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.

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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A Vegan Weekend in Chicago

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Well these vegan peanut butter cups were pretty divine, but I’ll get to them in a moment.

We just returned from a wonderful (if a lot chilly!) weekend visiting with Anne in Chicago.  Since going vegan it was the first time that David and I were traveling.  We did some advance planning figuring that snacking and breakfast might be the hardest things to negotiate.  We brought along plenty of dried fruit and nuts and a half a leftover vegan pumpkin bread (very delicious, recipe here) that I baked before we left.  Pumpkin bread and soy lattes from Starbucks did the job (if a bit sweetly) for breakfast.

It turns out that Chicago is a very vegan-friendly place, and I have Anne to thank for scoping out the local options.  While Anne isn’t vegan she’s an adventurous eater in general and she loves her veggies.  When we first arrived in Chicago on Friday, we went just a few blocks from the Congress Plaza hotel where we were staying to a health food store/cafe.  Since it was sleeting (yes, sleeting!) it was a perfect choice.  I don’t have any pictures of that but we all ate vegan dishes that were tasty.  I had a “sunshine salad”–a basic green salad with chickpeas.

That night we headed over to a wonderful restaurant in Anne’s neighborhood in Edgewater called “Uncommon Ground”.  We had been there once before in our pre-vegan days, and we were delighted with our vegan meal of salads and vegetable mole with a masa cake.  If you’re ever in that neck of the woods I recommend this restaurant.  It’s truly a place for everyone, and the emphasis is on locally-sourced healthy food.  Plus the toasty fireplaces are such a welcome sight when you come in from the cold and wind. You can link to the restaurant website here.

Anne and I spent Saturday afternoon together exploring downtown and doing some shopping.  For lunch we stopped at an Italian restaurant, but I can’t remember the name of it (oops!)   It was a reasonably-priced meeting and lunchtime place in the loop.  I put away my gluten-free diet (I’m not celiac) for the afternoon and ordered the pasta aglio e olio (garlic and oil).  I did ask if the pasta contained eggs (no!) before ordering and it was a warming and tasty lunch.  I was very encouraged by this because a bowl of simple pasta can be a go-to dish most anywhere.  A great travel option.

The Chicago Diner

Our destination for a pre-theater dinner was the famous Chicago Diner, the go-to fun place for vegans (and vegetarians) in the Belmont section of the city.  This restaurant has been a part of the Chicago dining scene since 1983.  The menu is full of typical veganized diner fare as well as more classic veggie entrees.  We had both a great time and fantastic meal there.  We actually started out with poutine, a decidedly unhealthy pile of waffle fries with brown and veggie cheese sauces.  I forgot to take a photo and in a flash these were gone.  But here’s what came next:

David’s seitan “reuben sandwich” which is actually a trademarked dish:

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Anne’s lentil and nut loaf:

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And my cajun black bean burger:

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It was all crazy good and as you might imagine, filling.   I took half of my burger in a doggie bag and David and I had it for lunch the next day on the plane!

Oh, and then came some dessert including the peanut butter cups from the photo up top.  These were obscenely delicious, and one also came all the way home to Tucson with us.

Clearly the Chicago Diner is not a health food restaurant.  It’s full of calorie-laden comfort food that just happens to be vegan.  What I loved about the place though was the current, busy hip vibe right down to the 80’s music.  The restaurant was packed and tables turned over fast.  This was a mainstream place for vegans and non-vegans.  So much fun.  I’m pretty sure that any future trips to Chicago will include a visit to the Chicago Diner.  If you want to read more about this incredibly successful restaurant you can link to their website here and see what’s on the menu.

We had a great time this weekend.  It was such a treat to have so much time with Anne, and we all enjoyed exploring the great vegan food.  Success all around  🙂

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…

 

 

 

Bright yellow…what?

When we were first driving in Montana towards our destination over a week ago, we spotted stunning swatches of yellow farmland.  At first it was hard to tell whether we were looking at actual crops or very dense yellow wildflowers.  We meant to look into it but we never followed up.  So today, after completing a hike on the Whitefish trail we were heading to the Costco in Kalispell to load up on more hiking and driving snacks (don’t you love the excuse to buy the BIG bag?!) when we spotted more of the bright yellow fields.  On the way back I got a better look and was able to snap some photos from the passenger side of the car.  Check this out:

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And:

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And:

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Not bad considering we were going 60 miles an hour.  How breathtaking.

By this time, we had seen enough to know we were looking at some type of crop but I really had no idea what it was.  Any guesses out there? Well, actually, these are canola fields!  Here’s the link that clued me in.  Apparently the demand for canola is such that farmers are being encouraged to grow more.  Considering canola oil is often mentioned as one of the healthier oil varieties I guess that’s not surprising.  It’s certainly a boon for anyone looking for a killer photo op!

Week Two

So we are in our second week of our vacation, and we are chock full of plans for seeing more of Glacier (from the east side next).  We are struck by how different a two week vacation feels than a one week vacation.  I don’t think I had a two week vacation (away from home) since my kids were little and we rented a house for two weeks on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

Aside from having the time to drive here and back, the actual time spent in Montana is much more leisurely and relaxing.  There’s so much to see and do here, both in Glacier National Park and out, and yet we find ourselves with time to read, hang, find great restaurants and have long, leisurely meals (the food is superb here).  We expect to see and hike all of the areas of Glacier that interest us but we also have been able to engage with the local culture.  Just yesterday after watching the Wimbledon final (see what I mean about time for everything?) we took a fast walk around the complex where we are staying and drove to Whitefish Lake where there is a public beach.  I don’t think that we would have taken time away from exploring the park if we were only scheduled to be here for a week.

That being said I do miss my garden and bits of my Tucson routine.  Blogging, knitting and chatting with my kids help keep me feeling connected. Today Jeff called and reported that he took five tomatoes and a handful of baby zucchini home with him after checking on the house.  I guess I really didn’t need to stay home in order to manage our “harvest” 🙂

 

 

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 🙂

A Well-Earned Day Off

Visiting Whitefish

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After our long hike yesterday both David and I were feeling the effects today.  Plenty of stiff muscles!  While we spent a bit of this gorgeous sunny day researching new hiking spots for the rest of the week (so many to choose from!) we decided to visit the lovely town of Whitefish which is just a short drive from our place in Columbia Falls.   We were instantly charmed by the downtown area nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains:

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I think one of the reasons we feel so at home here is that the vibe is so similar to that of Tucson.  Gorgeous setting, active, progressive and friendly population and mountains everywhere.   The more time I spend in this part of Montana the more I like it.  We didn’t have any particular plan in mind when we arrived (except to find a place for lunch) so we meandered around the shops, galleries and restaurants.  The shops were charming and except for the Ace Hardware you see in the photo there wasn’t a chain store in sight.  We sat outside at one Bar and Grill and had a great lunch although I didn’t think to take a picture of the restaurant.  As we were leaving though we spotted this rooftop place:

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Isn’t that great?  We will definitely give it a try the next time we are in Whitefish for lunch.

I’m not much of a shopper so I didn’t spend too much time inside the shops but I was charmed by so much of the wonderful signage.  Check these out:

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Any town that has a quilt/fabric shop is ok in my book.

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Jeff’s fiancé’s name is Shanti, and she’s a yoga instructor! Isn’t that a hoot?!  If they ever want to settle in Whitefish she will be all set…

There was one shop we did go into though:

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This place was a chocolate shop, used book store and consignment shop all in one.  As Anne is fond of saying “every good thing”!   And I had no intention of leaving town without some chocolates.  The shop was as wonderful inside as it was outside:

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The candy counter.

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The book nook.

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Me enjoying my sugar high from the decadent dark chocolate-covered marshmallow.  Yum.  Better hit the trails tomorrow 🙂