ups of the river that you could see in the panoramic photos.  It is a lush shade of blue/green and we had to get out of the car and have a look:

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I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to spend the day surrounded by such beauty.  Tonight it’s a quiet dinner with David in Whitefish and then to bed before the fireworks!

Enjoy your 4th!

 

Hungry Horse Ate Our Hike…

…So We Took Pictures Instead

Lots of them.  Here’s what happened.

We set off this morning to the Hungry Horse Reservoir and Dam, a hiking and camping area not far from where we are staying.  As I mentioned before, we are waiting for more of Glacier to open up, but there are so many other beautiful places to explore.

We visited the Hungry Horse Ranger Station yesterday and the very helpful ranger(ette) sent us on our way with some maps and trail ideas.  What she neglected to say, however, was that our humble Hyundai was not going to be very happy climbing the winding unpaved roads to the trails.  After two false starts that included a glacial pace (pun intended) in order to not dislodge some essential part of the underside of our car, we turned around and finally had to admit defeat.  We never did make it to a trailhead.  BUT, we saw some unbelievable things and we stopped whenever we felt like it and took pictures.  I know how utterly tedious it is to look at someone’s “trip pictures” so I selected only the most spectacular.  I will be your guide through a tour of Hungry Horse…

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Something that made driving around this area so amazing was that we were hanging around at high elevation most of the time.  As such, the mountain views felt like they were more at eye-level, closer to us.  The photo above was one of the first we took but the overcast sky made it hard to get much contrast.  This improved as we drove on.  On our way to the first trailhead that we were destined not to reach I was loving the proliferation of wildflowers which we haven’t seen too much of so far:

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The juxtaposition between these lovely yellow flowers, the pine trees and snow-capped mountains took my breath away.  I’m reminded of all the big jigsaw puzzles I used to do; now I know where they took the pictures!  On our way to trailhead number two we caught another view of the mountain from the top photo:

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That’s David taking the same shot with his phone.  Thanks honey for bringing that much-needed splash of red to my picture!  In this photo you can see the water.  That’s the Hungry Horse reservoir which was visible for much of the drive.  Here’s a more beautiful shot of the meandering edge of the reservoir:

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I know.  It’s spectacular.  Can you see the mountains in the background?  As usual, the landscape is so much more beautiful with the sun reflecting all around.  Finally, after we aborted hiking attempt number two we saw this view on the way back:

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This forest appears to be recovering from fire devastation and what a haunting sight, especially in contrast to the serene vista beyond.  And finally,  there’s this:

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Just, wow.

There are worse things than the hike that never was 🙂

More Glacier Magic

Did you know that it doesn’t get dark in Montana in the summer until after 10pm?  Well I didn’t! Last night when we headed over to the restaurant in the condo complex it was after 5 (yes, we are early birds here as well) and the sun was still way high in the sky.  It was also the warmest part of the day and the golf course was hopping.  Since we are committed to hitting the trails before the busier times of day we are going to bed when it is still light out.  A new experience for sure.  Anyway, that’s the Montana tidbit of the day.  On to today’s hike…

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Sperry Trail and Snyder Lake

Today we did an 8.5 mile out and back hike to beautiful Snyder Lake in Glacier National Park.  We are still somewhat limited in hiking options in the park as they are finishing plowing/clearing the Going to the Sun road, the central road which runs across the park from east to west.  Because of this there are numerous trailheads that we can’t access yet.  The good news is that we expect the road to be open by the weekend at which time we will have many more options.

We decided on the Sperry Trail to Snyder Lake even though it is longer than what I usually like to do.  I thought it was time that I push it a little and try something new.  Plus, being able to handle a longer hike opens up many more options out here.  The weather this morning was clear and beautiful.  It was 48 degrees when we started and about 68 degrees when we were done.

Like yesterday, we started out early and had the trail to the lake mostly to ourselves.  The entire first half of the hike was uphill (4.25 miles!) but the elevation was achieved through many series of switchbacks on very well-groomed trails with soft pine needles underfoot.  We hopped over lots of babbling brooks and at points the trail narrowed with tall foliage on either side.  The sound of fast-running Sperry Creek accompanied us for the first few miles as we climbed.  Again we clapped, chatted and sang the whole way, ever-vigilant about the bears.  No sightings today (sigh of relief).

Eventually, mountains peeked out from behind the tall trees surrounding us promising some exciting scenery:

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Shortly thereafter the trail opened up to reveal a hillside of rocks that appeared to have been left behind by avalanches (no idea if that’s the case).  It made for a visually interesting contrast to all the green. Here’s a shot of me taking a short breather on the rocks:

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As we went on, the mountains that we suspected surrounded Lake Snyder came more into view:

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That’s David patiently waiting for me to stop taking pictures and get moving!  After over four miles of trail we were both anxious for the big reveal.  Again the view did not disappoint:

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This mountain is known as “little Matterhorn”.  You can see the resemblance to the big one, right? Here’s a close-up:

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And another view of the lake:

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The return trip was entirely downhill and we appreciated the help of gravity.  Admittedly, our toes in our boots took a bit of a beating but it was pretty easy going.  From this direction we saw some beautiful vistas of the sun reflecting off the snow-capped mountains:

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Finally we did have a little company (of the non-ursine variety):

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We followed this guy right out to the trailhead and watched him gallop across the road and disappear into the woods!

After some lunch and snoozing we are revived and ready to find some good local eats for dinner.  A brief look into dining options in Columbia Falls (where we are staying) and nearby Whitefish Lake suggests that Montana has quite a bit to offer in terms of locally-sourced eating.  And there are lots of gluten-free options.  A pleasant surprise.

More tomorrow…

 

 

Welcome to Glacier!

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We’ve arrived and what a great start to our trip!

After two and a half days of driving through spectacular country we are happily ensconced in our condo in lovely Columbia Falls, Montana. I was not prepared for how utterly beautiful our entire drive would be.  Our route began with a night in Flagstaff, AZ and from there we headed for Midway, UT (about half an hour outside of Salt Lake) to visit with our friends Rachel and Bob and their three wonderful kids.  Our final day of driving took us from Utah through Idaho (stunning!) and finally on to Montana.  The drive, while very long was so breathtaking that we barely did anything but spend the time oohing and aahing.

Yesterday was our first full day in the area, and since it was raining we decided to navigate over to Glacier National Park (about a 20 minute drive), check out the visitor center, buy our park pass and get a sense of the best way to approach hiking in the park.  Some of the park is still closed to vehicle traffic because of last week’s snow storm and avalanche!  We expect that by the time we leave Glacier most or all of what we want to see will be open.  During this initial visit we caught glimpses of the lakes and snow-capped mountains but couldn’t truly appreciate them because of fog and rain.

Avalanche Lake Hike

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Today, we decided to begin our hiking at the Avalanche Lake Trail, a 4.5 mile hike that is one of the most popular on the west side of the park.  After seeing the potential log-jam of traffic, both to enter and park near the trailhead, we arrived before 8am.  Good move.  It was chilly but quiet and it didn’t take long before we understood why this trail is so popular.

The hike starts out in a cedar forest and immediately the rushing water comes into view:

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Actually David took some video on his phone which really gives you the idea of the power of the water but I can’t figure out yet how to import the video into this post.  Before we leave I will though!

On our hike out to Avalanche Lake we were, for the most part, alone out there so we were particularly careful to make lots of noise to keep the bears away.  For us that included singing (David did a particularly excellent rendition of American Pie), clapping and stating (loudly) “BLIND TURN” whenever we couldn’t see well in front of us.  Lest you think that our concern about the bears was in any way unfounded or exaggerated, we received this along with our pass to the park:

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Luckily for us, keeping a conversation going for the duration of the hike wasn’t particularly difficult.

In the initial stages of this hike amid the cedars and pine trees I couldn’t help but wonder when that Glacier magic was going to kick in.  After all, to this point the area reminded me of the Poconos. And then this came into view:

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Wow!  Definitely not on the east coast anymore.  And I was happy about that.

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So was David.

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After about 2 miles of this gorgeousness (and the accompanying singing and clapping) we reached Avalanche Lake.  It was still pretty overcast at this point, and initially the highlight appeared to be the lake with the spectacular falls coming down the mountain in the background:

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We walked along the perimeter of the lake (those waterproof hiking boots came in handy!) in absolute awe.  We saw this guy fly fishing and I had to get a shot because it reminded me of the wonderful movie “And a River Runs Through It”.

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After a few minutes though the sun came out a bit and the true magnificence of this place was on full display:

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Check out the color of that water.  And how about this way…

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This photo definitely has a future in a frame somewhere in my house!

There are makeshift benches  around the perimeter of the lake.  Here am I enjoying this amazing scenery:

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As we started our return to the trailhead, the blue of the water was still visible through the trees:

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By this time the crowds were starting to arrive so there was plenty of noise on the trail.  We enjoyed hiking back without the stress of making our presence known to the bears.  As we were driving back to the park entrance we could finally see some of the beautiful views that had been hidden behind the fog:

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It’s hard to believe that anything can beat this day but according to folks who know Glacier well, the amazing is just beginning!

Huckleberries

As we drove back to the condo, hungry and looking forward to lunch we stopped here:

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Apparently huckleberries are grown around here and pies, jams and other goodies made with huckleberries are local favorites.  We bought this and each had a little for dessert.

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Yum!  And now it’s definitely time for a nap…

“Shoot From The Hip”

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Gearing Up For Glacier

Next week David and I are taking our sun-drenched selves out of town and heading north, north, north to Glacier National Park in Montana.  And with the trip looming, we finally got around to thinking about what we wanted and needed to bring.  I hadn’t really given too much thought to what we might need for this trip, but after lots of SNOW fell in the area just last week we started planning in earnest.  Really? SNOW? Well, yeah, GLACIER.  I think on some level I didn’t think that the photos of the snow-capped mountains would have anything to do with me.  After all, it is almost July!  Snow, at least any that I have to deal with underfoot, or, god forbid, in my car is completely unacceptable.  I spent my week in New Jersey with my teeth chattering wrapped in sweaters and muttering about my thin blood.  Yup, I’ve become that warm weather person.

We are driving up to Glacier by way of Salt Lake City where we will be visiting with some old friends of mine.  Once in Montana we are staying in a condo in a resort not far from the west entrance to the park. Our plan is to settle into our temporary (and very comfortable) home with all the conveniences and venture out each day in search of gorgeous hikes, great exercise and photo ops (for my blog of course!).  So in some ways our Montana adventure will mimic our life in Tucson (there is a Costco nearby, although, sadly, no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods)  but we had to acknowledge that our minimalist approach to hiking in the desert might not work so well up in Montana. So off we went to our local hiking store for supplies:

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Lots of dollars later we had outfitted ourselves with some must-haves and here I am modeling my new clothes:

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I know, it’s a lot of look 🙂   These uber-boots are fabulous, if not much of a fashion statement.  They are waterproof, flexible, lightweight and already dirty from our trial hike here this morning. The rain jacket (it rains a lot in Montana; that’s why it’s so green) folds up into a small pouch so I can be ready for anything.  And there’s room underneath for a fleece if it gets very cold or we are out at night (NOT!)  The bright color will help rescuers find me in case of…David’s jacket is red and we will look like a pair of M and M’s.

In addition to these articles of clothing we needed a few more supplies, also in case of…

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In Tucson, I’m lucky if I remember a tweezers for when the jumping cholla get me, but this is Montana, so we need more things.  Think blisters and Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail  (From the book,” Wild”).  Her toenails fell off!  Well that won’t happen to me.  But if it does, I’ll be ready.

And of course we need these in case of…

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You light one of these in Sabino canyon in June and the whole park will go up in flames!  But not in Montana and you never know…

And finally our trip to Montana would not be complete without this:

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That’s BEAR SPRAY folks.  And it is most recommended that when hiking in Glacier you carry this.  Apparently it is rather common (decidedly different from not uncommon) to run into bears (Grizzly or Black) in Glacier.  OMG.  Leave that gun at home because it will do you no good.  David researched the bear thing a bit and there was actually one article that suggested that you “try to find out what the bear is up to” so you can decide how to respond.  WHAT?  David (who will be all about protecting me) will have this spray in his holster attached to his belt loop and at the ready.  I’m particularly glad that the one we selected has a glow in the dark safety wedge which should be in the “off position”.  This way, should you need to send that bear running, you are all ready to “shoot from the hip”.   You can’t make this stuff up.

All kidding aside (oh, was I kidding?) I am getting very excited about our trip, and I fully expect that we will see and do amazing things, relax, enjoy each other and take some stunning photos, which will be much more interesting to my readers than the contents of my suitcase.  Bears or no bears, I’m sure it will be a memorable two weeks.

And for a final note today,  I want to send a get-well shout out to my father-in-law, Ron, who is in the hospital in New Jersey and not feeling so great right now.  I hope that reading this and reminiscing about his many wonderful trips to Glacier will help lift his spirits. We are sending our love…