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Random thoughts and pictures from our travels in a LazyDaze motorhome.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Continental Divide, Helena, MT.

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After leaving Rainy Lake, we headed for Helena, traveling on Highway 200 and then U.S. 12. Both good roads. There is a good pull up to the Continental Divide around 6300 feet west of Helena that has a USFS campground, which was closed for tree removal. The campground was named after Cromwell Dixon, the first person to fly an aircraft across the divide in 1911. He was awarded $10,000 for his feat, but was killed a couple of days later during an airshow in Spokane. There is an observation area at the top which is essentially a big gravel parking area. The other nice aspect besides the view, is that the Continental Divide Trail goes through the parking area too. The image is looking east into the distant valley of Helena.

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The rig, looking east.

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Since the trail was right there, we took a hike on the CDT.

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This is a section of the trail. We hiked about 40 minutes in before we could no longer stand the biting flies. The flies were about three times as big as a normal fly. As long as you kept moving, it wasn’t bad.

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Carla walked up on the knoll behind the rig and took some shots of the setting sun.

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Since we were already here, we spent the night. On to Helena tomorrow, for a Costco stop, some laundry, and hopefully an alignment shop to check the Jeep.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rainy Lake, MT

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We found a wildlife viewing area about 15 miles north of Seeley Lake on highway 83 called Rainy Lake. There is one nice site for an RV with 4 tent camping sites. This is the view walking down to the lake. No trash pickup or water but you can’t complain since its free.

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This is the view looking up valley. Those are the Swan mountains. This lake is part of a chain of lakes on the Clearwater River. The lake is about 85 acres or so. We watched an osprey do its thing, diving into the water trying to catch a trout. He never did catch one while we were watching. Several fisherman tried their luck over the several days we stayed here, to no avail. Loons were occasionally singing from another lake not far away. We just LOVE listening to loons.

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A fisherman told us about the fish ladder about 1/4 mile down the small outlet stream. Here it is. Small fish were trying to jump over the ladder. None made it. He said that this lake is about the only one on the Clearwater River that does not have pike in it. This ladder stops them. He said pike are ruining the lakes in Montana by eating all the trout since pike is a non-native species. No fishing was allowed at this spot, and the the sign said there “maybe” video surveillance.

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Another shot…pretty damn nice. This lake has persuaded us in getting inflatable kayaks. The water was SO inviting. During the winter the snow just piles up with little wind. That fisherman I talked to earlier said he has seen the tops of fence posts piled six feet high with snow. Don’t see that happening in Iowa!

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We took a drive on a loop closer to the Swan mountains to get this shot. If you look closely you will see dead trees, the beetles are beginning to take a toll. This is looking down-valley into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, which extends east over the mountains too. The “Bob” supports the largest concentration of grizzly in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Speaking of bear, we recommend the Hungary Bear Restaurant up the road near Condon, MT. Excellent food and probably the best apple pie that Carla has had in a long time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

McDonald Lake, Glacier NP, MT.

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McDonald Lake is quite beautiful, but as you can see there was quite a bit of haze in the atmosphere. The water temperature was a tad cool, but it felt really good since it was around 90 degrees, with a relative humidity of 20% or so. There are a few private cabins along the lake at this end that have been handed down through the generations since the lake originally began drawing permanent residents in the late 1800s.

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A bit of zoom. The Going-To-The-Sun road travels along the right side of the lake to that distant ridge on the left side of the image. That is the Garden Wall.

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This is the left (north) side of the lake. The fires of 2003 took a toll. The lake was formed by melting glaciers.

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If you drive down the road a piece to the Avalanche campground area, you can walk on an elevated boardwalk through a Western Red Cedar forest. These trees are fairly large.

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They also have a shallow root structure which makes them relatively easy to blow over.

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Carla loved the boardwalk and damp environs.

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Mossy rocks…

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Another big cedar. Fire has not swept through this area since the 1500s.

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The water is SO clear.

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From the boardwalk you can hike two miles back to Avalanche Lake. It is not a flat hike. This pic was taken on the edge of an avalanche zone looking into the darker forest. Carla kept thinking lions, tigers, and bears, oh my… I lightened the image up some so that you could see into the forest a bit. It was fairly dark.

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Avalanche Lake. There is a smaller lake feeding those waterfalls. If you could find a way, Hidden Lake is several miles off to the left.

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After returning from the lake, we traveled up the road some more driving through this tunnel.

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A view to the west (left) from the tunnel. Not a great pic, but you get the idea. Fire was here in 2003.

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Looking up the valley (north) from the previous pic, and where the road makes a hairpin turn.

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Turn around and that is the view with Logan Pass in the middle. You can see where the road traverses the Garden Wall.

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The “other” person was driving as this poor little scruffy bear turned back to look to see if he was going to get run over by the crazy Jeep driver who kept yelling Bear, Bear, Bear!  He practically jumped off the edge of the cliff. I properly berated the driver for such nasty tactics.

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A nice waterfall to end the day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Medicine Lake Tour

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The next day we decided to do a hike on the north side of the lake. This the view from near the campground as you look west to the Continental Divide. There is a loop around the lake which is a 7.5 mile hike. You cross over to the other side below that mountain in the distance. This side of the lake has a LOT more bear activity. In fact, signs were posted as we begun our hike about the bear hazard. We did see scat, but no bears. Which I think is due to my wonderful “Hey Bear” calling. Carla was ready to turn around at one point, but we ended up doing the entire hike, even though we had originally not planned too.

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A nice stream that feed into the lake on the west side. You can ride a motorized boat to the this end and save yourself about 3.5 miles of hiking. For some reason, we did not take more pictures on this hike. Maybe we wanted to keep going and not dally.

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There is a nice campground store here that has plenty of beverages to drink and self-serve ice cream too. We were parched after not taking enough water with us, so I selected a local brew root beer and Carla had a huckleberry flavored drink. Both so-so, but the bottles were cool!

This is my backpacking hammock and a perfect piece of gear for a nap. Unfortunately, it was too hot at that spot when Carla took the shot. Several hours later, I was resting in it when we heard LOTS of loud shouting up the trail in the heavy bear active zone. We even heard a shot from what sounded like a pistol. So, I assume some people had some adrenaline pumping…

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Medicine, Glacier NP, MT.

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After leaving St. Mary Campground, we headed south back through Browning to East Glacier. East Glacier is not much, but they do have a nice Amtrak Station, and its a short walk to a very nice and expansive old-style timber lodge. About 12 miles up the road and in the park is the Two Medicine campground. This is an image of the outlet of Two Medicine lake which flows out of a horizontal slot in the rock formation.

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After eating breakfast at the Whistle Stop Cafe in town (awesome omelets and stuffed French toast) we took off on a hike along the south side of the lake. This waterfall was a cool stop along the way.

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This was our destination after a 600 foot climb in about a half mile. You can climb that big mountain to my right too. Its only a 2400 feet in three miles.

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A better view. Our campground is at the end of the lake where those barely visible white spots are.

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A bit closer view. The Continental Divide Trail goes through the campground.

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A view of the trail…

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An area of weeds…errr…flowers. That tall stuff is Cow Parsnip.

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Purtee flowers…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Many Glaciers

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The Many Glacier Hotel and campground is about 20 miles up the road from St. Mary. The entrance road is along a nice long lake with these mountains in the background. For some reason it was a bit hazy, or more likely, crappy photography.

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The name is now a misnomer, since this is really the only glacier that is left, Grinnell. See the splitting waterfalls in the middle of the image? That is our destination.

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Before we had a chance to park, this grizzly was causing a stir. Fair size at maximum zoom.

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There are two valleys that meet here. That mountain is the divider.

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There is a chain of three lakes up this valley. Two of the lakes have motorized boats for short cruises. We are going up around the bend on the subtle trail on the right. I figured the boats were air-lifted in.

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Another shot of the ever-shrinking glacier.

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Lake output equals lake input.

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We hiked through some awesome bear habitat, clapping and whistling. You are suppose to carry bear repellant, but we did not. We actually had loudly singing kids for some of the hike. Here is a one hiker load limit suspension bridge.

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Our destination, Grinnell Lake, which sits just below Grinnell Glacier. You can hike to the glacier, but it was closed due to bear activity.

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I glassed the area for bear and goat activity. I found goat, but no bear.

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Here is that bridge again on the way back. The water was flowing quickly.

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Some flowers on the return trail on the other side of the lake. This is a portion of the Continental Divide Trail that runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.

We checked out the campground here, and it was packed. Not a good location for solar collectors due to the trees. On the way back to camp, I needed a canister of propane for the small Weber grill we carry in the rig. I need to do better advance planning since I paid the nine bucks for one canister :(  Tomorrow we move, so hopefully we have Internet.