On our third day in the Belly River area, we saw a slice of paradise, and it is called Helen Lake. (See previous post for the first two days of the camping trip.)
The day began indulgently. With no need to break camp, we could sleep in a bit. Our nephew took advantage of this, while we grabbed some coffee and headed down to Elizabeth Lake. A fellow camper told us he had just seen a moose, but there was no sign of it by the time we arrived at the beach.
Spousal Unit relished his fishing, while I enjoyed observing a plover working the shore edges. Ducks dove under the water repeatedly - could they have been fishing as well? Eventually we made our way back to camp for breakfast, and joined in a lively conversation with the three campers that had arrived late the night before. One of them was the person who had seen the moose, and I eagerly looked at the photos on his camera. They reported seeing a bear on the way in, and the lady camper showed us a brief video. We learned they live in Pittsburgh, but we still liked them after we ascertained they are not Steelers fans!
We set off for Helen Lake, sparingly loaded for the 2.6 mile trek. Once again, stunning vistas enthralled us. Abundant waterfalls threaded through avalanche chutes on their way to the valley floor. Above them, two glaciers shone down with their unique blue-white color.
On the final approach to the lake, a waterfall with a "single-lane" log bridge greeted us. It's hard to imagine something more picturesque.
Here is a video of the falls.
The turquoise water sparkled and shimmered in the afternoon sunlight as the men took a dip in the crystalline lake.
This panorama shot by my nephew captures the spirit of Helen Lake, which we decided was the best part of our trip thus far.
I wandered the shoreline, taking in the pristine meadows. When I returned to the men, they suggested I point my binoculars to the distant hillside. A moose! We took turns observing it until the large mammal disappeared into a copse of trees. We lingered, and watched clouds start to scud across the mountain tops. Then, the young ranger we had met the day before appeared, and when we asked her about the weather, she noted that some lightning was in the forecast.
We headed back to camp at a steady clip, but we still got caught in the downpour. Neither man had his rain coat (breaking the first rule of mountain hiking), but even with my rain coat, I was drenched below my knees! The rain ran straight down my legs, and the heavy brush contributed enough water that my boots squelched loudly as we re-entered camp. Our nephew had run ahead since we had also left tent flaps open! We know better than to assume a sunny start to the day means it will end that way, and this was a good reminder. We got lucky that the rain didn't last long, and came straight down so that nothing inside the tents got wet. Whew!
We hung wet clothes to dry and headed to the beach. While the men fished (yes, again), the mist clung stubbornly to the mountains. But there was enough sun to dry our boots for the next morning. Nephew had the clever idea to take out the insoles, and that sped up the process.