Sunday, February 9, 2020

Mosaic Monday #66: Spring Fever

Easter wreath for our church
It may be only February 9, but recent events have conspired to push my mind (and heart) forward to Spring.  Reading your blog posts, sprinkled with pictures of crocus emerging from the earth.  Meeting with the church Flower Committee to plan for Lent, especially the pretty pastel colors that signify Easter morning.  Discussing summer camping plans with Spousal Unit, since the application deadline for Glacier National Park is March 15. 

I reached for my hiking journal, and promptly got lost among the wildflowers and lakes.  Who knows how much time passed before I re-focused and decided to share two excursions from Spring 2019?  (My structured self pushed to write about a hike on September 6, 2017 - in chronological order, it's the next one for a post, but you whimsical, will-o-the-wisp types will be happy to know that heart ruled over mind this time.  After all, these Spring hikes fit the theme and my mood.)  Enough of the preamble, let's hike!

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - Apgar Lookout - 9 miles out and back (Entry 45 in the journal)

Our first hike of 2019 was designed to initiate our training with our new backcountry camping gear, so we didn't mind repeating a hike we had previously completed with our son in May 2017.  I carried 15 pounds and Spousal Unit hoisted 25, and we were both comfortable, even when we encountered snow from the last switchback to the summit.  At points, we could walk on the edges of the trail, but at the higher elevations, the snow was easily 5 feet deep.
Near the summit
And how do I know the depth?  At the summit, I went to use the pit toilet.  No luck.  I couldn't get the door open, but I could have walked directly onto the roof from the snow pile!  I wish now that I had taken a picture of it!
View of Lake McDonald from the summit
Given this hike was nearly a month earlier than the previous time we came this way, flowers, plants and animals were not as abundant.  Some buds were just beginning to pop.
Traction is often more critical going downhill, since gravity is "helping" you, so we strapped on our Traxx and reversed course.  In no time we crossed the bridge and skirted the paddock for the trail ride horses (summer only).  At this elevation,  life was a little more evident - deer, Columbian ground squirrels and a mountain bluebird shared the quiet meadow.  I couldn't help but imagine that they were enjoying the peace which exists before the tourists/horses arrive. 

On our way home, we stopped at Glacier Distilling.  Although we have passed it often, this was our first visit.  A craft distillery and tasting room nestled in the foothills of Glacier National Park, it specializes in small-batch whiskeys that "reflect the rugged beauty of our surroundings".  So good!
Bottom right: "Fireside Chat" cocktail - Fireweed Cherry Bourbon,
blood orange, charred rosemary shrub, sparkling soda
We went home with a botte of the Fireweed Cherry Bourbon!
Thursday, May 23, 2019 - Finger Lake Trailhead - 7 miles total (Entry 46 in the journal)

Our training regimen continued with this hike, featuring a shorter distance and less elevation but with more weight in our packs (18 for me and 30 for Spousal Unit).  I was thrilled that we quickly came across a huddle of several Calypso Orchids. (See 3/9/18, 10/1/17 and 7/1/17 for more pictures of my favorite Montana flower.)  Our strategy to choose a hike at a lower altitude in order to avoid snow and see more wildlife was already paying dividends!  This hike also boasts three lakes within a short distance, which can be beneficial when hosting guests with a moderate level of fitness.  So, this trip served as reconnaissance for the future. Win, win, win!!!

We originally planned to go to Finger Lake first, but the signpost we expected was missing, so going straight led us to Lagonis Lake. 
Flowers were abundant, drawing critters such as this caterpillar.
Middle: Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal    Right: Common Paintbrush
Upper left: Blue Violet    Upper right: Silverberry
Bottom: Common Paintbrush
At this low elevation, we were surprised to see beargrass.  And it had already formed heads for blooming.

We re-traced our steps, locating the turn we missed.  On the way to Finger Lake, you pass through a meadow teeming with desert parsley, shooting stars and blue-eyed mary.
Middle: Shooting Stars     Right: Hearleaf Arnica turns its face to the sun
Finger Lake features a dramatic flat rock outcropping, an ideal spot for snacking while overlooking the lake.  Serviceberry bloomed profusely, framing the lake with frothy white.
Casting a final glance back at the idyllic scene above, we sauntered along the trail to the final lake in this triple crown of jewels - Hole in the Wall Lake.  The trail traverses a marshy area, and thankfully a log boardwalk was built in 2015 to get over it with dry feet.  As you approach, you catch a whiff of the pungent aroma emanating from the prolific skunk cabbage in the marsh. 
Middle: Skunk Cabbage   Left and Right: Unidentified plant that was also numerous in the marsh
The trail climbed steeply from the marsh, but only briefly before flattening and leading to the lake nestled against a stunning backdrop of sheer cliffs with red striations on the opposite shore.  

Spousal Unit tried his hand at fly-fishing, but it was difficult with the tree-crowded shoreline.  We employed our water filter for the first time to prepare our lunch and refill our water bottles.  The Mesquite BBQ Seasoned Chicken with Beans and Rice was terrible - too much tomato and powdery tasting.  This certainly would not be one of the meals we would take into the backcountry!
We arrived back at the trailhead by 3pm, which allowed plenty of time for a stop at the Stillwater Bar.  Cheek to jowl with the Stillwater River, it's a terrific setting to sip an adult beverage and re-cap the day's adventures.  And to dream about the hiking adventures to come!

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
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Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
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Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.

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  1. I did so enjoy your post! It's been 4 years since we've been to Glacier National Park but we were there in the Fall. Your flower photos are just beautiful! And your adventure in the snow was captivating! Thank you! Have a wonderful week!

  2. Your pictures always do our state so proud! Just lovely. We have new snow after the last two days but it is fairly warm down here. I am still enjoying my winter and haven't even thought about Have a great week! Kit

  3. Beautiful hikes ... I love the wonderful wildflowers and admire the way you take full advantage of the season you’re in while looking forward to the next. Best of luck gettibg the wilderness permits that you hope for..., I’ve got crocuses for you this week, but not in my mosaics (and I stole them from our daughter, they aren’t even mine). My lack of Spring flowers is for a wholly different reason from yours! ......

  4. ...a beautiful neck of the woods!I'd time my visit to after the white stuff is gone.

  5. You really did have some mighty interesting journeys. We're most ready for Spring too!!!

  6. Hi Angie. I’m out of town but will visit everyone when I get back. Thanks for another great week.
    Dawn aka spatulas On Parade

  7. Those calypso orchids are really gorgeous. How sweet to come upon them. I'm always impressed with your ability to go on these great hikes that afford so much beauty. Thanks for sharing your journey. Gives me Spring fever.

  8. What a wonderful hike! I always look with anticipation our first spring hikes where we see the first wildflowers blooming. Here it is usually the star lily. I've only seen a calypso orchid in the wild once--they are magical!

  9. Fantastic nature views of nature, both of winter & spring. The small lila orchids are so beautiful <3 Wishing a pleasant week.

  10. Good Morning,dear Angie... during stormy weather, I try to concentrate me on other things.
    For example reading your lovely Post, enjoyed the captures of nature and would like to have the taste of Whiskey on my tongue.

    Thank you for sharing 🥰
    Happy MosaicMonday

  11. Hello, Angie
    What a beautiful hike, the views of the lake are lovely. The wildflowers are beautiful. I would love to see the Calypso orchid, it is gorgeous. We do not have any spring blooms yet, I am looking forward to many spring hikes. I enjoyed this post, I love Glacier Nat'l park. Thanks for hosting. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great new week!

  12. I love seeing your photos of that area! It's been SO long since we hiked in CO and NM! But I always loved it. And it's fun to look back and then plan for hikes coming up. It's hiking weather HERE now so we are getting out as often as we can. Happy MM!

  13. Oh....and I"ve never hiked in Montana! heehee! What an adventure it would be!

  14. You are much more daring than I am! I did enjoy all the photos of the mountains and flowers.

  15. I love having a reward after golfing or hiking...whatever. Like whiskey! We always stop at distilleries on our travels.

  16. What an amazing adventure! The colours, and the flowers remind us that spring is coming.

  17. I enjoy coming along on your hikes, armchair hiker that I am!! So many beautiful and different plants and flowers. I can not imagine so much snow as you had on your first hike.

  18. I wish we had been able to keep up with the cross country hiking when we were younger, but life always seemed to have other plans. Gorgeous wildflowers along your trails. My favourite time for bushwalking is in spring when the wildflowers are blooming. Happy travels and have a great week.

  19. I am impressed that you can go hiking in the snow.

  20. I love reading about your hiking and backpacking adventures, Montana Angie. I can just imagine the cool crisp air, the heft of my backpack, and the satisfaction of getting up another rugged incline. March 15 huh? I better check if that's the same deadline for the Oregon national parks. It's possible we may go camping with friends this year. We shall see.

  21. i have spring fever too...i think we all do!! it is fun to read about your hiking adventures, and seeing you in action!! the lakes and flowers are just gorgeous!!!

  22. Fabulous scenery and lovely flowers (already!)

  23. Hi Angie. Being able to identify and to name all the plants you see adds a whole new dimension to your trail walks. It's a little like birding, knowing every call, every song and being able to identify them by actions or silhouettes against the sun. I find it strange that people just walk and walk with seemingly no enquiry into their surroundings.

    Or is it just me?

  24. Brilliant things of nature, lovely walking as well Angie.

  25. Gorgeous floral and nature photography

    Happy Moments to You,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  26. There is a wonderful range of nature to explore where you live, Angie, and it is so good to see you out there enjoying it, in all its seasons. I only hope that it can remain pristine and unsullied for future generations to enjoy.

  27. The names of these lakes are wonderfully creative and telling of shapes and environment. Haha … and I must say that the name Hole in the Wall Lake sounds better than what it could have been with the pungent aromas in the air. Although Skunk or Cabbage Lake have a certain flair.

  28. Looks like a great time to shake off your spring fever :)

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

  29. I love reading about your hikes. I am not near the hiker you are but you can always tell a real hiker/trailrunner from a poser when you say that sometimes going downhill is harder than going uphill when the footing is uncertain or slippery. Give me uphill any time in such conditions.

  30. I always enjoy my visits to your blog, and it's always so interesting to see the photographs you share and the hikes you do … fabulous photographs of the mountains and flowers here.

    Hope your week has been good, enjoy the weekend.

    All the best Jan

  31. The landscapes are beautiful, and so are those detail shots.


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