GiG, WoW Enjoy Izaak Walton Together with Snowshoeing, Games, Soaking while Facing Funny Snow Conditions, Mouse, Spiders
The GiG and WoW (Women of Wonder from the Waterton area) headed out on Thursday from their respective homes to meet at Marias Pass for snowshoeing on the Pike Creek Trail. The GiG left at 6:45 and arrived right at 9:30 but behind the Canadians. As the GiG left Browning, we received and call from an upset Mary N who had overslept her alarm and wouldn't be able to come until later in the day as she was driving from Missoula.
The trail was pretty good, with not too many postholes, until we arrived at the base of Flattop Mountain. We enjoyed breaking into the burn area, the dead trunks pretty against the snow and the views of Summit and Little Dog Mountains coming into view. All was going well until Anita fell into a tree well up to her waist. Luckily, Paula was able to dig her out quickly as one snowshoe had caught under a buried branch. After a few more sunk, we decided the snow conditions weren't good to continue, so we turned around about a mile and a half into the hike. It was still a fun trail with pretty views.
Since we cut the hike short by two miles, we arrived two hours early into the Snow Slip for lunch; and since the weather looked like it would turn rainy the rest of our days, we decided it would be best to make this a long day and hike to Garry Lookout after lunch. No sense climbing the mountain if you can see anything, we figured, so we might as well go for it on a clear day. This turned out to be a good decision--the views were fantastic.
The only bad thing was that the Garry Lookout snowshoe was the one Mary really wanted to do, so with no cell service, all we could do is swing into the Izaak Walton on our way and hope she had arrived. She had--she was in the parking lot. We loaded her up into Katie's car and headed down to mile marker 168, hoping the pull out was plowed. It was.
We got on trail at 3 p.m. but didn't get done until 7 p.m., yet it was still light. The snow was uneven, with some sinking, which took us a bit longer. We even faced some bare spots. At the top, we didn't find an igloo as in years past. We surmised that the weather had been too cold this year; however, the waitress at the lodge later told us there just wasn't enough snow to build one. The cold wouldn't have stopped them from building it, she said.
Then it was back to the lodge to check in, the Canadians at the main lodge and the GiG at the Withrow house, a block away. Some had a soak in the hot tub, showers for others. Beth and Amber arrived around 8:30 p.m. and joined us for a Get to Know You activity with the Canadians at the Withrow house. Most everyone enjoyed the game, saying they not only learned about the Canadians but also about the gals in our own group.
On a side note: The Withrow house had a mouse; it skittered around several rooms, including the bedrooms where Katie and Anita were. We tried to shoo it outside, but instead it went behind the stove. We informed the front desk person, who sent over a maintenance man with two traps. Apparently, the workers had been trying to catch the mouse for some time--nice they told us. We also faced many, many spiders. Anita, being an arachnophobe, wanted them all killed, but they just kept hatching. We must have killed over 100, each night more coming out.
The next day, we left the lodge at 9:30 a.m. for snowshoeing on the Izaak Walton groomed trails. We took the Essex Creek Trail, connected to the Towering Pines and ended on Pileated. Instead of snowshoes, most used yaktrax, with minimal sinking. Then after lunch, we met back up at 2 p.m. for a hike along the Ole Creek trail over the hanging bridge that spans Ole Creek--which gave the newbies a thrill--stopping for side trips along the horse fords to see the convergence of Ole Creek and Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Gorgeous.
Back at the lodge, we had a lovely, albeit pricey, dinner at the lodge (the Huckleberry Bread Pudding was amazing) and then finished with a game of Left, Right, Center in the downstairs lounge for some while others soaked. Katie asked about the mouse at the front desk. They said it was caught by the foot and they took care of it. They thanked us for showing them where the mouse had gone under the stove.
The next day, we said goodbye to the Canadians (it was sprinkling, so they didn't want to snowshoe before they left, and instead went grocery shopping in Browning), while GiG headed to West Glacier for hiking the Fish Creek Bike trail into the campground and possibly Rocky Point. The snow was a bit uneven again, but we were able to use yaktrax instead of snowshoes with minimal sinking.When we arrived at the campground, we were greeted to nice views, wind and no other people, a first for some of us in West Glacier. We ate a quick lunch at the picnic area in the cold wind and took the campground street back to the Camas road and followed it to our cars. Along the way, Susan tried to right a sign that had turned upside down.
Then we drove to Apgar, shopped and took photos across Lake McDonald, so pretty surrounded with snow-capped mountains. Then it was on to the Snowslip for a late lunch/early dinner so we could then just stay and relax at the lodge or the Withrow house, play Catch Phrase/Dominoes and not drive again. Amber and Beth watched basketball games, but Amber joined in the games. A few took a one-mile walk around the town of Essex, marveling at the names on the cabins, the very fancy and the very rustic.
The next morning, it was raining and had been all night, By the time we went to breakfast at 9 a.m. the rain had turned to snow. it looked like winter again.
Our drive home wasn't too bad (we left at 11) --just a few slushy patches necessitating slower speeds over Marias Pass. As soon as we got to the east side of the mountains, the weather started clearing. By the time we hit Browning, we had clear skies with clouds in the distance.
On the way home, we stopped in Browning, Bynum (we hoped the shops would be open, but they weren't) and Choteau. Unfortunately, we didn't see the migration of snowgeese, even though we drove by Freezeout Lake. Two swans were in a pond, but that was it.
We arrived back in GF by 2 p.m.
Who went: Susan, Mary Irene, Mary N, Anita, Amber, Beth, Jeanne, Sara, Katie (Canadians: Laura, Kathy, Carol, LaVern, Joan, Sharon, Paula, Dina