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…

The Hidden Lake Trail At Logan’s Pass

Last year when we visited Glacier National Park, we had to wait until our second week to reach Logan’s Pass.  A summer snow had blanketed the area, and crews were busy clearing the Going To The Sun Road, the east/west road that traverses the entire park. When the road finally opened up, we were treated to some of the most spectacular views the park has to offer.  Logan’s Pass, however, was covered in snow, and the Hidden Lake was frozen and pretty much inaccessible.  So we were particularly excited to revisit this area.  We were not disappointed.  While we still did some trudging up snow-covered areas, the hike was an absolute feast for the eyes.  Here’s a sampling of what we saw:

Wildflowers!  They were everywhere (where there wasn’t snow):

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Charming animals:

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(There was a spotting of a grizzly bear and her cubs.  We steered clear so no photos of her!)

One of the most beautiful stretches of trail I have ever seen:

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(I think David was having an OMG moment– I so get it)

Then there was this:

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And this:

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The clouds rolled in just as we were heading back out:

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It was pretty perfect.

Inner Wisdom

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Yes that’s me, meditating out on the Granite Park Chalet trail, about two and half miles in (or should I say, up).

This trail kicked my butt last year (twice) and I didn’t do any better with it this year.  Admittedly, I expected it to be easier this year since I feel like I’m in better hiking shape.  But alas, no.  This is NOT an easy hike.  It is an uphill grind for almost four miles and then four steepish miles back down.  Before I sat down to commune with myself and the universe I was winded and miserable, and I still couldn’t decide if I wanted to continue.  David, undoubtedly sensing that my ego was running amok (but I SHOULD be able to finish…!) suggested I sit on this log, enjoy the scenery (we are in one of the most gorgeous places on earth after all) and meditate a bit.

So I sat (Ahhhhh!), and looked around me and saw this:

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Then I closed my eyes, and started to meditate.  As a familiar feeling of peace descended on me, all the “shoulds” and “buts” fell away.  I had a knowing that my ego had indeed run amok.  I had stopped being present, and instead of enjoying the spectacular views and my spectacular husband I was fretting about why I wasn’t able to handle a decidedly strenuous climb.

Like many of us, I can struggle with tuning into what I really want.  I can be hijacked by feelings of inadequacy or competitive tendencies that drown out my inner voice, the one that is aligned with the me that knows I am good enough no matter what I “accomplish”.  And in that hijacked place I lose perspective and make decisions that seldom serve me well. Plus I’m not all that wonderful to be around.  In the quiet and stillness of meditation I gain access to my inner voice and my inner wisdom.  In this case I quickly knew that while I felt some disappointment that I didn’t have as much stamina as I would have liked, I was ready to turn around and enjoy, rather than dread, the rest of the hike and our day. And that’s just what I did.

As we made our way home, we were treated to some gorgeous scenery, and I was present for all of it.  Here are some of the highlights in pictures (for you Shannon!):

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And all is well.

Travel Like a (Vegan) Boss

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Greetings from Glacier National Park!

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that David and I did this exact trip a year ago, and it was so fantastic that we decided to go back for two weeks this year.  We arrived yesterday after over two full days of driving.  It felt great to get out and hike this morning, and breathtaking Avalanche Lake was our first stop.  Everything feels the same, but different.  First of all, the weather is hot, hot!  Last year we did some hiking in the snow.  This Tucson girl prefers the heat!

The biggest difference from last year to this year though is that this year we are vegans.  And as all of my vegan pals know, that can complicate things unless you plan, plan, plan!  So that’s just what we did.  From the drive to get up here to hanging out at the park to finding reasonably accommodating restaurants we are on it and I’m convinced that this will be a smashing trip.  Here’s how we’ve done it so far…

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Our general plan for driving up here was to do a short leg from Tucson to Flagstaff on Thursday night (about four hours), stay over in Flagstaff, then continue on to Park City, Utah on Friday.   Since we did this trip last year, we knew that between cities we would be treated to spectacular scenery and absolutely nothing healthy or vegan to eat.  So we took a little cooler with some cold packs for all the perishables (Trader Joe’s vegan wraps, hummus, veggies, peanut butter) and tossed the rest of the nosh in shopping bags in the back seat.  The Boy Scouts have nothing on us as you can see from our pile of provisions!  BE PREPARED!

Along with bringing our own eats, we checked out Happycow.net to see where we might be able to grab a vegan bite in Flagstaff and/or Park City.  We found a funky-looking place for breakfast in Flagstaff called the Whyld Ass Cafe (really!), and according to the info the place opened at 5:30am.  So we took a few extra minutes to find this place hoping we could get a muffin and coffee and be on our way.  I like to frequent as many vegan restaurants as I can so they stay in business. Unfortunately, when we found the place it looked closed (like for good).  Not sure if that’s the case, but there was no sign of life there.  So, we found the nearest Starbucks, got some soy lattes and made some peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast.  No problem for us but a good reminder that while Happycow is a good resource, it’s not perfect.  For me a little bag of Starbucks almonds was not going to cut it.  I was glad to have my provisions.

En route to Park City, we stopped at a highway convenience place and munched on our Trader Joe wraps in the Burger King.  I was dying to find some picnic tables or anywhere else to enjoy our lunch, but the options were non-existent.  The whole scene there was pretty depressing and an acute reminder of how important it is that we spread the word about the health benefits of plant-based eating.  At least we were able to eat our own healthy and satisfying food.  By the way, if you haven’t tried Trader Joe’s vegan wraps, you’re missing out.  There’s a great selection (falafel, unchicken, lentil and veggie) and they travel well.  These are our go-to sandwiches for travel of any kind.  Convenient, tasty and filling.

Once in Park City, we unloaded our little cooler and put everything in the hotel room fridge overnight.  This Best Western happened to have a larger than average mini-fridge with a freezer area for refreezing our cold packs.  I hadn’t asked about this in advance, but in the future I will.  It made a big difference to be able to put all our stuff in a refrigerator overnight and those teeny tiny ones don’t fit much.  In Park City, we found a place (also on Happycow) that had a decent selection of vegan options.  It was right on the main drag, and it’s called 501 Main:

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We learned a lot here, particularly that the vegan food you request might not actually be vegan.  Case in point:

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We treated ourselves to “vegan” onion slivers with our drinks.  As you can see, the chipotle dipping sauce looks a bit creamy.  We made it clear to the waiter that we wanted the vegan option.  He obviously had no idea what vegan actually is, because when David asked him what was in the sauce he said “buttermilk”.  Uh, no.  He replaced it with another fruity dressing which didn’t exactly go with fried onions.  Maybe that was the universe suggesting that I could do better than fried onions.

I ended up having vegan chili (mine is much better) and a salad (mine is much better), and David ordered one of their specials, a vegetable risotto in a potato crust (vegan option).  When the dish arrived David dug in and lifted up a fork full of stringy cheese.  Um, no again.  Apologies, apologies and the vegan version arrived:

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This was actually very tasty (Mine isn’t better because I’ve never made it!).  We enjoyed our time at 501 Main hanging at the bar and watching World Cup Soccer, but the food bit was a grind.  It was a reminder that we really need to be vigilant.

Day two of driving took us out of Utah, through Idaho and into Montana.  Lunch again was in a truck stop place, but this time we munched on homemade hummus, veggies and crackers in the McDonalds.  Interestingly, the McDonalds was pretty empty so we didn’t have to deal with as much of a sensory onslaught.  Everyone seemed to be eating at Subway.  No better, but at least we could chill in peace.

Many hours and lots of chips and mango slices later we arrived in Columbia Falls.  Because we are staying in a time-share community, we have a terrific one bedroom condo with a full kitchen and all of the amenities.  We’ve  always enjoyed vacationing this way, but it’s particularly helpful now that we’re vegan.  This area has no vegan restaurants, and while we can make our way through some Asian and pizza places our plan is to cook most meals ourselves.  So as soon as we got settled we ran out to the local supermarket for some staples.

We started the day today with a berry smoothie (we brought our Vitamix with us) and hit the trail.  In the afternoon we needed to go to Costco for some additional items, and we were thrilled to find a Natural Grocer across the street.  TOTAL SCORE!  If you don’t have Natural Grocer near you, it is a store of all organic products including produce.  The selection of vegan products is excellent.  I’m now certain that we will have all we need for these two weeks.

I’m sure that my desire to cook will eventually start to wane, and we will venture out into Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Kalispell to see what we can find in the local restaurants.  A few places look promising, and as we make our way through the local offerings I will report back on how we’re faring.   In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a whole lot more of this:

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and this:

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Feeling Grateful for Big Cats and Mosquitoes

Yes, really!  What happened was that when we arrived at the trailhead for this morning’s hike on the west side of the park, we were met by a park ranger who told us that a mountain lion had been seen in the area.  Um, no.  He also mentioned that the mosquitoes were active;  well, that was clear by the swarms buzzing around us as we got out of the car.  Stagnant water alert!!  We hightailed it out of there and moved to Plan B which was this:

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We passed this trailhead yesterday and had initially been reluctant to drive as far today.  But after the mosquito debacle we figured that any hike at a higher elevation would be a better bet.  This hike was an 8 mile out and back to a lodge called the Granite Park Chalet.  It was rated “strenuous” and with a 2450 ft. climb to the chalet I couldn’t make it past the 3 mile mark on the way up.  I don’t give up easily but I know my limits.  It was all good though because not only did we enjoy another breathtaking (and mosquito-free) hike, I got to see those wildflowers that I missed yesterday!

This hike was different than the others we’ve been on because it is mostly high elevation ridge hiking.  This makes for great visibility (i.e. easier to spot the bears) and the view of the trail itself as it hugs the mountain is beautiful.   It looks like this:

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You can see the wildflowers (which I’ll show close-ups of in a minute) as well as the trees that were burned in the fire of 2003.  Here’s another shot of me where you can see more of the trees as well as the ever-present snowcapped mountains.

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Here are some of the views we saw along the way:
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After looking at these photos I’m sure you can guess why I pressed on even when the trail really started kicking my butt!  Admittedly I was a little bit more focused on the wildflowers.  Here’s a look at them:

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We’ve seen these flowers growing all over the park but I can’t remember the name of them.  They grow very tall and here’s a fun shot of a stretch of the trail lined with them:

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Aren’t they wonderful?  David says that whenever I’m taking pictures of flowers I have a smile on my face.  Just looking at the photos makes me smile 🙂  At points along the trail we saw fields of flowers but they are harder to see with the sun reflecting off of them.  This shot gives you an idea of what it looked like:

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I took all of the photos of the flowers on the way down the mountain when I wasn’t worried about managing my breathing!    As we neared the end of the hike this came into view:

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This really shows the fire-ravaged forest and the effect of an avalanche on the brittle trees.  Pretty stunning.  And finally, this is me celebrating the end of the hike on a bridge in front of a powerful waterfall:

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Yeah, I was pretty jazzed about being done.

On a final note, Happy Birthday Dad!!!  You would love this place…

 

 

 

 

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…