Day of Golden Larch Ablaze; Glistening Snow, Misty Valleys
A fun overnight at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex set the stage for a fantastic fall climb of Scalplock mountain in the south part of Glacier Park.
We left Great Falls at just after 4 p.m. Friday after a day of school for most, and arrived in Essex in time for a 7 p.m. dinner at the Inn. After meals of coconut shrimp, chicken marsala and ratatouille, we checked in and then played a few games in the downstairs lounge: foosball, pool and shuffleboard, an early night for most to get prepared for the long climb tomorrow.
Then we were up for coffee at 7 a.m., quick breakfast and check out, which saw us on trail by 8:30 a.m. on a foggy morning.
Eight of us hiked up the 18 switchbacks, crossing Ole Creek on a hanging bridge, walking through the clouds with sunbeams shining upon us, trudging through snow at the very top to arrive at the lookout tower bathed in sun at 12:30, lunch time.
The golden larches, turning orange and dropping their needles on our path, colored the day as did the bright blue skies, which accented the snow-capped mountains as they poked from the clouds. The climb of 3,100 feet was a challenge for some of us who hadn't done much hiking since Sperry, two months ago.
Sitting on the lookout tower ledge, we had a lovely lunch overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead and the Nyack Creek valleys, filled with fog and surrounded by towering peaks, glittering with fresh snow. Some of us wished to come back to see the valleys without the fog and clouds, to see the rivers and the greenery below. But we will have to wait for another time. The low-lying clouds did make it look like we were gazing out of an airplane window, so high above the billows.
The trip down Scalplock took us just under three hours and we were on the road home by 4:30 p.m., in time so that the drivers wouldn't have to face dark on two-land roads.
After a dinner at the Rex in Conrad, we returned home by 8:30 p.m.
Who went: Kuntz, Kathy M., Bonnie, Sara, Susan, Sue, Anita and Katie