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


  1. Don't ya just love Bigfork? We love the drive up from Missoula along the East shore of Flathead Lake. When we lived in Kalispell we always went to Whitefish Lakes fireworks. Amazing! :) Kit

  2. You have such beautiful places to visit around you, the mountain views are spectacular. That unknown seed/flower head reminds me of the native clematis we have grwoing here. Your photo of the lake waiting for the fireworks is beautiful too. Wonderful your in laws can have these experiences with you.

  3. Your photo tours for us are so amazing, we feel like we were right there with you!

  4. That photo of the lupines is gorgeous! Hiking and visiting small towns is definitely two of my favorite things to do.

  5. Nice tours! I'm so glad summer is over and the tourists are gone!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  6. mountains, valley, lakes and colorful flowers are integrated and amazing.

    Have a great weekend.

  7. Hi Angie, visiting from Mosaic Monday. Thank you for saying you would take over Mosaic Monday if ... etc. Very much appreciate you saying that.

  8. I love your photo of the lake and your description of anticipation and awe of the fireworks. Poetry. You have me homesick for the mountains, Angie.

  9. I hiked the Hidden Lake train in Glacier NP on our visit in August a few years ago--at that time the boardwalk trail at the beginning was surrounded by beautiful wildflowers! So different from your snowy views in this post. I'm sure your inlaws loved their visit to the park!

    We had snow on the front range of Colorado today--about 4 inches in our area. It will be very cold tonight but will warm back up to the 50's by thursday.

    I saw you wish to host Mosaic Monday--hope that will come true for you!

  10. Spring has been slow in coming, but I think summer is going to be long and hot from what I hear. Amazing you can go to the snow in summer! Happy travels!

  11. Another fabulous chapter of your summer story, how amazing the scenery is and the towns sounds so interesting and characterful. To have experienced your new home state in both winter and summer hardly seems possible as I can remember reading, not very long ago, your stories of how you built your beautiful log home.
    Thank you for offering to take up the MM baton, I am thrilled! I'll be in touch very soon.
    Happy Mosaic Monday!

  12. So much to see. Flora, fauna and fantastic vistas!

  13. Hi Angie, You are busy in the summer! Every place you show us is gorgeous. Lucky you!

  14. Magnificent series of photos ~ beautiful area where you are ~ not fond of snow anymore ~ used to love to ski it ~ thanks for your wonderful post and photos!

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  15. You covered all the bases for a perfect summer -- in glorious locations. Thanks for sharing. (Your in laws are our age ... I'm in awe of his hiking ability. I'm OK on flat ground ....)

  16. Beautiful images Angie, I love the mountain, superb.

  17. Each photo is better than the first - beautiful tour.

  18. Beautiful colours captured in your images. Number 1 would be my kind of summer vacation. I admire your father-in-law, hope I can continue to hike at that age. We got crampons for our shoes, they are so wonderful.


  19. A lovely post Angie. I can imagine how wonderful those mountains are when they awake from their winter sleep. The Alpine scenery, sounds and smells must be amazing.

    There's heart-searching, debate and complaints over here about how the Internet is killing off towns and small shops. I think you found the answer to some of their problems there. Make their places more welcoming, interesting and even beautiful, rather than simply “we are here to take your money”.

  20. Lovely photos, particularly the mountains in Glacier National Park, what a beautiful place

  21. The scenery is gorgeous. I love the photos of the mountains, they are absolutely beautiful. Such wonderful hikes, memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful day.

  22. Beautiful record of your Great American Summer, Angie! How special to enjoy some time with your in-laws and what a blessing that they are physically able to saunter with you and enjoy the sights. Love the photo of man with hat and his hand on his mom's shoulder. Precious. Small towns are so much fun to explore. Soon we'll be in exploring mode instead of settling in mode. Happy middle of October to you!

  23. This is a much better way to spend the summer...I watered the new garden beds and enjoyed the wildlife in the garden and then into the AC again...Michelle

  24. a great post. Ypu seem to find all the gorgious places for hiking. Makes me wish I was a bit younger then I am. :)

  25. Love your post and fabulous images!

  26. OMG they are so beautiful and enticing. One disappointment that i was not able to visit America is the lots of awesome landscapes i was not able to see in person. I always see them only in photos and that aggravates my frustration. If only i am there travelling, hiking, photography will be my daily occupation. Oh maybe in the next lifetime, hahaha! At least i've already seen Hawaii.

  27. Summer: Definitely fireworks, flowers and getting outdoors. Looks like you had a good one!

  28. So much snow in the summer ! A beautiful landscape ! You made some nice travels !

  29. Lovely! Reminds me of home-Alaska! Have a great weekend!

  30. Great evocations of an American summer. I love all the seasons - I try to get in some hiking in summer.

  31. Dear Angie - I’ve never been to America but Hawaii. My overall impression of America is so spacious and dynamic but when seeing details there are so much beauties and loveliness as is shown in your photos. I like the lake photo. The sky right after the sun-set looks full of flying ethereal white birds. I’m also attracted to the small town glories. Thanks for sharing.


  32. summer is flowers, and visits to small towns, walks and stopping to chat to people, fireworks! Lovely photos!

  33. Summer here is a time to put one foot in front of another and wait out the heat until fall arrives. In my dreams, I imagine living someplace that is enjoyable to be outside during summer and hopefully, I'll live to see hubby retire so we can do that. Until then, I'll enjoy summer through your pictures and adventures.

  34., it takes until June for a road to open, amazing. With a sky like that, who needs fireworks. Now that's color on over load. Thanks Angie for stopping by, enjoy your week.

  35. Wonderful post! It would be a lot of fun to take a chair lift up the mountain and hike back down. That's a beautiful capture of the Whitefish sunset!

  36. What a glorious summer! I loved every minute!

  37. Looks like you had a wonderful summer. Loved all the pretty flowers.


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