My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Most Beautiful Hike

On the advice of a ranger, who told me the hike to Scenic Point was one of the best hikes in Glacier,  I decided to spend Friday morning hiking this trail. The mileage (3.1- one way) seemed to be within my range and I thought I could handle the elevation (2,242 ft.), if I took it slowly.

I got up early on Friday morning to take pictures of the landscape around my campsite, before the sun got very high.  By a little after seven o'clock, I was starting up the trail.  I had it all to myself, for the first couple of hours, so called to whatever bears might be in the area and carried my bear spray.

The trail starts of innocuously enough with hardly any elevation gain and through a small forest of conifers. About a half mile up the easy trail is the spur to Appistoki Falls. The falls is only a hundred yards further.

Piece of cake hike for now
Appistoki Falls
 After enjoying the falls a few minutes, I backtracked and started up the trail again.  Within a few minutes, I was out of the tree line and starting a steady climb.  But the absence of trees made for tremendous views in three directions as I followed the switchbacks along the Mount Henry trail. One switchback took me way to the south and it took several switchbacks to get back to the north for views of Two Medicine Lake. For the first hour or so, I was hiking in the shade with the views getting every more bright. Many of my pictures were really strange looking due to this huge difference in lighting.

This is the least strange of several self portraits - lots of running involved
I found a spooky forest of dead trees and what I thought of as tree boneyards. These whitebark pines were killed by white pine blister rust, a disease accidentally introduced from Europe.

A few of the dead trees
Do you see an octopus?
Several switchbacks later, I found myself in a rocky alpine meadow with lots of flowers blooming.  Long views were getting better and better as more and more of Two Medicine Lake appeared and the views into the Appistoki Valley, Mt Henry, and the mountains around Two Medicine Lake were from an ever higher perspective.

Appistok Valley to the right and  Mt. Henry ahead of the trail

A trail side view later in the day

A golden-mantled squirrel that entertained me for several minutes

Alpine flowers along the trail
Fireweed framed by dead trees
High view of beaver ponds I'd passed on the previous hike

Some kind of penstemon- bees loved it
I was in the alpine meadow section of the climb, when I heard voices and looked back to see a scene from the Sound of Music. Five girls, who I think were Amish and who said they were from Pennsylvania, were hiking up the trail. I suspect they were in Rumshpringa. They definitely added interest to the mountain scene.

Hiking girls
Several other groups of hikers passed me, including a family with a grade school age boy, a group of women who were on a guided trip, and a few couples, all who were lots younger than me.  Finally I was passed by a group of people who looked as though some of them could be retired and at least in their 50's.  I was beginning to feel really slow, but I suspect it was mostly because I took over two hundred pictures.

Trail still winding up

Just another view
The day was getting hotter and brighter and it was now around eleven o'clock. I stopped having fun and felt like I was doing work, so I decided to turn around and go back to camp. My feet complained all the way back that my shoes were too short - I'm going to buy them a bigger pair -, and my little toe complained that my boots were pinching it and making it blister.  And I sweated - a rare event up here.

Almost as high as the top of this mountain

Same mountain from camp level
 As I got back to the parking lot, the family arrived back - they were the third group I had seen but the first to return.  We chatted a minute and found that they were from Bozeman and were also camping next to me. They planned to go swimming to cool off but I couldn't stand the bright light and decided to eat some soft huckleberry ice cream for my lunch along with my breakfast coffee which I had never gotten around to making and couldn't buy before I left.  I hung out in the air-conditioned store and browsed books until I was sure my hammock was in the shade.

Then I read for a couple of hours and waited until around five o'clock to go and mostly just sit it the wonderfully cold water. It was a great treatment for all that ailed me from the hike. After that and washing my hair, I felt like a new woman, although I was ready to go to bed early.  I had plans to get up early and drive the Going-to-the Sun Highway to the Avalanche Campground.  I knew I would have to be there before around nine o'clock in order to get a campsite. And I also remembered that there were several places where I wanted to take pictures in the morning light.

But that's a story for another blog. 

Highest view of Two Medicine Lake
If you can make it to the top, you'll be rewarded with a view of the whole Two Medicine Valley, and Upper Two Medicine, Two Medicine, and Lower Two Medicine Lakes. You can see to West Glacier and beyond. But I was happy with the views I saw.