Published: July 2nd 2012July 2nd 2012
After getting out of that water, the next hour or so felt so warm! As we got into the next campsite, we changed into dry clothes, put up our tent, hung the food, and all of a sudden on my way to the pit toilet I was stopped in my tracks as there were two mule deer standing within 10 yards of me. One on each side of the path. They looked at me as if I was in their way, and slowly sauntered off. They didn't even look startled. Me, I hurried just a little faster to my destination, more than startled.
And then we had another new addition to camp, our new backpacking member, Krista.
She is 17 and had been given the gift of 3 days 2 nights backpacking by her mother. When we first learned that she was going to join us, Corey said her mother SENT her. Andrews' comment, "What did she do?" Comical, but with Anthony teaching high school, we surmised that it wouldn't be too far out of the question as a punishment considering some of the alternatives that parents have tried for misbehaving children. Krista, however, was a joy
to be around. She wanted to be here to see what it was like, plus they were going to visit some college campuses in Montana to see if any of them might be where she would like to attend. Just in case you are wondering how she got there, she came in with another guide. They had also just come across the river, so they got warm clothes on, set up their tents in the area with Corey, and then joined us at the "dinner table".
This particular campsite also sat on the banks of a huge lake with Mts. on all sides. Throughout the week we have been so fortunate to be able to have fresh water in abundance to filter for drinking. The guides all have a filter that they carry and all the water that is used for drinking has to go through it. (At least this is the guides' recommendation for health reasons). The filter is really a neat contraption. It reminds me of one of those old timey poison spray pumps that you hold in one hand, point at the weed and with a pumping motion with the other hand spray the
poison on the weed. On a much, much smaller scale obviously, and instead of poison inside, it has a filter. There are two tubes that run out of the end of it. One has a cap fitted type collar that you put on your water bottle, the other goes into the lake or stream. The pumping motion pulls the water from the lake into the filter and out the other tube into your water bottle. We could fill all our water bottles in a matter of minutes.
It began to drizzle a bit, so once our dinner of cheese quesadilla’s and rice was consumed we pretty much all headed to our tents. It rained on and off until early in the morning. We got up somewhere around 4am to go to the "house" and on our way back had to do a double take as the moon was so low to the ground we weren't sure what it was. A very cool site, but an unnerving sort of feeling. It was almost like the moon had fallen to earth and was sitting on the hill.
The nights seemed so long since the sun didn't
really go down until about 11pm. Andrew pitched his tent in the same clearing as ours, Corey, the other guide, and Krista's tents were in a separate clearing. As we all closed ourselves in our tents the conversation didn't stop. Some nights we talked through our tent walls for an hour or so. Nothing else to do, as even Anthony had a hard time falling asleep at 8 pm. Andrew was smart though, he had a couple of batteries for his I-phone and he had downloaded some movies, and books to read. A little out of the box if you are trying to get away from it all and embrace nature, but you don't see much nature when you are entombed in nylon for 10 hours.
Day 5 had us up and at breakfast and discussing the day hike up to Bear Mt. overlook. I was looking right at it and it looked like a huge gravel mountain like what you would see at a quarry (only lots bigger). By the way - this mornings breakfast was amazing! Couscous, milk (powdered) and walnuts. This, was seriously some good stuff. No kidding!
We cleaned up
the dishes, got our water and daypacks, and met Corey to start the trip up. Krista arrived in shorts (running shorts), while we were all in hats, jackets, boots, pants, and gaiters (waterproof protectors for your shins and boots). Off we went, up, up, up! It just seemed to go on forever. At some places the path was just the width of your stride where so many people had gone up over and over, but because it was loose rocks in a lot of places, you really had to concentrate on NOT looking down from where you just came. One slip and there were no trees, or very few trees, to break your very long roll or slide to the bottom.
This hike also proved to be very challenging because of the wind. Since there were no real forest areas that we went through the wind was sharp, cold and Anthony speculated somewhere in the 50 mile an hour speed closer to the top. The views just kept getting more and more spectacular. We could see farther and farther away and the weather was incredible for seeing the entire surrounding area.
Once to the
top our snack area was like a perch on the top of the world. But that also meant there was NOTHING stopping the wind from whipping you around. My hat immediately was ripped from my head even though I had it tied on. Corey quickly rescued it for me. Our snack today was what the backpackers all call GORP. (good 'ole raisins and peanuts). Corey had thrown in some chocolate pieces for good measure. It was like Lays potato chips, once you started eating it, it was hard to stop!
Krista is now really cold! We have stopped moving, and she is sitting in a ball shivering with the biggest goose bumps I have ever seen! As we got up to head down, Anthony got into his daypack to get something and noticed that he had his rain pants in there! They were a mile too big for her, but it helped to keep some of the chill out and her body heat in. I scrounged in mine and found an extra pair of gloves that I had and gave those to her as well. Now she felt better, and the parents in us felt better too.
The trip down of course was faster, BUT we were looking DOWN a lot, and that was very dizzying at times. Corey told us ahead of time to be aware of it, and if we felt the least bit dizzy to stop, get your bearings and then continue.
Once we got almost to camp, Corey suddenly stopped, almost causing a pile up with me Krista, and him. A bear ran right across our path in front of us into the bushes! Seriously, this made me very nervous! No fences, no bars, no cars to get into for safety. We could see him - or her - where it was sort of swaying its head back and forth behind thick brush cover. I was eager to get on to camp and finish packing up to move on to the next, and last campsite. Too many images in my head of things I had seen on the Wild Back country TV stories where folks met up with bears.
Right as we were leaving camp Krista said BEAR! There it was again. Only this time it was standing up on his hind legs and
you could see it very plainly. Maybe 50 feet from where we were standing. Of course I had my camera, had the zoom lens on, got a great shot ... now ready to move on! Corey talked to it, "ok, we are moving on, you go get something to eat, no worries over here" - well HE may think there are no worries ... the bear dropped down, and moved on in the direction of the camp. Whew! Good thing we were going in the opposite direction.
The next few miles, were met with more backpackers, none of which were as cool as Freebird, and none going to Mexico. We did have a couple of guys pass us, as we had stopped for some GORP, one of which was dressed like a SWAT guy, complete with all black attire and a pistol strapped to his leg. MMMM? Ranger? Military? We didn't ask.
We got into camp, the same one that we started in 4 nights ago, and the fire pit was already taken by the SWAT guy and his group; so we took the food prep area next to them. Turns out they were
mostly a group of engineers who were on a bachelor party trip for the groom. Now, for those of you who are familiar with the TV series Big Bang Theory about a bunch of brainiacs, these were the characters in that show in real life. The gun we figured was just for show. One was trying to chop up some sticks to use on the fire in such a manner that Anthony and I actually discussed that it was painful to watch! Another had crafted a hatchet out of a rock that they had obviously gotten from the park (a Big no, no) that looked like if he tried to hit something with it, the rock would come flying out of the strapping, and be hurled in the direction of the chopping motion. I choose not to make eye contact.
Dinner tonight was the best of the entire week! This is one I will make here at home. Boiled pasta (7 different kinds - bowtie, macaroni, shells, etc all different colors). After Corey drained it, he poured a mixture over it that he had concocted and had been carrying with him marinating for the whole week, and
once dished out, topped it off with parmesan cheese. The marinade mixture was: sundried tomatoes, chopped basil, and chopped garlic all combined in olive oil.
Very nice job Corey! The guide service has a pantry that they "order" the meals that they want to bring with them on the trip. A lot of it is dried food, but some, like this one, was a special treat.
Tonight also was story night. A funny story about something that happened to him when he was walking the Appalachian Trail, and then the story of how two of the lakes in the park were named. Cool to hear some of the history of the park.
Clean up ... more conversation, and to the tents we go. By this time we are pros at where everything should go inside the tent for easy access. Doesn't take us as long to get situated. Our nighttime chatter has become familiar, and we find ourselves talking about the trip and getting back to civilization.
Day 6 - After breakfast, a last minute pit break, and we were off for the last 6 miles of our adventure. I
could have stayed longer, Anthony was ready to go. Sleeping was his biggest issue due to his shoulder and the lack of a 3 in. mattress pad! All the way back we periodically took a look over our shoulder to see where we had been. At our break - we decided not to take the extra time to take our packs off ... so we just used them as our backrests. Should have thought if this earlier in the week! A week ago, we were hiking in mud, today it was a dry path.
Our adventure together didn't stop once we got back to the van. We had a great lunch waiting for us, including Mt. Dew! We made the 2 plus hour trip back to the Montana Guide office, unloaded, and within less than an hour we all found ourselves at the laundramat together. Sharing the trips highs and lows and pictures. By the time all the clothes were dried we had decided to meet for one last meal together. One were we didn't have to wash the dishes afterward.
We ate at the Belton Chalet. An incredible chef on staff and
some items I had to ask what they were the menu was so fancy from what I was accustomed to. Krista's mom joined us, and we literally were the last guests out of the dining room. Our server had already come out of his apron. Good company! To our surprise Andrew had picked up the tab for us all! Thank you AGAIN Andrew!
Once outside, we said parting words again, but this time with hugs, and promises to keep in touch. When was the last time that you went on vacation and made that kind of bond with the people who just happened to be on the same trip as you?
I highly recommend this Guide Service, this trip, this restaurant and this lodge! Check it out. http://www.glacierguides.com/backpacking_rafting_checklist_for_glacier_guides_and_montana_raft_company.html
Thank you for joining us on our trip! Any questions, I will be happy to make your backpacking trip as good as mine was!
A week ago, we were apprehensive of EVERYTHING, today we were APPRECIATING everything. A week ago, we didn't know one another, today we have friends traveling with us. A week ago I would have told you I would do this once, for the experience, but maybe not again, today I would tell you I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Amazing what time does for your perspective.