We Made it to Morrell Falls to See Frozen Water Formations
Mary did it! She pulled it off! With help of her husband Mark who got the sleds up and running and guided us to the trail, she arranged everything perfectly--even the weather cooperated-- for us to finally get to Morrell Falls to see the aqua crystals formed over this impressive cascade.
It all started on Friday with four gals heading from Great Falls and one from Helena to meet Mary at her cabin in Seeley Lake around 11:30 a.m. After eating lunch, Mary led us on a wonderful three-mile hike by the Ranger station, which wanders the north shore of Seeley. The lake was frozen with the red willows rising from the icy shores. After our hike, we headed to the cabin for snacks and drinks while Anita and Sue cooked a wonderful taco dinner with all of the trimmings. Everyone was too tired for games, so we went to bed early in anticipation of our big hike the next day.
The next morning it was up early for our main event: Morrell Falls. We awoke to a very frosty two degrees, so we dressed in extra layers. Luckily, the predictions said the weather would warm to 20 degrees. Katie and Jaye cooked a pancake breakfast with embedded eggs and berry compote. Mark, Mary’s husband, arrived from Missoula to start the snowmobiles and guide us to the road leading to the trailhead. Gail, Jaye and Mary were our fearless drivers. Susan was going to be a driver, but she broke her ankle and couldn’t attend; luckily, Gail was game and said she would give it a go. We were hoping Syd from Condon could join us, but she wasn’t able to either.
The ride took about 45 minutes and included crossing the highway. The drivers discovered that the sleds did not turn on pavement so were a bit worried about making all of the way across before traffic came. They had to take a diagonal path to make it. The ride to the trailhead was splendid with the sun coming out and shining on the Swan range, particularly highlighting Pyramid Peak.
When we arrived at the trailhead, a bit cold from the ride, we encountered two others also hoping to snowshoe to the falls. However, they rented snowmobiles and didn’t have time to complete the hike before the sleds were due back. While we were gearing up, Jaye’s pole broke; the day before, one of her snowshoe straps had split, but a little duct tape can fix most anything. Then, after about a half hour of slogging around looking for the trailhead, we finally found the right path and got on trial.
It took us about two and a half hours to reach the falls, and boy, were they worth it: cascades of aqua ice, gleaming in the sun with the water breaking through here and there. The snow in the Morrell Creek formed ice mounds reflecting in the clear water. Since it took us a bit longer than expected to reach the falls, we only stopped for about 15-20 minutes to eat a quick lunch and head back out.
On the way back, we really marveled at the footbridge as we saw that snowmobiles had gone over it, despite its narrow width and large holes in the sides of the snow covering. It seemed a bit iffy to cross on foot, let alone on a sled.
We also saw some strange tracks in the snow that looked like a snowmobile but without the runners. We wondered what had made the track. Speaking of tracks, we saw many from small critters and large alike (elk, deer, squirrels, rabbits, possibly moose).
We arrived back at the sleds right at 3 p.m., the appointed meeting time with Mary’s husband who came back to help us start the two sleds that had pull-cord starters. We were very grateful that he did as we may not have had the arm-strength to get them going.
It was around 4 p.m. when we pulled back into Mary’s driveway, tired and hungry, so we got out the snacks and leftovers and some wine to hold us over until our big dinner at the Double Arrow. We messaged Syd, who said she would be able to come to dinner, a nice surprise that we would be able to catch up with her after all. After a nice meal, we headed back home and did play some games, all of them dice games, courtesy of our planner extraordinaire Mary! We were all grateful Susan didn’t make it as some others had a chance to take home some quarters this time: Sue, Katie and Mary all won a round.
The next day, we had a nice breakfast bake, cooked by Gail, along with pineapple with leftover berries and donut holes. Then it was clean up and packing time. Since we all had so much gear and overnight items plus one more person for the ride back, Mary volunteered to take some of our “stuff” in her car. That left us to pile just our snowshoeing equipment and backpacks into Sue’s. Our day would include a stop in Lincoln to tour Sculpture in the Wild, a sculpture garden created by internationally known artists and a three-mile hike along Flesher Pass.
In Lincoln we met the three gals coming from Great Falls at 11 a.m. at the gas station, only to find that the gas pumps were all out of order due to a computer malfunction, and Sue needed gas. We assured her she could get to Simms, since there were pumps there.
We really enjoyed the sculptures (Read more about them here), followed by lunch at Lambkins (we first tried Three Maries, but despite a bit “open” sign on it and hours listed as 10:30-3:30, the place was closed). The sweet-potato tater tots were delish! Gail filled us in on the origin of the place along with the man who started it all. Then off to Flesher for what seemed like a spring day, with temps in the 40s and granular April-like snow.
We arrived home around 5 p.m., tired but happy for a fun weekend with the gals. Mary really did it!
Who went: (stayed over) Mary, Sue, Anita, Jaye, Gail, Katie; (Flesher pass/Sculpture) Bonnie, Brenda, June
Official site of Sculpture in the Wild
Mary's Coconut Cake Recipe
While you are mixing the cake, toast (325') the remaining ½ c or so of coconut...be careful, it will burn very easily. Check every 3-5 min and move around in pan. This is important; otherwise you will be making another trip to the market.
Grease two 9" cake pans; line bottom with parchment paper and grease again. Dust with flour. Bake according to box directions, checking to make sure you don't over bake; set
time for at least 10 min less. Cake should begin to pull away from edges.
Cool in pans 10-15 min; then turn out and let cool completely. I cover at this point with a light cloth, to keep moist.
Drizzle: 1/2 c culinary coconut milk and 2 Tbl. powdered sugar; mix and set aside.
of crumb, go slow, distribute evenly. I try to end up with a top layer .... on top!
Press remaining toasted coconut into icing and pat it to make it stay. It helps to set it on a cookie sheet during this process; it's messy. Refrigerate cake.