We had our first hike with Michele on a fun quick trip up Rogers Pass followed by a visit to the HI-Country Beef Jerky factory and gift store and then to the Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture Garden.
The hike to Rogers pass didn't disappoint on wildflowers on the way up, with dark blue larkspur, glacier lilies, paintbrush, bistort, arnica, phacelia and the rare chocolate lily dotting the hillsides, just to name a few. However, the alpine forget-me-nots, douglasia and pasque flowers were well past their prime. And the top of the pass was very windy, forcing us to take a quick look at the view before we headed back into the trees to have a bite of lunch.
On the way down, one of our in-house scientists, Josy, showed us some moss/bryophyte that turned almost instantly green when she spat some water onto i, bringing it out of dormancy. Josy also told us that the leaves, flowers and roots of a plant often have different effects on people. For example, the Valerian root can be used as a sedative, but she explained eating the flower or leaves might not have the same effect.
Once we got down, we headed to the Hi-Country Beef Jerky Country Store and factory. We enjoyed looking around at the various Montana gifts: huckleberry everything, 406 t-shirts and sampling pemican and other dried beef products.
Then we toured the sculpture garden after taking a quick trip off the road a quarter mile by Leepers to see Kuntzie's cabin. She is going to sell it as both she and her sister aren't interested in maintaining it. It is right on the creek and has huge ponderosa pines surrounding it, making it very peaceful and beautiful.
Then we said goodbye to our Canadian friends as they were headed over Flesher pass and on to Helena for the night before they eventual destination in Idaho for the Spinderella bikeride. But we had another adventure or two involving animals. First, a cow elk sauntered into the road right in front of us, making Katie brake rather quickly. Then instead of running away, she stood, looking at us and sniffed the air before wandering back to the same side of the road from which she came. It brought back bad memories for poor Maria who had totaled her new car hitting a deer on another GiG trip. She said an elk would have really totaled the Katie's car.
Then five minutes down the road, Susan spied a young spike bull moose in the marshy area, right off the road. Katie turned around so we could all get a good look. He was magnificent.
Finally, we headed home but not before we stopped at the Mennonite/Amish store/cafe in Vaughn to get a few goodies.