Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boundary trail in Spring 2009

On April 22, 2009 (a Wednesday) I hiked Glacier Park's Boundary Trail with Joyce and Sue Ann. The previous week they had been calling me almost every day about going on a hike. Since my harrow and burning work was done I relented and agreed to go on a hike with them. Can't be all work all the time. And since this day was to be the last nice day for a while that was another reason to enjoy the day.

We decided to hike the Boundary Trail since we felt, with a southerly exposure, the trail would be mostly free of snow as the trail went along the middle fork of the Flathead River. And there was hardly any snow - just some small patches of snow in some trees near the beginning.

We did encounter a half dozen or more small streams across the trail. Some were small and with a few quick steps and a hop we were across. Other streams we moved up and off the trail to find a narrower part to cross. As I have long legs I crossed first then helped Sue Ann and Joyce across. And for a few other streams I found some rocks and placed them on the trail so we had something to use to help us cross the stream.

The only people we saw were two women coming back in the early part of our hike.

The Flathead River was high and moving rapidly.  It was brown from the soil erosion.

The main train line is on the other side of the river with a number of tunnels. We saw some trains but less than usual.

This area is a wintering area for elk. We didn't see any elk but we saw evidence of them. We seen four large areas of the fur from elks that didn't survive the Winter, a few pairs of legs and hooves, and a large skeleton off the trail and down the hill towards the river.

Around five miles from the trail head there is a swinging bridge that crosses Lincoln Creek. The bridge had been taken down for the Winter and the bridge's wooden pieces were stacked a short distance away from the cables that hold the bridge. We sat down and ate our lunch here.

On our walk back to the trail head Sue Ann realized she had lost her $60 sunglasses. The morning had started out sunny but with the high clouds she had placed the sunglasses on her head/hat. Joyce and I waited while Sue Ann went back to look for them. She found the sunglasses three stream crossings back.

The ticks were out on this trail. Joyce had noticed a few ticks on Sue Ann earlier during the hike and as I sat on the trail waiting for Sue Ann I discovered two ticks on my arm. Later after I got home I stripped and checked for ticks. I found five more. Then a couple days later I found a tick crawling on my bedroom wall.

The best time to hike the Boundary Trail is in the Fall when the tamaracks are changing color and no ticks. For a description and photos of a hike at that time, click here for an earlier hike I did on the Boundary Trail.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bill's niece

Bill's niece, Cheryl, from Wisconsin came to see Bill and Marilyn for a week. Joyce and Edley had Cheryl, Marilyn, Sue Ann and I over for supper and a short hike today.

We met after 4 pm and then we went on a hike on the mountain above Joyce's ranch. Our hike was a short 2 mile meander up and down the mountain as Marilyn doesn't hike much and lagged behind. I walked along with her as the others went on ahead up the mountain.

The Foys Lake to Blacktail Mountain trail people have been busy since I last hiked up here a few years ago as they have now carved out a trail on the area we hiked. They had signs up asking horse riders and mountain bicyclists not to ride on some of the side sections when the trail is soft and muddy. At least one horse rider ignored the sign.

After our hike we had supper (100% homemade from scratch and delicious) and conversation until almost dark. Sue Ann brought some photos and Joyce also got out a map of Glacier to show the trails we had hiked over the past few years.

Flathead Valley and the Swan Range

Here is a view of Foys Lake. As you can see, still completely frozen.

Here are two houses built up on the ridge. To the left is a view into Flathead Valley and the Swan Range, and to the right is a completely different view into another valley. Very fancy and expensive houses.

Here are two views of a large fancy house with the second view a closeup. You can see from the photo that the driveways to these houses on these small mountains are long. Apparently this house is owned by two psychiatrists from Chicago. Supposedly when they land at the airport here they can press a button and the house gets ready for them.

One of Edley and Joyce's new calves

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Snowshoeing to Apgar Lookout in 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009, I attempted to snowshoe to the lookout on Apgar Mountain. Attempted is the word as I didn't quite make it to the top.

I went with Joyce and Sue Ann. We had planned an early start where Joyce would get me at 8 am. At 6:45 am Joyce called me inquiring if I wanted to go as the weather didn't look the best at her place. I thought it was cloudy but seemed doable.

I was in the shower when Sue Ann called me to tell me it was sprinkling rain at her end of the Valley. As she lived closer to Glacier this was significant. She really didn't want to go. Okay, we'll postpone it.

Then a little later (at least I was out of the shower now) Sue Ann called again to say we'll wait an hour then decide. In the meantime I got on my computer and checked the weather forecast.  It said a chance of rain in the morning. I checked the Apgar Lookout web cam and also the Lake MacDonald web cam from the Apgar town site. They both showed gray dreary hazy skies. The views would not be great especially for the effort involved. When Sue Ann called back in an hour I decided not to go.

Then I sat down a minute to rest as I have gotten less than eight hours sleep and I was tired and sore from yesterday's work. A few hours later I woke to sunshine. It wasn't much later Joyce called to say the sun was shining and maybe we should go snowshoeing. All right then.

Joyce picked me up a little before noon. Therefore we didn't get to the parking area near Apgar until after 12:30pm. A late start, but the sky was mostly clear and beautiful and the temperature warm.

Another vehicle was in the parking lot but we didn't see fresh tracks on the road. I say "road" as the road to the trail head was not plowed of snow. We had to walk on snowshoes 1.9 miles to the trail head.

"Road" to the trail head.

Apgar Mountain

Once we got onto the trail itself we either had 2.8 or 3.5 miles. The sign said 2.8 but someone scratched 3.5 into the sign.

On the trail we started to encounter fallen trees. Much of this area was burnt in the Robert fire in 2003 and there were still many burned and dead trees standing.

We knew which way the trail turned and after a while we decided to go around the deadfall and cut through the forest. The way was shorter but we found that the snow was softer and at times we would sink deep into the snow even wearing our snowshoes. Joyce and Sue Ann are much shorter than I, and Sue Ann commented about falling on her boobs in the snow.

Eventually we reconnected with the trail and were glad to do so. Then again we encountered more deadfall until we got higher and the trees thinner. Sue Ann slipped while stepping over a downed tree and slid down the tree trunk. She laughed and said this was the closest she had gotten to sex in years.

On one section the trail was partially melted and we took off our snowshoes. That didn't last too long.

While putting on our snowshoes again we met a young couple coming down the trail. They said the trail ended and they had come back without reaching the top. They had never been on this trail before and didn't know which way to go. We talked them into coming back up with us. However when we came to a split in the trail and took the way they had just been, they decided to go back down as they weren't confident this was the way to go.

It certainly seemed like the trail was under the snow and we continued on. As we continued on Joyce had doubts this was the correct route and told me she would give me $100 if this was the correct route. I was certain the route was correct until I discovered the snowshoe tracks ended. By now I had doubts this was the way to go. I've been on this trail in the summer a couple times, the last time being a few years prior and I was distracted by the woman I was dating at the time. So, no, I didn't know exactly the exact location of the trail to the lookout.

Joyce and Sue Ann decided to turn around and go back down the mountain. I saw some old tracks head off in the direction I thought the lookout may be and I decided to head up that way. The tracks faded away but I kept going. I had to angle up the mountainside as it was steep. There were lots of fallen trees sticking out of the snow so I had to work around those.

I worked my way slowly until I spotted a large area of grass. I took off my snowshoes, and carrying them, climbed straight up until I came to snow again.

I scanned the mountainside upwards. How close am I to the top and the lookout? It looked so close, but the effort it had taken me to get up this far was wearing me out.

Reluctantly - very reluctantly - I turned around and hiked down to the lower part of the grassy area where the snow began again.

The mountainside was so steep that I was half skiing and half walking down. At times I got going faster than I wanted to and had to dig my shoes into the snow. When that didn't work I sat down. A number of times I maneuvered into trees to use them to slow me down or stop me before I got going too fast.
Not the best way to get down the mountainside.

Finally I came to the trail and with a plop landed on it. Going down the mountain on the trail was far easier now.

At one point, as I was stepping over a fallen tree, my snowshoe sunk deep into the snow next to the tree and I fell forward hard against the tree. I may have bruised my ribs on one side as they hurt for a week after.

I never caught up to Joyce and Sue Ann until I was off the trail and back on the road.  Note: Joyce was around 73 years old when we did this.