Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nothing but PRIME

Timing played such a big part today in making this adventure a "Nothing but PRIME" one! 

The hike to North Molar Pass is known to be a spectacle in the Meadow section if you pick the right time to venture into the area.  I forecast today to be that day so put the plan in place.  I was not in charge of the weather forecast which was for isolated showers around 11:00-1:00 and instead of receiving just that, we were dished with rain, sleet, hail, wind, thunder and lightning. This all happened upon us while in the forest so we opted to alter our pace and snack stop to time our exit from the forest as the sky cleared.  

As we exited the forest, the sky turned blue then it warmed up and became "Nothing but PRIME" for the balance of the day.  This was one of the first wide open spectacular views.  The wild flowers were in abundance and appeared as a mosaic carpet in all directions.  My plan was to spend time in Molar Meadow giving it the admiration it deserved.
hiking deep into the Meadow
Middle of Molar Meadow
a PRIME view of sky, mountains, creek, meadow
At the end of Molar Meadow is where you begin the ascent to North Molar Pass.  It is a bit of a steeper climb so I took lots of breaks to catch my breath, turn around and enjoy the view.  This is looking back down into the Meadow where we just were.  The few white puffy clouds stuck around all day and I was so glad for that.  
A view from North Molar Pass
We continued down a very short section on the other side of the Pass to seek shelter from the cool wind and to have a view looking down into the valley below.  A backpackers trail leads down into this area and the Fish Lakes Campground is situated at the far end.  We had a PRIME spot up here for lunch and relaxation.
play time came after lunch
Before leaving the high point at North Molar Pass, I captured my high point shot!
After the rocky descent we headed to the opposite side of Mosquito Creek for the hike back through Molar Meadow.  The views from this side were just as PRIME.  It allowed us the opportunity to be close to the Creek and listen to its soothing sounds.
A late afternoon break spot doesn't get any better than one like this!
We made our way past Mosquito Lake where I got one last photo of the wild flower spectacle and then crossed over to meet up with the main trail which would bring us back to the forest.  We made great time through the forest, safely crossed back over the highway and happily arrived back at the vehicles, finally.  
PRIME time?  Indeed!  
PRIME scenery?  Most definitely!  
PRIME friends?  Absolutely!  
Today was a fabulous birthday hike for me.  
It was more than I had hoped for!
Thank you all for sharing it with me!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cheerful & colorful....

....that was my run this morning!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 5 July 18 - Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park Montana

What a day this was packed full of "I just want to feel this moment" moments.  

I got to the Many Glacier Hotel early knowing I needed to, to get a parking spot.  I did not want to start out on my own hiking the first couple of kilometers early, through the dense forest and narrow winding pathway.  That is a recipe for face to face grizzly encounter!  I went down to the boat dock for 8:00 am when it opened and the Ranger-led 8:30 boat was already full with two groups already on a wait list.  I added my name just in case.  At 8:30 the attendant announced the first group on the wait list who acknowledged and headed for the boat, there was no answer when the second group was called, I said a prayer then my name was called!  I jumped for joy and ran to the boat!  

When we docked at the end of Lake Josephine, everyone gathered around to listen to the Ranger.  I did not want to go with that group so quietly spoke with a couple of others who were game to go with me on our own.  We began the hike then made introductions and chatted lots.  One other caught up with us and then two more so we were a very safe group of six.

After taking the boat, not much time is spent in the trees hiking, the view opens quite quick.  
The trail is clear as far as we can see and even clear of folks.  Today is the first day of the year the trail is open all the way to the end.  We got the early start which meant we would be one of the first to be there.  Well, there were only about 8 before us as it turned out.  That did not include the six snow shovellers who darted past us on the trail to finish the shoveling that was not completed yesterday. 
Grinnell Lake!
What a color!
I stopped to admire it and also...
"I just want to feel this moment!"
Further along and higher up we could now see off in the distance Swiftcurrent Lake, Josephine Lake and Grinnell Lake closest to us.  It was a spectacular sight and I just love how those few little clouds came along as an added bonus to make the perfect picture.
The melt water from Grinnell Glacier. 
I walked onto the solid section.
I got my summit shot...
Being suspended in air...
"I just want to feel this moment!"
Two from our group needed to leave right away while the rest of us stayed a bit to have lunch, take photos, explore and like me just to take time to be thankful and appreciative that we could be here today.  When we did leave, I glanced back one more time and seeing the blue sky and emerald water, I just had to have one last shot.
It was such a hot day!
I looked forward to an opportunity to cool off!
I dropped my pack...
Stood under the falls...
"I just want to feel this moment!"
Grinnell Lake again on the way back.
The four of us stuck together as we all nixed taking the boat back in favour of hiking back to the trail head at Many Glacier Lodge.  Most of the trail beyond where we would have caught the boat was green, lush and grown to shoulder height for me.  It was very narrow and very winding so we were very noisy.  This was an absolutely unbelievable day!  I felt so very happy with how this vacation played out and now I was ready to head home after one last night of wine, a fire and sleeping in my tent.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 4 July 17 - Scenic Point Glacier National Park Montana

The Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park has its own distinctive look and I ventured there today to hike Scenic Point.  Before hitting the trail, I went down to the lake-side to get a reflection shot. It was perfection today!  It was early and it was already very warm.  The Ranger at the Station said to watch the sky because thunder storms are being forecast for the afternoon.
The first kilometer is in the trees then its open from there on in right up to the summit.  That's not the greatest for when it is hot but it is fabulous for wide open views.  What a combination of red mountains, gnarly trees and green slopes.  This is further up after already a number of switchbacks. 
Then the vista!
After the last corner, my objective came into sight which is that top knob sticking out in the far middle.  
Now the full Two Medicine Lake is visible.
I owned the summit for my 20 minute visit!
I enjoyed lunch...
Then found the perfect spot...
To get my summit shot and...
Just stand there....
"I just want to feel this moment!"
Nothing but blue sky, sunshine, view upon view upon view.
It is being in places like this that make me feel like "I am on top of the world!"
I was back to St Mary with loads of time to grocery shop again, shower, then drive down to check into the Visitor Center for updated trail conditions and to find a doable hike for tomorrow.  It was about 4:00, I think, when I asked the Ranger what the latest conditions were for Grinnell Glacier.  She beamed with delight, smiled wide and announced "it just opened 30 minutes ago"!  I shrieked with joy!      She said they blasted snow two days ago and spent today shoveling open areas.  That explains the thunderous noise I heard while dining at the Grinnell Glacier Overlook.  I walked back to my car giving thanks for my stars continuing to align.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 3 July 16 - Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana

I already had that "stars are aligning for me" feeling and this is only the beginning of Day 3.  Yesterday the Ranger told me the Highline Trail just fully opened two days prior so I knew right then and there I needed to hike that trail today.  I was up early to watch the sunset just a 30 second walk from my campsite.  This sight ignited my excitement for today!
I got to Logan Pass around 8:00 am to be guaranteed a parking spot and to hit the trail early so I could take my time, do the full one way hike and include the Overlook, while being sure to be at the Loop well before the last bus leaves.  Many folks were in the same mind-set as me and my concern of being alone was thrown by the way side.  The very first wide open view is of the trail ahead and the Going-To-The-Sun Road down below.
beargrass was plentiful
beargrass and mountains make a nice pairing
Mid way along the long stretch of the Highline Trail, a fellow solo "Canadian Girl" joined up with me. It was nice to have company, plus our pace was similar as were our interests and topics for discussion.  This was the first sighting of the Granite Park Chalet.  It also meant the detour along The Garden Wall to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook was close.  
While other folks just hiked on by, this detour to the Overlook was a definite must for both of us.  It was a slow grind, in the sweltering heat and it was exhausting but so well worth it.  Before doing anything...
I dropped my pack...
Positioned myself for my summit shot...
because this is where...
I felt like I was on top of the world...
"I just want to feel this moment!" 
view below me towards Grinnell Glacier
We picked a somewhat sheltered spot facing Lady MacDonald Lake to have our lunch.  The view was breathtaking.  I cherished these moments and took time to be thankful that I was right here, right now, present in the moment.  In these quiet moments just around noon, I did hear a thunderous noise and just attributed it to an avalanche occurring somewhere.  I did find out later that was not the case, but instead,   the stars were once again aligning for me. 
After lunch we began the steep descent down The Garden Wall back to the Highline Trail.  Our next destination was the Granite Park Chalet which you can see in the photo below as the dark spot lower mid right.  It looked so far away but took no time to get there. We took a few moments here to fuel up again before attacking the 4 kms down hill through the treed secluded portion that would bring us out to The Loop.  This part could not go by quick enough, it was so hot and I was beat.
We safely made it to The Loop with loads of time.  My friend for the day was heading West and I was heading East, so we shared our Thank Yous then parted ways and got on our buses.  When I planned this trip and was checking the trail status each day, it was looking like this one would not be doable.  I feel so fortunate for how today turned out!  Thank you "Canadian Girl" for sharing today with me!