"I'm twitching," Bob said. On a recent Saturday, a group of Ambassadors gathered for lunch break, sitting at socially-distanced intervals around the table. Somehow, the talk had migrated to fishing. "In July, my feet twitch for ski season. Right now, my arms are twitching for fly fishing." All of us nodded in understanding, and the room grew quiet, each person lost in thoughts of spring and summer. Images of flowers and long summer days blossomed in my mind's eye. It inspired me to take a break from winter and highlight a hike. I could have chosen any one of 50 hikes, but I certainly needed one with more than a monochromatic palette. So, here we go: this is Entry 35 in my Hiking Journal - May 21, 2018 - the Boundary Trail from West Glacier Old Bridge to Lincoln Creek, 10 miles round trip. Enjoy!
We immediately learned that the "Old Bridge" is called the Belton Bridge. Built in 1920 to replace an unsafe wooden truss bridge, the Belton Bridge served as the primary entrance into Glacier National Park for nearly two decades. You can click on the photo below to read more details.
Spring flowers abounded along the trail: Wild Strawberry, Biscuitroot, Serviceberry, Trillium, Blue Violet, Fairybells, Blue-eyed Mary, False Solomon Seal, to name a few. I was delighted to find a number of my favorite orchids, the Fairy Slipper (also known as Calypso Orchid) (see picture at left). In 2018, I still had a lot to learn about the flora of Northwest Montana. In my journal, I note one plant as "unidentified". Now I can tell you that it was Wild Sarsaparilla. The roots were used by Native Americans and pioneers as a beverage flavoring. Native Americans also used a poultice of wild sarsaparilla to treat fevers, stomachaches, coughs and skin ulcers. (Sarsaparilla is also the common name of a soft drink that was trendy in the 1800s. Contrary to popular belief, the drink was made from another plant called sassafras.) I had seen plenty of sarsaparilla on our hikes, but it wasn't until I spotted the flowers underneath that I was able to make the identification.
The trail began to climb more steeply, leading us up and away from the river. As the terrain changed, so did the flowers.
On the return, we saw a train snaking its way along the tracks on the other side of the river. Burlington Northern Santa Fe has a good safety record; anyone who loves Glacier National Park would abhor an accident that would spill oil or other harmful products into the river.
Sometimes, on the return journey, you see views you did not catch the first time. Isn't this a beauty?
Yep, I am twitching. But this post will have to scratch that itch for now - mid-May and hiking the trails is a long way off!