Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Hiking Journal - Entry 3

Wednesday, May 10 – Apgar Lookout – 9 miles out and back

It's hard to believe we have been in Montana for 2 months - ONLY 2 months?!  We have packed in so much already, my senses tell me it's longer. I have learned a great deal about the flora and fauna of the Flathead Valley, such that my notes from our early hikes seem almost childish.  But guess what?  You are the beneficiary of my augmented knowledge - I am going to take editorial licence and ensure that my identifications are correct, even if they don't reflect the notes I took that day. OK with you?

Behold the Glacier Lily (which I originally identified as a trout lily).  I still remember the flash of gold next to the trail and my sense of excitement.  I asked Number One Son (#1S) to hold its head up so that I could get a good shot of the stamens.  As I learned later, this lily is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring.  It is especially known for its capability to emerge through the snow as it is melting.  So, when you see a proliferation of freshly bloomed Glacier Lilies, you know that the snow has only recently receded.  It is known by several common names, including yellow avalanche lily, glacier lily, and dogtooth fawn lily. 

The Flathead is currently at high risk of fire due to dry conditions and an incoming weather front that brings strong winds that will fan any fires that exist or start.  The Apgar Lookout Trail is an example of the outcome of wildfires, such as the one in 1994 that cleared many of the trees from the slopes.

This saddens me, of course, but it also means that you have clear views of the mountains in all directions.
As you can see, snow was still abundant the day of the hike.  While it can be challenging to traverse, snow has its benefits.  Tracks!  Based on animal tracks (hoofprints) and scat (poop to you and me), bighorn sheep had gone before us on this trail. 

Great pictures!  Mountains are always majestic, but the snowcaps make them pop.  Apgar Lookout peers over Lake McDonald, which provided a grand mirror for the peaks at the far end of the lake.

Despite the prevalence of the white stuff, the ground squirrels were out in force at the summit.  Also, a Rufous Hummingbird buzzed us during our snack break!  I was gob-smacked (British term for speechless) that it would be flying around at that altitude!!!  What could it possibly have been pollinating?

We reluctantly headed down.  In the wet areas near streams, Western Tailed Blue butterflies would leave the mud and flit around us - all my attempts to creep up on them for photos were desperate failures.  As a consolation prize, I snapped these trillium, a known spring flower from my Ohio days.

Trillium turn pink as they reach the end of the bloom
Toward the end of the hike, a bridge crosses McDonald Creek.  A lone fisherman had left his chair to seek a better vantage point.  Looking behind me, I could see the junction of the creek with the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, clearly carrying a load of silt transported by the snow as it left the slopes of the mountains upstream.

There is something about expectation that sets a boundary, isn't there?  We originally planned for a 5 mile hike; this expanded to 9 miles round trip because the road was closed 2 miles before the trailhead.  As best we could determine, it was the fault of the nesting pair of osprey - they had chosen a tree quite close to the road!  So, rather than blame the ospreys, we went for pie!
From the Huckleberry Patch website: Located nine miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park, HUNGRY HORSE, MONTANA claims fame as the wild huckleberry capital of the West. This sweet tart wild berry grows only in moist mountain areas and cannot be commercially grown. Wild berries are not sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers. Berries are hand picked when ripe and processed without artificial colors, flavorings or corn syrup. "Vaccinium" huckleberries are blue-black or blue-reddish, depending upon soil and habitat and grows on a slender shrub 2 - 6 feet high.

Linking to Nature Notes


  1. What a wonderful hike! So very lovely. You can't beat Glacier. Another great town to try is Bigfork. :) Kit

  2. Dearest Angie; This is Miyako (orchid) from Japan. I happened to click Maggie's last week's page. How careless of me that I thought your question for her is for me. One of the reason is your comment was in the reply form of the comment for her. If you still need the advice, would you please go to the page so that I can avoid the long comment here. I can paste here, though.
    I might come back here after her clink started.
    Sincerely, Miyako*

  3. Hello, Glacier is one of my favorite parks. Beautiful scenery . The Glacier Lily and Trillium are beautiful wildflowers. Sounds like you had an awesome hike. Great collection of photos.

  4. I would thank the ospreys for the detour if it included a slice of huckleberry pie! And you hiked all that way deserved it! You really chose a little piece of heaven as your retirement home... thanks for sharing some of it.

  5. Hi Angie.. wow, I enjoyed reading your blog so much! First I love the bamboo backgrounds as I'm a bamboo lover having 4 varieties in my garden. And I enjoyed learning about those yellow wildflowers, I've never heard of them! And I'm very impressed with that hike you did and to capture amazing photos of the lake like that.. bravo!! Have a super week! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. Thanks, Angie for visiting the Garden Spot. I love your photos of Montana. While we love our Colorado Rockies, your Montana mountains are spectacular. You will miss them in Ohio. I don't know how far the painted bunting goes, but we have never seen them here in Colorado. We see the indigo bunting and the lazuli bunting as they pass through on their migration to somewhere in the spring. I enjoyed your beautiful blog.

  7. Wild berries are so tasty...would be just about my favorite things to eat! Love your beautiful photos. I would SO love to travel to that part of the country this year. Enjoy your week! Hugs, Diane

  8. You really are embracing the new area you live in. That's great. It would be nice to visit Glacier Park. There are so many beautiful National Parks. Wildfires are a problem this year in the area our son lives in because of the wet Spring and all the grasses that grew and are now dry. Ouch. We just found out our niece is moving to Kalispell so maybe we should kill two birds with one stone and visit her and Glacier! :) That pie looks real good.

  9. Beautiful place for hiking. Very scenic.

  10. I want to go with you in that hike. I have not stood on snow, the nearest i've seen are mountain snow caps in Turkey and NZ, but they are very far! Oh i can't imagine my jubilation if i can hike on those trails!

  11. I've heard that your part of the world is gorgeous and your photos prove it! Personally, I don't get hung up on flower names, I just enjoy their beauty!
    You mentioned trying LinkWithin. It's easy, just go to the site and fill in the few items to get the Widget.

  12. Welcome to Nature Notes Angie and to blogging. I always like to check out a new the about page and some earlier posts to get a feel for the blog. You really write so well and document your new retirement and the adventure in Montana that I ended up reading a lot of posts. I have been blogging for 10 years and have not written as much lately. I keep my written nature journal but have not been getting enough up on the blog. Nature Notes is about 8 years old and has always been a small meme, but I have gotten to visit so many countries and to meet fellow nature lovers. The one thing we can all share no matter where we live...nature..I look forward to following your blog...Michelle

  13. I enjoyed huckleberry pie in the Belton In outside of the western entrance to Glacier NP when we stayed there last summer. Here in Colorado the Star Lily is the first flower we see. It is very small and white. Grows in the foothills and sub alpine regions.


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