Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mosaic Monday #148: Fickle September

Did we make the right decision?  Outside, it's 62 degrees and partly sunny.  A bit breezy, but in all other respects, a fine late summer day.  And yet, we cancelled our camping trip scheduled for the next two nights/three days.  Did we make the right decision?  I suppose I should tell you that the forecast calls for persistent rain on Sunday/Monday, with overnight lows in the mid 30s.  Heck, that rain might be snow at the elevation of our hike!  We were so conflicted about this choice, which meant giving up a hard-won reservation in Glacier National Park.  In the end, practicality won over the stubborn determination not to abandon a plan.  Do you suffer from these dilemmas?  Since we can't go camping, I decided to use this post to re-live a backcountry trip from September 2020, a vivid reminder of how changeable September can be in the mountains of Montana.  

Our journey began in the North Fork area, the first time we had driven past storied Polebridge - now that's north!  We departed the trailhead at 10 am, and reached Whale Lake a short three hours later.  Without much in the way of views, we made quick work of the gradual, shaded trail.  This was my first hike with new boots, and the initial sensation of stiffness quickly eased.  Given the date of September 3, it was not surprising to observe blooming aster and goldenrod, as well as plants at the berry stage.

* Left: Baneberry (unusual to see white berries - they are normally red); Upper right: Thimbleberry; Lower right: Arnica

*Upper left top: Grass of Parnassus; Upper left middle: Red Paintbrush; Right: Arnica; Bottom: Black Currant

** Comparing the two Arnicas, I know they are not the same, but it is devilishly difficult to figure out which variety they ARE!  Open to anyone who might be able to distinguish them!

At the lake, we found a pretty campsite with ready-made stools and tables.  The most difficult part of setting up camp was slinging the rope over a tree to hang our bags (one of the advantages of Glacier National Park is that all the campsites have pre-made bear hangs).  Man with Hat caught plenty of fish, which made up for the fact that they were all 10 inches or less.


I collected wood, and then found a comfy spot next to the water to read.  I didn't get far since a multitude of birds caught my eye - flycatchers, a Gray Jay and a hawk.  Fish were swimming right in front of me - I tried to capture them with my camera, but the "eye" of the phone camera is not as clever as the human eye to be able to discern the shapes in the water.


We had the place entirely to ourselves as we prepared our gourmet meal.  A fire pushed back the edge of chill that began to creep ever closer with the falling of the sun.  (This is another factor we took into consideration in cancelling our current reservation - neither campground allowed fires due to scarcity of wood in those locales.  If we were wet and cold, we wouldn't even have the promise of a fire to help us out!)  In keeping with our camping tradition, we played a few hands of gin - Man with Hat walloped me 5 to 1.

The next morning, we sipped our morning joe while watching the sun poke through the pines.  A languid grasshopper had to be coaxed off the tent as we broke camp.  


On the trail by 9.45, we climbed a steep half mile to the intersection with the Pacific Northwest Trail (also known as Whitefish Divide Trail No. 26).  (Don't I look happy to have that behind me?) 




From that point, the trail meanders for a mile along the crest with expansive views toward Glacier National Park to the east.  The trail begins to descend through 2 pleasant miles of switchbacks, meadows and forest, leading to the fork with the Huntsberger Trail.  What goes down must go up (I know, gravity would say otherwise, but this is HIKING), and we had a moderate climb to another crest, rewarded by an arresting vista of Huntsberger Mountain.

Then it was all downhill to a spur that led to the lake, eponymous with the mountain.  A small meadow, dotted with campsites, perched at one end of the lake, and the mountain towered over the water on the far shore.  Rocks scattered along the edge offered perfect platforms for sunbathing while Man with Hat plied his fly fishing apparatus once more.  
 


He caught plenty of small fish, and it was warm enough when he returned that he went swimming.  I was captivated by the wispy clouds, dancing across the blue sky in a seemingly choreographed waltz.



Once again, no-one else arrived to camp for the night.  Our "Chicken with Risotto" dinner was more akin to soup, but quite tasty.  The sun moved across the mountain as we hung the food and other "smellies" in Spousal Unit's pack for the night.  The only available branch did not appear strong enough to hold two bags, so we opted for the "fishy" bag in the tree, and my pack wrapped in a plastic bag by the firepit.  Either we got lucky or it was a good plan; no bears interrupted our sleep that night!  (And Spousal Unit continued his gin winning streak.)

The next morning, we emerged from the tent at 7 am.  Cupping our hands around the coffee cups and looking east for the sun, it became clear it would take some time for it to clear the mountain.  What does that mean?  More time for fishing!  It didn't last long -- the wind rose quickly and strongly.


We left the lake at 10.45; we encountered some grouse and interesting plants along the way, but not many spectacular views (perhaps we are spoiled?)  I studied my "Plants of the Rocky Mountains" book, but could not identify the shrub below with the cherry-looking fruit.  Anyone know what it is?  It is unusual to see Yellow Paintbrush - I was delighted to observe this specimen.  I have always thought of Harebell as a spring flower, but my book says it will bloom through September!


At the bridge crossing for Whale Creek, we took a short break.



It's only 45 minutes from the creek to the parking area, and in that space we encountered the first other people we had seen in two-and-a-half days.  And would you be surprised to learn I knew one of them?!?  It's a small valley!

We met #1 Son at the Gunsight Saloon for a post-hike meal - always anticipated and greatly savored.  Now that we have cancelled our last camping trip of the season, this will be a tradition that will have to wait until early summer 2022!!!



Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
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.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


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Click here to enter

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mosaic Monday #147: On the road again

In early August, #1 Son received the long-awaited news: he landed a job, a nuclear engineering position within the Idaho National Laboratory.  I jumped up and down for joy; he has been in job search mode since May 2020, and all of us were thrilled for him that his patience and perseverance paid off!

As I write this, we are in Idaho Falls, the largest town closest to the Lab.  (As you can see in the photo above, the facility is in the middle of "nowhere", by design!  Part of the company benefit package is a tour bus that transports employees to and from the site each day.)  #1 Son is required to obtain a security clearance, a process that could take until January.  Nevertheless, given the scarcity of housing in the West, we deemed it wise to take a road trip to look at apartments and put his name on the waiting list.

Never ones to miss out on an opportunity to explore, we turned the trip into a mini-vacation.  An art museum, a walk along the Snake River, the Aquarium, the Zoo, the Craters of the Moon National Monument, and a visit to a nearby city, Twin Falls.  We also took advantage of the plethora of unique restaurants here - many more than we have back at home!






So, this will be a short post - just having too much fun to write anything longer!


And if any of this sounds familiar, it is because we visited Idaho Falls and Craters of the Moon last fall (see Road Trippin' and Going to the Moon).  Little did we know then that #1 Son would be living here!!!!

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
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.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Mosaic Monday #146: Hope

Everywhere I turn, I see signs of despair.  Perhaps despair is too strong a word - maybe it's sadness.  A quiet resignation that things are not going well, with the accompanying sense that it is beyond our control.  A deep concern about events across the globe.  And your political party or country doesn't seem to matter - everyone seems to think the world is in trouble!  So, I decided to write a post about hope.  Actually, I am highlighting quotes from other people, people much smarter than me.  I "hope" that this shines a little light into your day!

 



"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:31

 "All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."  Winston Churchill

 

"You can't go back and change the beginning but you can start from where you are and change the ending."  C.S. Lewis

 

"Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage.  Anger at the way things are and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are."  Saint Augustine

 

*In Montana, open range is the default position.  So, if you don't want cattle grazing your property, you have to fence them out.  Imagine my dismay to see this cow (and several others) show up on my trail cam.  This meant they had gotten through some fencing!  No damage was done, and my husband and a neighbor repaired the fence that we think was the entry point.

"Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence."  Lin Yutang

 

"Hope is the ocean for the river, the sun for the trees and the sky for us."  Maxime Lagace

 

"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."  Michelle Obama

 

"Sometimes your only available form of transportation is a leap of faith."  Margaret Shepard

 

*Quilts at the Northwest Montana Fair


"Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."  Gloria Steinem

 







 






 




 

 

"If we are to have any hope for the future, those who have lanterns must pass them on to others."  Plato

 


"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."  Martin Luther King, Jr.

 



"Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it."  Barack Obama

 



"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."  Maya Angelou

 

 


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
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.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


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Click here to enter

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Mosaic Monday #145: July Jumble

I am so blessed with adventures in our beloved Montana that I doubt I will ever lack for blog content!  I have already penned 5 posts about our July activities, and yet I have more to share from last month.  It's a bit of a potpourri, a hodgepodge, a mish-mash.  Welcome to the July jumble!

My nephew took the picture at left - isn't he a terrific photographer?  He was so kind during his visit - always asking if we would like a photo!  And sometimes, he snapped one from behind us.  Awww ....

Kootenai Falls and Ross Creek Cedars are go-to sights when we have visitors.  On the day we explored the area, it was red hot, and ideal for dipping toes (or more) into the glacial waters of the Kootenai River.

Montana hosts are required to ensure tourists enjoy their share of huckleberry products while in the state.  Head Chef made his special huckleberry cheesecake, and we also took my nephew to the Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse, famous for its huck pie and huck ice cream - double the fun!


Before we began our back-country camping trip with my nephew (see previous posts here, here and here), we navigated the white-knuckle twists of the mountainous Going to the Sun Road.  I have lost count of the number of times we have gazed upon the majesty of Glacier National Park from this road, but I can assure you I never tire of it.



The summit of the Road is Logan Pass, equally renowned for access to the Highline Trail and the Hidden Lake Trail, AND the difficulty of obtaining a spot in the parking lot!  I won't bore you with the details of finding not just one but TWO spots; let's focus on the photos and videos of the 3 mile round trip "hike" to the Hidden Lake Overlook.


You might (reasonably) surmise from the photo above that no-one else was around; in reality, this is one of the most popular hikes in the park since the views are expansive, the distance to the Overlook is relatively short and the trail is (mostly) flat.  So, it takes some ingenuity and patience to obtain shots without any people!



In the summer, it is quite common to see mountain goats along this trail, and this day did not disappoint; we must have seen at least a dozen goats, including kids born in the spring.  Sometimes it even seems that they are posing for you! 

Check out the videos!




At the Overlook, a circular boardwalk provides plenty of space for hikers to linger for a snack with a view.


On the way back, I snapped this picture of a meadow strewn with glacier lilies.  As one of the first flowers to emerge in the spring, this is evidence that it wasn't too long ago that snow still covered this area.  (And this picture was taken on July 8!)


We headed down from the summit of Logan Pass, toward St. Mary's.  Along the way, we stopped for a short stroll to Sun Point.  I am eternally grateful to my nephew for suggesting a photo op featuring a hug, and then taking this picture (the background really makes the shot, don't you think?)  We might be getting this one framed!


Our next milestone was Many Glacier, to drop off my vehicle at the end of the trail (where we would emerge 4 days later).  In the past, we have been fortunate to see bears along the road, but at a safe distance.  Once again, we were not disappointed; a mama black bear and her baby were grazing in the meadow.  They are hard to see in the video below, but be patient and they will appear!



On July 31, Spousal Unit and I went out for dinner to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (it actually falls on August 3, but he would be headed to Alaska that day for salmon fishing).  A fitting end to the month, and hopefully the beginning of another adventurous 30 years!


   

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
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.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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