Monday, August 26, 2013

27th Anniversary of the Incident of 1986

So... I turned 27 today. Perhaps it's that I'm still 'young' but I thoroughly enjoy birthdays and getting older. It just seems to me that the older I get the better life gets. I hope I never feel differently about this.
To celebrate my birthday this year in the same fashion as last year, I dedicated the day to do exactly whatever I wanted to do. At the top of my list the year was to stand on Wild Goose Island in St. Mary's Lake near the east entrance to Glacier National Park. This idea came to me a few weeks earlier as I sat pondering life and snapped this picture.
I've stared at that island several times since I first laid eyes on it at the age of 8, but on a more recent trip it was set in my head that everyone stares at it. Thousands of people a day- in the heat of tourist season- snap photos of it but if I wanted to do something different, I'd have to go to it. Conquer it.
So that's exactly what my roommate, Debbie, & I set out to do. 

However, when we got to Glacier that day we were greeted by nearly 20 mph winds & 3 ft white caps on the lake.
After assessing the situation over lunch at the WGI overlook, we decided to wait it out a bit and head to Many Glacier to see if any bears were out. Lucky for us, my record is still clean and I have yet to visit Many Glacier and not see a bear. After OoOoing and ahhing over the plump grizzly we decided it was time to reassess the situation at the lake.

Despite the strong winds, we decided to take one of the boards down to the rocky beach and test the waters, per say. 
It was too much fun. Even with the less than stellar waters, after playing for nearly two hours Debbie hiked back up to mi Baja & retrieved the second board to make the journey to the island.
While she hiked back up the mountainside, I decided to venture out to the island in an effort to make use of our dying sunlight.
That little dot the the lower right hand of the island is yours truly
There are no pictures of my solo trip to the island but the ones Deb took from the lookout, but I may or may not have sang happy birthday to myself (and a few others), thanked my lucky stars, & proudly stood on Wild Goose Island missing my parents more than ever (I made it Dad! I didn't accidentally kill/harm myself Mom!)

Around that time, Debbie joined me for a last few photos and a return back to the beach to check the time. 
Wild Goose Island from the back
Seeing as we had plenty of time to pack up and get down the road before closing time (they were doing construction on several parts of the Going to the Sun Road & closed from 9pm-7am on weekdays) we did as any Montanan would do when presented w/ a "private" beach and a beautiful lake at sunset; skinny dipping!
Right then the last tour boat of the night made it's round. -_- Here's to hoping NONE of the tourists had telephoto lenses!
A short hike back up the trail and we were on our way down the road. We stopped at Lake McDonald to eat our dinners on the dock & watched the sun set against the continental divide.
Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, phone calls, text messages, facebooks, & instagrams. You have no idea how much it means & how loved a girl can truly feel. 
Here's to another beautiful year. *cheers*

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clearwater Lake Revisited

FINALLY!!!!! I can finally cross this off my list!!! Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Perhaps I should start from the beginning...

After another long 6-day work week, I came home completely exhausted Saturday afternoon & began packing my camping gear. After a short nap, my friend Lydia, and her two friends arrived at my door and as the sun was starting to set, we heading towards Seeley with the intentions of throwing down our ground pads and sleeping out under the stars. However, our late start prevented us from finding a site at any of the campgrounds among the numerous lakes north of Seeley. Not one to be easily discouraged, I  suggested a campsite a little off the beaten path I had remembered seeing on a hike last year. So the girls put their trust in me and we turned the truck off the highway and down a forest service road for a 7 mile drive.
It was perfect. When we arrived the site at the trailhead was free and we positioned the truck to light our little nook. While Lydia, Linds and I set up tents, Abby set to making a fire. Before long, it was time to call it a night and we all crawled into our designated tents and into dreamland.
The next morning, after a short hike to the shore of Clearwater Lake, we all returned to camp for breakfast. I was standing on the road, munching on a delicious cinnamon roll when something down the road caught my eye. It wasn't moving, but the black motionless shape just seemed out of place, even in the distance to my failing eyes.

We stood staring at each other for about 2 minutes before it decided to let me know my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. The second it moved, it revealed a second grey wolf behind it. Even at that distance we locked eyes as they padded slowly towards me for a short distance.

Once their curiosities had been satisfied, they dropped back into the forest and quickly out of sight. A few minutes later their howls could be heard bouncing off the canyon walls for the next 15-20 minutes. Wolves were the last animal I had yet to see in the wild. I am a happy girl.

We finished breakfast in silence, listening to the chatter of the two wolves, before heading down to hike the short trail that encircles Clearwater Lake.
Finding ourselves w/ plenty of time left in the day, we then ventured to Holland Falls for Lydia's first trip up the trail to the falls.

I'll most certainly fall asleep w/ a smile on my face. Thank you Nature. You never disappoint.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Star Light, Star Bright

Every August, in the Northern Hemisphere, a grand show lights up the sky at night known as the Perseid meteor shower. During it's peak, one can easily see 50 shooting stars an hour. All you need to do to see this spectacle is find yourself somewhere away from city lights and simply look up. No special equipment is required.
This is one of my favorite times of summer and although I did not get to enjoy what was considered the peak night to view the heavens, I was darn close. I found myself again at the top of Blue Mountain with a great friend, on my back on a blanket in a field, staring at the stars. 
For the record, that's the moon behind us, not the sun. What a night for star gazing! We averaged about 30 an hour. Falling stars or not, if you find yourself sans city lights, look up and think about floating through space. Carl Sagan would be proud.