Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Glacier Hiking, Day Two

We decided to take the shuttle from Apgar Visitor's Center to Logan Pass after driving on the Going-to-the-Sun road yesterday and scrambling to find a parking place.  Rangers and seasoned employees told us the parking lot often fills up by 8 AM.  We found a spot at Apgar, but waited about 30 minutes for the Shuttle to arrive, so it was 11 o'clock when we began our hike on the Highline Trail. It was definitely Bradleigh's goal to do the entire Loop Trail.  I fussed about the Loop Trail because it was 11.6 miles, the last 4 miles, a drop of 2300.'  I knew I could do it if we had enough time, but with only 8 hours to hike and catch the last shuttle at 7:00 PM,  I was leery.  I asked several people, young and old, rangers and returnees who did not give me much encouragement for the long hike. Bradleigh teased me that I believed everyone talked to.  At the beginning of the hike we did not know if we were just hiking 3.6 miles to Haystack Pass and back out, or 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet and then the last 4 miles down to the Loop to catch the Shuttle.

 The Highline Trail is an extremely popular hike; and for good reason. At every step, and every turn, hikers will have absolutely spectacular scenery as the Highline follows along the Continental Divide, also known as the Garden Wall in this area. The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life. If you're looking for solitude, however, you won't find it on this trail.
Roughly one-quarter of a mile from the trailhead you'll arrive at the famous ledge with the reputation for terrifying those with a fear of heights. In most places the ledge, hanging like a shelf on the Garden Wall, is only six to eight feet in width, and has drop-offs of roughly a hundred feet or so down to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below. This segment lasts for only three-tenths of a mile, but may seem forever if you have a fear of heights. Fortunately the National Park Service has installed a hand cable along this stretch of the trail. My advice is to not let this deter you, as this is one of the most scenic trails in America.


 We both loved the beginning of the hike - a little intimidating, but actually exhilarating.  


We reached our lunch spot, Haystack Pass, at 1:30.  I'm grateful Bradleigh did not lose patience with me as I re-read the hike in her book and talked to a couple who'd hiked the trail two years ago.  They finally convinced me we would make it ( 7 miles) to the shuttle by 7 PM.  So we took off at 2 and it was my goal to reach the chalet by 4, leaving 3 hours for the last 4 miles, all downhill. 

The views were stunning and the hike relatively easy after lunch. We had to stand in line for the bathroom at the Chalet, then rest our feet and buy some Gatorade, so it was 4:45 as we headed down the last four miles.  
But not before we posed for a few pictures..

After one mile Bradleigh said to me, "I just realized how far four miles is!  This is kinda crazy."  But then we ran into this amazing creature.
The last three miles I tried to think positive, to pray, to conserve my last cup of water, to sing, to praise God for the incredible beauty of this glorious park.  But mostly,  I thought about my aching feet and wondered if we would make it to the bottom.  Nice people encouraged us along the way, especially a couple from California.  Bradleigh managed to walk much faster than I did and so we encountered this couple at different times.  At 6:15 they reassured me we only had 30 minutes of hiking left.  Whew!  But I knew they lied, because it was almost 7 when I found Bradleigh and she told me we still had .5 miles to go.   She went on ahead and when I finally arrived at the shuttle stop she was visiting with the couple and they agreed to take us right down to the visitor's center!  Hikers are nice, happy, and kind!!!  It's one reason I love punishing my body over and over.

Here's a YouTube video about our hike!

Dirty shoes and all those steps - we were proud we made it!

Those words Bradleigh wrote on Instagram made every sore muscle worth it!




Glacier National Park, Part I

There was no hesitation for me when Bradleigh told her mom, "I have six days off and I know I'm welcome to go with you to Priest Lake, but what I'd rather go to Glacier National Park."  "I'll go with you," I said.  "And, if you do all that time consuming searching for a place to sleep, I'll even pay for it."  She began looking at campgrounds, sleeping in tents, then RV's parked in a campground, rooms with waterbeds, Yurts, and even hammock camping.  I finally had to remind her that I totally preferred a real bed and running water.  We giggled through our search for an AirBnb at the last minute, but actually did find a few rooms with two beds, so that cemented the deal for us.  Bradleigh works crazy hours at a local hospital, 12 hour shifts, six days in a row, so we began our trip the day after her last shift ended at 3AM so she could try to get acclimated to sleeping at night instead of during the day.  We decided to drive to Sandpoint for our first night's stay and I found a reasonable AirBnb with two beds not far from Lake Pend'Orielle.
Bradleigh got a little nervous as she drove up and down a gravel road to this home, our first AirBnb stop outside of Sandpoint.  We called it "sketchy" but actually the beds were soooo comfortable, which made up for the fact that we had to travel through the family living room to get to our bathroom.


I felt less anxious reading the host's signs scattered throughout the house.

 We enjoyed a nice dinner and lovely walk, admiring the sunset and flowers, and then had huckleberry ice cream for dessert.

Our next AirBnb reservation was in a lodge in an old RV park near West Glacier, just six miles from the park.  I called it the Catholic room because it used to be Catherine, the owner's, bedroom.  It appears she choose not to redecorate it after she moved downstairs.



We began our adventure in the park by renting kayaks and paddling around Lake McDonald before dinner.  The fires at Sperry Creek hazed our view of the mountains, but not our spirits!




Day One we took the advice of everyone who has ever been to Glacier and hiked to Avalanche Lake.  Lovely, easy, 5 mile hike along Avalanche Creek.  The footbridge crosses the creek near the Trail of the Cedars, a handicapped accessible hike.  The Sperry Creek Fire inhibited our views of Bearhat Mountain and Little Matterhorn, but we took victory pictures nevertheless.

This little creature had no fear as we rested on a bench.  He actually climbed up Bradleigh's back looking for peanuts or other crumbs.  
 We finished our first hike before noon so Bradleigh decided she could drive up to Logan's Pass on the Rising to the Sun highway.
 The views were stunning and we stopped whenever we could pull over to get out of the car.  The big problem on the road and at Logan's Pass is limited parking.  We could find to place to park in the parking lot so we headed back down the hill.   When we found a spot just a half mile from the center I begged Bradleigh to walk up, behind another gentleman, on the narrow road to the visitor's center.   She reluctantly did it and she bought a T-Shirt and I visited with a park ranger about the hike to Hidden Lake, just 1.5 miles from the visitor's center.

The boardwalk trail involved a lot of "knee-ups" but the wildflowers and views were so worth it.  



I took this picture of a family carrying their snow ski's - the father said to me, "where's there is snow, we will go."

















The view from the Hidden Lake overlook actually took our breath away.  Much less smoke in this area.





We had a great time today, even if we were a bit indecisive about how to spend our afternoon.   In the end, sometimes the spur of the moment decisions are the best!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Happiness Attacks

I enjoyed a lovely vacation with my sisters and Marilyn's daughter, Karlee in Littleton and Westminster, Colorado last week. It's not always possible, but I try to read the daily scriptures and reflections from a Benedictine periodical called, "Give Us This Day."  The reflection on Sunday, titled "Happiness Attacks" caught my eye and I decided the title is appropriate for this blog post.  Melanie Svoboda's reflection focused on the scriptures, particularly the Transfiguration.  She describes the euphoria the apostles felt on the mountain top as happiness attacks.  She encourages the reader to recognize that "God's beauty or goodness or love breaks through the surface of our everyday....even though His presence is often hidden in the trials and ambiguities of daily living."  I didn't get pictures of every happiness attack, but here are a few....
Spending quality time with my sisters!
And Karlee, especially decorating her classroom.  Notice the lovely dress she's wearing - she and her friend, Nicole, took a sewing class and each made a dress.   Lots of happiness for me listening to those young women tracing the pattern pieces!

 We did a lot of work with and for Karlee in her third grade classroom.  We labeled cubbies and containers, put colored stickers on books, and made a tulle curtain to cover up the ugly blinds on her windows!

We were exhausted after two days of work, up and down ladders; on and off the floor.  Teaching is not for the older generation!  Karlee plans to teach cursive handwriting and lots of thinking strategies.  I found a set of posters describing the thinking strategies and Karlee had to teach me the meaning of such words as inference, schema, and synthesize.  Connie, a former teacher, totally bought into the words and reassured me that third graders would understand and be able to verbalize the strategies!  Gosh, that's not what I learned in third or any other grade for that matter!  


 Lots of Ryan's baseball games were cancelled due to rain this summer, so we got to watch a make up game tonight.
Grace posed with her "found" pink scarf.


The kids table and chairs from our family home often enable happiness attacks!  The table provides the platform for all the budding artists in this family.  Connie's working on Ryan's requested orange cat picture!

Happiness attacked me when we shopped at Joann's for fleece fabric to make four blankets.  Grace got really excited when I found this fishing fleece.  It was the first blanket she sewed for her Dad!
She chose the butterflies for her neighbor, Tammy, who suffers from MS.

Lots of happiness the day Grace made crepes for me.  She gets cookbooks from the local library and Maureen is teaching her to cook.  The crepes were perfect!




Connie and I had serious happiness attacks when we navigated the Denver Light Rail system, all the way from Mineral to Westminster, where Karlee lives.  And, the best it cost us $1.30 each one way because we are senior citizens!  The stations are just five minutes from Maureen's home and the same for Karlee's home in Westminster.

We Kop girls had a major happiness and laughter attack when we looked at the photos of our family home, which is currently for sale in Cottonwood.  The emotions of shock and disbelief overcame us...green kitchen cabinets and a purple wall in the living room!  Our only disappointment was that there were no pictures of the downstairs bathroom so we don't know if the multi colored tile disappeared or not!

I loved our Saturday morning visit to Hudson Gardens.  The Gaekes often ride their bikes to this lovely event center, but we just walked around and admired the gardens and walking trails.


This little bunny acted like someone's pet.  He/she didn't seem bothered as we got close.


Lovely Grace among the lily pads.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch at this unique restaurant in downtown Littleton.  Maureen told us the story of a woman who owns and operates the restaurant and customers pay whatever they want for their food.  Over 120 volunteers each month help serve the food.   We were happy to support this wonderful endeavor.  Their core values:

Our Core Values.  We will…

Invite, welcome and love all people
Show you the beauty in simplicity
Focus on food that is friendly to your own kitchen
Use what we have and limit the excess
Give back often and with joy


We are project crazy people so Karlee and Marilyn spray painted two benches!  Maureen loves the green color and the happy pillow Marilyn made for her.




God's beauty and love broke through many moments of this vacation and I experienced many happiness attacks.  I'm grateful that my sisters were willing to travel with me and grateful to Karlee and Maureen for the wonderful hospitality!