Friday, October 26, 2018

My Hiking Journal: Entry 16

White Angelica
If you're a hiker, how do you choose your hikes?  What makes for a good hike that you would be willing to repeat?  It could be proximity to your house, stunning views, unique topography, access to a lake or river for fishing.  Some factors may discourage you - significant elevation gain, high popularity of the trail, long distances.

On July 21, 2017, we were swayed to select Stanton Lake due to distance (only 4 miles out and back), access to fishing, and the location (but more about that later).  #1 Son would be accompanying us, and the 'boys' were hankering to do some fishing together.  So off we went.
The trail climbs steadily, but it's not too strenuous, and within a mile and a bit we reached the foot of the lake.  Along the way, we were teased by partial glimpses of Great Northern Mountain.  The rushing sound of the creek leaving the lake could be heard on this section of the trail.

Once at the lakeshore, the trail flattened.  We encountered numerous hikers, and a group of campers occupied the shore at the head of the lake, but nonetheless the boys located peaceful spots to cast a line.  #1 Son caught one lake trout.

I kept myself occupied with the plentiful flora and fauna around me.

Stanton Lake, looking west with view of Great Northern Mountain

Great Northern Mountain
It didn't take much more for us to conclude that this is a trail worth recommending to others, which we have done regularly.  In fact, #1 Son brought his girlfriend here later that same summer, and we returned this summer with the couple that built our house.  Also, ever since this hike, #1 Son has been inspired by Great Northern Mountain, which he would like to climb some day.  (It is assailed from the opposite side that you see here, and involves 4800 feet of elevation gain over a six mile journey round trip. Whew!)  Watch this space!

Now, back to location.  Faithful readers will know about huckleberries, which pop up in my posts in pies and cakes and other delectables.  An important factor in selecting a hike is proximity to a restaurant that serves huck pie … what better way to conclude a hiking day?  Stanton Lake ticks the box - my 4Runner easily found its way to the parking lot of the Huckleberry Patch, conveniently situated on our way home!

Linking to:

All Seasons

Mosaic Monday

Nature Notes

Our World Tuesday
Our World Tuesday Graphic

Saturday's Critters

Skywatch Friday

Wandering Camera

Wednesday Around the World

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Final Chapter - Showing off a 'small island' - Part 11

I am misty-eyed at the moment.  It's those darn posts of mine that I just re-read.  It seemed like a good idea.  After all, I am about to wrap up the epic saga of the UK tour we enjoyed giving to my sister and her husband during the summer of 2017.  Surely, a look in the rearview mirror would get me in the right frame of mind for this final chapter?  What it got me was deep into the Kleenex box.  
Derwent Water viewed from Cat Bells trail

My adoration for northeast England is acute, and spending an hour gazing at sublime photos and reviewing narrative was a tad emotional.
Newlands Valley from Cat Bells

What did I see?  Countryside patched with ancient drystone walls.  Ruined abbeys slumbering peacefully in lush valleys.  Rivers and waterfalls that pursue their courses as they have through the millennia.  The glory of formal gardens, that existed only in the imagination of the designer hundreds of years of ago.  Historic churches, silent witnesses to the faithful housed in their floors and cemeteries.  Pubs that could tell many a tale.

And I realized that capturing the beauty of my adopted country has given me great joy, a joy I will grieve now that I write the final chapter of the travelogue.  (see previous posts about this trip to the UK - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10) .
Sheep under a massive oak tree

But I will postpone my moisture for a minute or two, so I can share our last adventure from that trip - a hike to Cat Bells Summit.

Any walker/hiker needs fuel for the journey, and it is wise to start the day with a full English at the bed and breakfast.
A traditional Full English breakfast includes back bacon, fried, poached or 
scrambled eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or 
toast with butter, sausages, baked beans and black pudding.  (I did
without the black pudding!)

Fortified, our good fortune continued when we located a parking spot right at the trailhead, which is most unusual, given the popularity of this walk.

The "steep" bit
Renowned Lake District writer and walker Alfred Wainwright acknowledges the reputation of Cat Bells among fellwalkers of all abilities:  "It is one of the great favorites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved.  Its popularity is well-deserved, its shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble."
Yes, we saw a mole along the way ...
High Seat as seen from Cat Bells
Newlands Valley from Cat Bells

I must say that I was very proud of my sister and brother in law when they conquered this fell.  Their fitness level had improved dramatically in the time leading up to their visit, owing to frequent walks around their neighborhood.  Cat Bells 'topped off' the UK hikes we completed during their stay.

Panorama shot from Cat Bells

Cat Bells Summit

And in more way than one - when we returned to our car, we discovered a special gift - a ticket!  Turns out that parking spot was actually on a double-yellow line.  Oops!

Linking to:

All Seasons

Mosaic Monday

Nature Notes

Our World Tuesday
Our World Tuesday Graphic
Sharon's Photo Souvenirs
Skywatch Friday
Wednesday Around the World

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Great American Summer

What does summer in America evoke for you?  Perhaps family vacations.  Perhaps warm, lazy days with nothing better to do than dip your toes in the kiddie paddling pool.  Most certainly the Fourth of July and fireworks.

In Chapter Four of my ongoing summer series (see Chapter One, Two and Three), we celebrate several treasured American summer past-times.

ONE: Visiting a National Park.  On July 2, we cruised the iconic Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park with my in-laws.  As many of you know from previous posts, most of this road is closed over the winter due to deep snow.  This year, the road opened to vehicles on June 23.  So, in early July, snow is still abundant above 6,000 feet, and you brace yourself for the brisk temperatures.

Meadow at Logan Pass - glacier lilies emerging
The 'snow line' is very marked on the mountains in the distance;
cars snake along the Going to the Sun Road on the right slope
None of it was enough to discourage my 79-year-old father-in-law, engaged in the challenge of hiking 1.5 miles one-way to Hidden Lake Overlook, on a trail almost completely obscured by snow.  We made it, and then faced the test of the slight downhill slope on the return.  I wonder at the miracle that neither one of us ended up on our behinds!!!
You can spy a corner of unfrozen Hidden Lake in the middle left

Upper left: yep, prevailing wind comes from the west!
Upper right: 'ants' on the Hidden Lake Overlook trail
Lower left: on a clear day you can see forever
Lower right: sun desperately trying to break through
Note: if you read my Savoring September post, you know that we took our former neighbors on this same trail on September 28.   That post shows the first signs of snow and rime on the trail.  Just 10 days later, due to continued winter weather, the Park closed the Going to the Sun Road.  We have come full circle!

TWO: Going to a fireworks display.  The town of Whitefish launches its fireworks from a barge in the center of its eponymous lake.  Angling for the best view, boats of all shapes and sizes put-put carefully around each other before dropping anchor.  (My mother-in-law fretted over a mama duck and several ducklings, that paddled this way and that, seemingly confused by the traffic.  Ultimately, they disappeared in the direction of the lake's outlet into Whitefish River.)  Stand-up paddleboards inch into the open spaces.  Crowds build at the beach, blanketing every square inch as the sun sinks behind Lion Mountain.  You can feel the anticipation growing, until suddenly the first 'whoosh' is heard out on the water, and the crowd answers back ; "OOH, AAH."  It has begun.

THREE: Small-town glories.  I adore small towns.  They have character.  A slower pace.  A size you can wrap your arms around.  And often, in the summer, bountiful flowers.  Such is Bigfork, nestled in an elbow of the Swan River.
Upper left: Bee balm; Upper right: no idea, but I think it's cool

We sauntered along the Swan River nature trail, and noshed on picnic nibbles, before heading to Electric Avenue (yes, that's the name of its main street!) for a peek in the shops.
Man with Hat and his parents looking for Sasquatch … LOL!

In my case, my attention was drawn to the riot of color in the beds and baskets maintained by the retail establishments.  You can market yourself on the Web and social media, but sometimes your best 'advertising' is right outside your shop's doors - what attracts you to enter a store that is new to you?

Lupines pointing the way to Whitefish Lake seen in the distance
FOUR:  A family hike (with gondola).  With gondola, you ask?  Well, in the summer, Whitefish Mountain Resort operates Chair One with conventional chairs, small gondolas, and equipment especially designed to transport mountain bikes.  It benefits the hikers and bikers who prefer to traverse the mountain one-way (downhill!!!)  So, on a warm July day (only four days after our visit to Logan Pass!!), we introduced my in-laws to a gondola - chalk up another new life experience!!!  At the summit of Big Mountain (6,817 feet), you have a 360-degree view of alpine splendor: the Flathead Valley and long-distance views of Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies, not to mention the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, Scapegoat and Cabinet wilderness areas.  When you can finally drag yourself from the vista, the Danny On trail takes 3.8 miles to wind its way back to the ski village.

In early July, the mountain is awash with glacier lilies, lupines and other spring wildflowers.
Upper left: Parrot's Beak; Middle left: Glacier Lily; Lower left: Fairy Bells

The trail plays peek-a-boo with the views, as it passes among stands of old-growth forest, or dips into a chute between the hills.  For Spousal Unit and me, it was entertaining to see the mountain in this context, now that we have experienced a season of skiing/riding these slopes.  You can imagine that much of it looks different now that it has been freed from 33 feet worth of snowfall …

Penstemon (there are dozens of species and the blue/purple
penstemons are difficult to identify at the species level)
The Danny On Trail was dedicated as a memorial to Danny On, a Forest Service ecologist and renowned nature photographer, conservationist and avid skier on Big Mountain.  Danny generously gave his time to teach novices about nature, photography, skiing and forestry.  Danny died at the age of 55 in a skiing accident on Big Mountain.

Perhaps this is a reminder to each of us to make the most of every day, especially on the simplest of traditions.

Linking to:

All Seasons

I Like Thursday

Mosaic Monday

Nature Notes

Our World Tuesday
Our World Tuesday Graphic
Sharon's Photo Souvenirs

Skywatch Friday

Wednesday Around the World

Willy Nilly Friday

Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Hiking Journal: Entry 15

"Ten Lakes: lake-filled alpine scenery in one of the last roadless areas in the Whitefish Range."  
Hiking Montana, Bill Schneider and Russ Schneider

Could you resist that description?  No, neither could we. So, back on July 17, 2017, I joined Man with Hat for this 12-mile round trip hike, and I must say, it exceeded our expectations.

Ten Lakes Scenic Area encompasses 15,700 acres.  Located along the northeastern edge of the Kootenai Forest with the Canadian border as one of its boundaries, the Ten Lakes area is dominated by a high ridge of the Whitefish Mountains.  As we drove to the trailhead, my phone alternated between US and Canada cell phone service (until I lost service altogether).  Yep, that's when you know you're close to the border!

The trail climbed steeply at first.  At 2.5 miles, the trail flattened out past Wolverine Lakes Basin.  Near the two lakes, a cabin nestled near a stream.  A sign in the window informed us that the cabin is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Hmmm... good to know!

But if the cabin is occupied, you might have your choice of several serene camping sites with fire circles, cheek to jowl with the edge of Wolverine Lake.

Man with Hat quickly set about fishing, as four 10-inch cut-throat trout swam right up into the shallows - what a tease!  (He caught one, but I was not quick enough to get a shot.)

Past Wolverine Lakes, we picked up the Highline Trail on the ridge between the Ten Lakes basin on the north and the Wolverine Flats to the south.  The views are expansive in all directions, with glimpses of the ice-clad Bugaboos far into Canada.
Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, white bark pine

We followed the Highline across the slopes of Green Mountain into the Bluebird Lake Basin.  Alpine glaciers shaped much of the present rugged scenery.  As the glaciers grew they carved deep scallops, or cirques, and high, rim-rocked basins sheltering the many lakes of the area.  Other alpine lakes - such as Wolverine and Bluebird - are often bordered on one side by subalpine vegetation and on the other by a headwall or rook harboring old snowdrifts.  
Squirrel, gray jays, ruffed grouse were some of the animals along the trail; only
captured the squirrel in my photos

Six miles into our hike, at Bluebird Lake, we met a group of the Montana Conservation Corp.  These young people dug into their lunches with relish while taking a well-deserved break from repairing ditches and trimming bushes along the trail.  This lake also has camping sites with fire circles, all with front-row seats to the lake and its soaring cliffs.

Abundant glacier lilies, western pasqueflower, paintbrush, bead lily, foam flower, bear grass

From Bluebird, it's a steady descent back to the trailhead.  A lengthy section of the trail is overgrown with alder and other shoulder-high shrubbery, which is always concerning in bear country.  Could a black bear or a grizzly be lurking?  This day, we encountered no Ursus; maybe our constant shouting warned them off.  Between the near-bushwhacking and the anxiety about the bears, I must admit this was not a trail segment I would like to repeat.

Man with Hat inches across a downed tree

Soon enough, the torrents of Wolverine Creek reached our ears, signaling an end to our hike.  Except … no bridge over the creek!  But never fear, a little creativity and courage usually carries the day.

Linking to:

All Seasons

Our World Tuesday Graphic

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