The Mountains of Montana
After South Dakota we cut across oil country in the northeast corner of Wyoming, making it to Big Sky after dark. We stayed with Jesse and Kate for a couple of nights, which was awesome. Jesse and Kate were both really hospitable and also happen to be great cooks. Even better, Jesse keeps a vegan kitchen which made Becca and I very happy! There was a great view of Lone Peak from their window, and we got up early enough to see the alpenglow.
Before work, Jesse took us down to Ousel Falls. Since it was early we had the trail to ourselves, and took in the lush scenery lining the river. The waterfall was pretty impressive, and there are trails that offer many different views of it. Porter tried to take a drink and fell into a deep pool at the top of the falls, which would have been pretty serious had there been more water. She swam to the edge and I dragged her out. This would be the first of many rapids adventures for Porter.
Since Jesse and Kate actually have jobs, Becca and I went without them to Beehive Basin.
A lot of the hiking out here seems to go to really beautiful basins with alpine lakes, and that’s great, but we wanted a little more. So we climbed up the talus and chute that leads to Beehive Peak. Needless to say, it was an exhilarating if not sketchy climb; steep, plenty of loose rock, and I had Porter on the leash. Near the top I let Porter off to finish the climb, and when I grabbed hold of the final boulder it came loose. This left me counterbalancing an ~80 pound rock, waiting for Becca to pass me. Luckily I could shimmy it back into place so that it didn’t roll down the chute.
We were greeted with incredible panoramic views of Beehive Basin and Lone Peak. The perfect place to enjoy a PB&J sandwich!
The next day Jesse took us up to Lava Lake. Once again, gorgeous, but not enough.
We decided to hike up to the nearest summit. After endless switchbacks and sandy trails (Jesse was cursing his choice of footwear: Chaco sandals) we reached the summit, which was a massive grassy meadow with a little pocket of gnarled forest and huge boulders in the middle. The hike was a bit more than we bargained for, but it was great to catch up with Jesse on the way down while Becca ran down from Lava Lake with Porter. After jumping off a green bridge into some really cold water we went back to the apartment and Jesse cooked up a delicious BLT mac & cheeze complete with eggplant “bacon”. Wow. The next morning it was on to Flathead National Forest! We had to drive the car along the stony bank to reach our campsite by the river which was pretty neat.
The next morning we hiked near Stanton Lake. We decided to do a loop which would end near the lake, and though the trail description said it was tough to follow at times, we felt up to it. The only other people at the trailhead were an older couple…one of them had a revolver strapped to their chest. This made us a little nervous about the bears. Porter on leash and bear spray within reach we headed into grizzly country. We did let Porter off for a stream crossing, but she wasn’t too excited about going through with it.
It might not be Glacier National Park, but it was pretty!
Though we got some phenomenal views into Glacier, the hike became stressful when we lost the trail in some fairly thick woods, which was exhausting to push through. Being a little on edge about bears, our hearts would skip a beat when we come across these grouse-like birds which are very loud when they take flight. This one was pretty curious and let me get up close for a picture.
In the end made we the right choice and headed back the way we came, adding more miles than if we had we done the loop. We also missed out on the lake. Oh well. The great part about a roadtrip is that you can just throw your backpack in the trunk and drive to a new place and a new situation. So that’s what we did…we drove straight across the Idaho panhandle to a rest stop on I-90 outside of Seattle. Though it didn’t end on a great note, we loved Montana. Huge mountains, wide and surly rivers, and that feeling of being in a massive country.