It all started with a hike up Mount Aeneas in the Jewel Basin area. We met Madelon at the turn by Echo Lake and continued on. Somehow, we missed Syd, unfortunately, but we did catch up with her later in our trip.
This hike is gorgeous, although a few struggled with the elevation gain. However, once we reached the saddle with the views, it was all worth it. And getting the last third of a mile up to the summit was even more rewarding with 25 mountain goats greeting us as well as 360-degree views. Everyone made it to the very top even though the saddle is still outstanding. We were on top between 1 and 1:30 pm after a 10:45 a.m. start. I should note that on the way to the top, a mama mountain goat was challenging people on the trail. The gals had to be cautious as they climbed to the top. WE have great pictures with Kuntzie and the goat facing off.
On the way down (we left the top- just after 2 p.m.), we had intended to take a large loop past Black and Picnic Lakes. However, there was too much snow, so we headed down the same way but took a different loop the last half of the trip. On this loop, we did encounter snow but on a low angle. But we still had a little scare when Susan got a charley horse and fell. She ended up being okay with no damage to her repaired ankle, thank goodness.
On this section were tons of glacier lilies and spring beauties coming through the snowmelt. We only saw one other party on this route as well. Hordes were starting to come up the other trail, so it was nice to have the walk to ourselves.
We reached the car around 4:15, said goodbye to Madelon as she headed back to Eureka and got to the Laughing Horse Lodge right on time for our 5 p.m. reservation. Our dinner was wonderful as usual at this “unusual” place. Kate, the chef, sat with us for while and wanted to know which hike we had done and told us a bit about the specials.
Then it was off to Mary’s house for an evening boat ride and then a rousing game of Left, Right, Center and a few dice games that Mary explained to us. Surprisingly, Susan wasn’t the big winner this time.
Since it was going to be in the 90s the next day, we decided to skip a long hike and canoe instead, so we could get a late start on the day.
We rented canoes and paddled the Clearwater river Canoe trail, seeing lily pads, frogs, turtles and a loon family along the way. It was very relaxing. Then we had a delightful 1.5 mile walk back to our cars. The trail had many flowers on it: penstemon, yarrow, bunch berry, hare bells and even some late blooming blue camas.
Then we continued to the Condon Mercantile for lunch and to look around this newly-rebuilt and much-improved after-the-fire store. The Deli had some delish sandwiches, which most of the gals ordered. However, Kuntzie ordered a pizza. She thought she ordered a personal pan size but they brought her a huge pizza, saying they thought she ordered the biggest size.
After this awesome trip, several went back to freshen up at Mary’s cabin while a few walked around town and did a bit of shopping, or should we say, Kuntz did some shopping. It’s always fun trying to predict what she might buy. While we were in town, whom did we run into but Syd! She found us among the shops and came back to Mary’s with Katie while some decided to go to the Chicken Coop for a drink and a try at Shake-a-Day (no winners).
Back at the cabin, the gals had prepared all sorts of awesome appetizers, which we enjoyed on the porch. After eating them, we decided we really didn’t need to go to dinner as we were full. Instead, we took an evening boat ride with captain Mary until the sun set. The evening was so lovely it was hard to go inside.
Then that night we played Catch Phrase. We had fun laughing when certain words stumped all of us.
The next day at breakfast, Kuntzie showed us her new mug, that has a holster and mini flask attached to it, perfect for making her Irish coffee or slipping another libation into her hot drink. Then we tidied up for Mary before heading out for a hike to Hemlock lake in the Mission Mountains. Again, who caught us, this time on the trail? Syd! She came up behind Mary and really gave her a start.
After about three and a half miles of walking through young trees that have sprouted since the 2003 burn, we arrived at the gorgeous Hemlock lake, but again, a few of us were flagging due to the heat. This eight-mile hike is Mary’s favorite in the area. It was so great that she shared it with us, a pretty cirque with views of the both the Swan and Mission Range, which still have much snow on the peaks.
The only bad thing about this hike is the road into it. It is rough with many branches that can scratch your car.
Then it was time to say goodbye after eating a few leftovers and stopping for Ice Cream in Seeley. We arrived home around 6:30 p.m.