Rain, bad snow, and a cold hot tub didn’t hinder the GiG from having a fun-filled weekend escape at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. Fifteen of us headed out on an early Friday morning for three solid days of hiking and companionship. We arrived in West Glacier at Lake McDonald Lodge by 10:45 and hit the trail at 11, after a trip to the outhouses, for a hike along McDonald Creek and John’s Lake Loop. We decided to ditch the snowshoes for Yaktraks since the snow was packed, very thin and even non-existent under the trees. Our choice turned out perfectly as we never post-holed at all. The day was cloudy and threatened rain early on but turned into a very sunny day. As we hiked along the snow-covered Going to the Sun Road, four deer appeared off and on, seemingly not afraid of us. McDonald Creek charmed us with it riffles and falls over stunning rock slabs; the snow held out on this part of the hike. We ate our lunch just before the bridge on a rocky outcropping along the edge of the creek, enjoying the breathtaking views of Mount Cannon and Edwards. After lunch, we crossed the bridge, climbed to the road and continued onto John’s Lake. This part of the hike quickly turned to a muddy trail, making some of us wish we had stayed on the road. However, it was nice to view the lake with its icy covering. We didn’t see any moose or signs of them either, unfortunately, even though this area is known for the critters. After our five-mile hike, we headed into Apgar to visit the gift shop and get a view of Lake McDonald with the surrounding mountains before we went to Belton Chalet for dinner, where we met up with Shelley from Kalispell. Our dinners were mixed, with most thinking the food much too spicy. One gal had a pile of peppers and not much of a sandwich left after removing them. The soup was spicy; the tofu dish was very hot. The gals who ordered the strip steak said their meal was fantastic; the bread was fabulous and the drinks inexpensive. Then we left to check into the Izaak Walton. We had a few surprises with futons not made up, not enough towels and a missing key for one of the rooms. Then those who tried the hot tub found it much too cold and got our right away, so after a few games of Left, Right, Center, most of us retired early. It was fun to have Marta join us for a round before she left with her husband. Then it was up early the next morning to find no coffee made at 7 as promised. In fact, no one showed up until 7:50. We finally got coffee at 8, and breakfast ran late, causing us not to get on the snowshoe trail until 9:30, a half hour later than expected. The five who wanted to ski got their rentals all set for the afternoon with the help of Gumby; we planned to ski when the snow wouldn’t be so icy after a night of rain. It was still drizzling when we hit the Essex Creek trail, but it quickly turned to sunshine. Ten of us continued onto the Towering Pines and Pileated trail, while four returned to the lodge. We all met up for lunch, at which time it started pouring, so we didn’t head out for our ski and/or second snowshoe at 1:30 as predicted. But an hour later, it once again cleared. The skiers found their gear all put away and had to have another person re-outfit them. But by this time, three decided not to ski after all. However, Cathy got to try cross-country skiing for the first time with Sara, Mary, Kathy and Katie, while seven others snowshoed the Essex Creek Road and Dickey trails. The skiers beat the snowshoers into the lodge and some had an early dinner to save money by eating off the lunch menu. Most enjoyed their meals, while some thought the soup had too much salt. Those who had the flourless chocolate torte said it was amazing. The late dinner crowd had some interesting entertainment when Cathy replaced the cream in the pitchers with Bailey’s Irish Cream. When the waitress went to refill the half-full creamers, Cathy quickly grabbed a pitcher and poured the “cream” into her coffee, while Michele did likewise with the one near her. The waitress didn’t know why everyone was laughing hysterically. That night, Cathy organized “game night” by having us all play shuffle board, pool, Shut the Box, and foosball in teams of two or three. Then she handed out “prizes” pilfered from her and Anita’s overnight bags, such as Scope, sewing kits and trial-sized lotions. Luckily for those wanting libations, the gals had brought plenty of wine as no one manned the bar at the Inn. The next morning, we were pleased that Kate from the Flathead hiking group met us for breakfast and joined us on the morning hike to the river, led by Marta, who filled us in about how the fires had transpired last summer, pointing out the burns. The hike of 3.5 miles led downhill to the Middle Fork of the Flathead, which provided a nice uphill exercise for the day. Then, at noon, we packed up and hit the road for home. The gals opted out of any more hiking for the day, so we didn’t stop at Marias Pass, instead driving back via Choteau in order to catch the Tundra swans and snow geese on Freezeout lake. We did see some swans on the east side of the highway, but not many geese were in Freezeout, which was a bit disappointing. We added two more members to the 100-Miler Club: Anita and Cathy! We arrived back in Great Falls around 5 p.m., two hours ahead of prediction.
Mexican Quinoa Salad 1 cup quinoa 2 cups water 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 limes, juiced 2 tsp. cumin red pepper flakes 1 tsp. salt 1 1 /2 cups halved grape tomatoes 1 15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed 3 green onions, finely chopped 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Directions: 1. Bring quinoa & water to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool. 2. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, 1 tsp. salt, & red pepper flakes together. 3. Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, & green onions together in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Stir in cilantro, season w salt & pepper. Serve immediately or keep chilled in the fridge.
Curried Quinoa Salad 1 cup dry quinoa 2 cups water 1 Tablespoon curry powder 1 tsp. cumin 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes pinch salt
1. Bring above ingredients to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10-15 miutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine: 2 medium carrots, finely shredded 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed 3 thinly sliced green onions 2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (2J's) 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
In separate bowl, mix: 3 T. extra virgin olive oil 1 T. apple cider vinegar 1 tsp lime zest juice of 2 limes
Toss dressing mixture w/ quinoa and vegetable/fruit mixture. Refrigerate until cool.
Valerie's Quinoa Salad (this is one that my daughter-in-law made up) 1 cup quinoa, (mixed colors of quinoa if desired - red/white) 2 cups chicken stock
Directions: 1. Bring quinoa & chicken stock to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed (10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool. 2. Add bell pepper, mix of colored peppers (good way to use up those mini peppers!) 3. Add Corn (fresh or frozen- sauteed ahead of time in a bit of butter and minced garlic) 3. Add cherry tomatoes, halved 4. Add Cilantro- roughly chopped 5. Add feta cheese, crumbled right before serving.