Goats, Sheep, Grouse, Golden Eye--Oh My, the Animals Are Out!
Well, we decided all seven of us would stick together and stick to our original plans, but two of us took out our bear spray and removed the safety, just in case. Needless to say, we did not see the grizzly again.
Our day started at 6:30, when we left the district offices. We arrived at Many Glacier at 9:30 a.m. and hit the trail five minutes later. The trip around Swift Current lake was gorgeous, with not much wind, so the reflections in the water were spectacular. Signs of moose were everywhere: fresh hoof prints and droppings, so we kept a good watch.
When we arrived at Lake Josephine, we were treated to dozens of goats and sheep along the west flank of Grinnell Point. We watched them for a few minutes before moving on to the end of the lake, where we ran into the German gals that we had met at the beginning of the trail and lent a can of bear spray. They told us the tale of the grizzly, which made us think a moment before deciding to continue. At the end of the lake, we came across much wolf scat dotting the trail as well as a spruce grouse, which flew and then posed for us in a tree.
We had lunch at the boat dock at the Oastler shelter before heading up the trail toward Grinnell Lake. The German gals had intended to try the Glacier Overlook, but we told them-- and they soon found out-- that the angle of the snow was too steep to attempt so they headed to Grinnell lake along with us. When we came to Cataract Creek crossing, however, we decided instead to go to Hidden Falls and call it a day as the clouds were moving in and the snow on the far side of the creek at a steep angle. The German gals did go all the way to the lake, crossing the creek with bare feet and walking in the snow with no poles to keep them from slipping. We all wished for younger days as we watched how agile they were. The trail from the shelter to the lake was about half snow covered, giving our legs a workout.
On the return trip, we traveled a loop, opting for the east side of Lake Josephine, resulting in a loop hike around the lake. On this side of the lake, we saw even more moose sign and tracks and faced many fallen trees. We got good at going under, over and around fallen logs, giving our legs a further workout. On the way, we heard loud noises, which we recognized as rams butting heads, but the trees hid our view of across the lake.
We arrived back at the car around 3:30 p.m., only to meet back up with the gals from Germany, who returned our bear spray. They reported being attacked by two spruce grouse, which prevented them from traveling the east side of the lake the way we did. However, retracing their steps produced another sight for them: a cow moose in the lake! In addition, they had seen the rams clashing their horns together on the side of the lake. These two gals were so grateful that we had lent them bear spray. Otherwise, they s aid theywould not have ventured forth and seen everything that they did: sheep, grizzly, moose, goats, various birds. After the hike, they were headed to Canada to find a camping spot.
After loading our gear, we headed back via St. Mary for the scenic route--what a treat (and when we passed the Many Glacier Hotel, sheep were all over the road, licking our car; we had to drive slowly to push them out of the way after shooting tons of photos). On the way home, we did hit a bit of rain and even a few snowflakes. We ate at Buffalo Joe's in Dupuyer and shopped at the Cache, purchasing local honey, some books and grandbaby items. The construction wasn't too bad going into Bynum, but the clouds obscured our views of the Rocky Mountain Front.
We arrived back in Great Falls at 7:30. What a gorgeous day.
Tick count: one so far
Who went: Gail, Mary N, Susan, Toni and Katie