Sunday, January 31, 2021

Mosaic Monday #116: Twitching

"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.

We crossed the bridge and headed east.  Much of the Boundary Trail meanders along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, offering mesmerizing views.  In May, the river is high with snow melt, and brown with silt.  Later in the summer, it is clear or even blue from glacial flour and the rocks on the river bed.  (June of 1964 saw the worst flooding in Montana in recorded history.  Bridges, dams, towns and railroads were all dramatically effected.  The west side of Glacier was cut off and isolated.  If not for the concrete arch of the old Belton Bridge, it might have been months or years before access could be restored.  Heroic efforts after the flood quickly constructed a new bridge on the existing concrete arch and the west side of the Park was re-opened in only 3 weeks.  Meanwhile, it took two years to re-build the bridge at West Glacier and restore that entrance to the Park.)

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.

Occasionally, I come across an uncommon plant, and that is a cause for celebration.  On this day, I was over the moon to meet the Striped Coralroot, a member of the Orchid Family.  This plant was the only one we saw on the entire trail (5 miles one way), and I have rarely seen it since.  It is a parasite that gets its nutrients from soil fungi and dies when removed from this association.  Therefore, they are rarely cultivated or transplanted successfully.

The Striped Coralroot prefers a moist soil, so it is not surprising that a stream with a waterfall was nearby.  

The trail began to climb more steeply, leading us up and away from the river.  As the terrain changed, so did the flowers.

We reached a plateau, and we were fascinated by this stand of lodgepole pine, reaching to the heavens.  Lodgepole typically grow up in thick stands, whereas this area appeared to have been thinned in a systematic manner.  Thinning is not a normal practice by the National Park Service, so we wondered how this happened.  It is still a mystery to us!

Shortly after this point, we arrived at Lincoln Creek and its swing bridge.  A sign warned that only one hiker should cross at a time.  We followed that advice!

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!

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  1. ...wildflowers will be a welcomed sight once spring arrives. Thanks Angie for hosting.

  2. Wild flowers are very beautiful, especially in spring.

  3. The description of the path you walk, belong to the nature around sounds like poetry, dear Angie. And yes, I agree... this is beautiful.

    By the way I always surprised about your very good knowledge reading my Post and comment. I must look for, to translate several sentences.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  4. Oh gosh Angie, you have me twitching too. I admit I NEVER twitch for winter lol! Well, I get a little nostalgic for snow around Christmas time but that soon evaporates! The lodgepole pine forest, wow...that brings back memories of living on Prince Edward Island and hiking in a lodgepole pine forest, that is such a wonderful forest to hike's peaceful. I LOVED hearing the river and stream...and the train! It's so rare to see trains where I live! :) Beautiful hike! :)

  5. I'm twitching as well!! There are so many parks and living on such a large river we have tons of places to walk/hike and explore, but alas, it is far toooo cold right now. We have ventured out a bit but not for long. Thank you for sharing your hiking journals with us!
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

  6. that is a great and inspiring hike. "swing bridge" a suitable name for it. In Sweden we call them "Hang bridge"! I think it was good to be only one passing on the bridge. I don´t like walking on this kind of bridges when I have people behind me as the bridge starts swaying. Love the rivers and waterfalls.
    Take care!

  7. Such an interesting post and you sure do live in an amazing area, it's sure beautiful there.

  8. What a wonderful hike, Angie! I think we are all twitching to travel right now. I loved seeing your videos and and learning about the rare coralroot plant. When we visited Glacier National Park we stayed in the Belton Inn--right across from the train. It was a wonderful location.

  9. A delightful post, Angie. I particularly enjoyed the macro shots of the flora.

  10. It's fun to look back at hikes and what you see along the way. We are in hiking season here in Florida so we're taking advantage of the nice weather to get out as often as we can. It was 75 yesterday when we hiked and we saw wildflowers on the roadways already. What a wonderful hike you shared. It's fun to have a journal to write down sightings and all! Happy Monday!

  11. Thank you, Angie.
    I enjoyed the hike. I especially love the wildflowers.
    And the videos are great. While watching, I found myself
    taking deep breaths of the spring air. :^)

  12. Beautiful photos! I know how you feel, Angie. This virus and winter weather has had us penned up for too long. Can't wait to take a road trip and get some new photos!

  13. Your wildflowers are lovely. Happy Monday

    Much love...

  14. I live vicariously through the experiences you adventurous people enjoy. Before you know it it will be time for hiking with lovely color to enjoy. I have a question, Do you experience a lot of bugs/mosquitoes on your hiking adventures in Montana? Lovely photos and scary bridge. :) Happy February to you!

  15. I love the photo of the tall stand of trees. Twiching is the new normal I think. Very funny!

  16. I want to walk that trail, Angie. Stand among that stand of lodgepoles and gaze up. Marvel at all the orchids in person. Freeze on that bridge and finally inch my way across. Breathe in all that clean air. Lovely. Thanks for taking me there in my imagination. :-)
    P.S. This morning I was looking for a flathead screwdriver and wondered if it was named after the Flathead River.

  17. Twitching, indeed! I twitch at the end of each season, I love the changes! You've a lovely garden!

  18. Very interesting post. Parasitic plants are fascinating are rare.

  19. looking forward to cooler weather when we can go for longer walks. Right now it is too hot, so early morning or early evening is the best time for a short walk. Stay safe and enjoy your week.

  20. Happy Monday.
    Happy February.
    Happy Week.

    Nice post and a big WOW for that last photograph :)

    All the best Jan

  21. Your hiking journal provides lots of interesting material. The Coral striped orchid is beautiful, and how lucky you were to see it. We are lucky to be able to hike at any time of year (if we stay close to the water). I am longing for warmer, sunnier days, though.

  22. What some scenery you have shots, they are beautiful Angie.

  23. Such beautiful country, especially the mountain wild flowers.

  24. For just a moment there Angie I thought you had dedicated a post to bird watchers who go chasing rare birds – twitchers. Should have known you are far too sensible to become embroiled in such depravity.

    It's many years since I imbibed a glass of sarsparilla. I moved on to wine and ouzo!

  25. Wonderful post Angie, I am always interested to read about the plants, flowers and creatures you see when hiking. The scenery is breath taking.

  26. Hello Angie. In my part of the world, with the coronavirus variant and seasonal hay fever caused by cedar pollen, some people started wearing two masks, unwoven cloth mask on cloth one, to stop sneezing splash more effectively. Your hike made me feel refreshed with good sweats. walking in the fragrant May, along the singing stream, into the woods of lodgepole pines soaring into the sky - so wonderful. Thank you for your comment on my old post. Take care.


  27. I think all the stay home and distanced recommendations have many of us twitching. Fortunately we can safely get outdoors in nature in unpopulated areas. - Margy

  28. I thought I was safe from twitching until I clicked on your stream videos. There is nothing like a mountain stream!! I swore I could smell that wet fungusy smell that you get in the mountains near water. I am not twitching to go fishing, I am twitching for a hike in the mountains.

  29. Nice post! The wildflowers are beautiful to see.
    Have a great weekend, Angie.

  30. I hope you got some of this lovely snow! If I need to stay home I prefer to watch it snow and sip coffee. Take care. My hubby got his first shot! Kit

  31. such a fun post, i really enjoyed both videos!! trains of any kind are a real favorite!! how nice for me to see pretty spring flowers!!

    and a lunch break and no pictures of the food?!?!


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