Packed Three Days with Two Hikes; Susan earns her 500-Mile Mark
Photo by Madelon
Mary N did it again: provided us with a fabulous vacation at her cabin in Seeley that gave us a great home-away-from-home feel while serving as a take-off point for adventure.
We left Great Falls on a cloudy, thurnderstorm-threatening Wednesday at 6 a.m. and arrived in Seeley around 9 a.m. after many mishaps that included a broken bottle of wine, difficulty locking and getting the keys out of the car topper, and Sue M getting a flat tire on her way to meet us.
Despite the rainy weather, we did get in a hike, but not the Hemlock Lake that Mary had in mind, due to mud and much uphill that might have sent us sliding. Instead, we opted for the shorter and flatter Morrell Falls. We were able to throw in upper Morrell, even though it was a steep climb, and enjoyed looking down on the falls from above. This hike earned Susan her 500-miles with the GiG! She was the first person to do so and will get a gorgeous framed King Kuka print of Indian paintbrush flowers with mountains in the background.
We returned to Seeley in time to fit in some shopping. Kuntz bought a pink cowboy hat and some Polish pottery for her mother, Katie some jewelry for her daughters and daughter-in-law and the others shirts and souvenirs. Then we headed to purchase Mega Millions lotto tickets as the pot was up to 49 million. Too bad we didn't win. We also tried our hand at shake-a-day at the Chicken Coop. Katie and Susan won free drinks but we left the big money on the table.
Then we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Double Arrow Lodge. We had hoped for a six-o-clock seating, but we couldn't get in until 7:30 p.m., which actually worked out better since Sue, who came up on her own, had to get a flat tire fixed on her way (in Vaughn) and didn't arrive until 7:45. The late time meant she was able to join us for dinner.
It's hard to believe, but by the time we arrived back at Mary's cabin, we were all too tired to play games, given our 5:30 a.m. wake-up call the next morning, so some enjoyed the deck for a few minutes but then climbed into bed.
The next day, it was up early and out the door at 6:30 a.m. to head to Jewel Basin to hike to Crater Lake via Birch Lake. On the way, we picked up Madelon from Eureka, who met us at the school district building at the Echo Lake turn, so nine of us arrived at Camp Misery around 9 a.m. We discovered that the last mile and half of road to the trailheads was closed, so we had an extra bit of uphill hiking.
The first part of the hike is boring and switchbacked, but as soon as you leave the old road, the trail is fabulous, providing endless views of the Flathead valley and all of the surrounding towns and lakes, including Flathead lake, the largest by surface area lake west of the Mississippi in the contiguous United States (Tahoe is larger by volume).
Three miles into the hike, we arrived at Birch Lake (we viewed emerald-green Martha lake on the way, but it is a bushwack to get to). At Birch, we rested, had a snack, and took a potty break at the "outhouse" with a view, as there is no "house" to it, just a seat in the outdoors.
Then eight of us continued on to Crater, leaving Gail to enjoy the peacefulness of the little gem in the Jewel.
This next section of the hike hadn't been traveled much as the snow was still clinging to the trail in places, and much fall-down from the winter avalanches gave us an obstacle course. But the early spring flowers were in abundance, especially the glacier lilies--fields and fields of them.
On the trail, we came across a group of young backpackers who had stayed at the lake and Joan, from the Glacier Gals Kayakers group. She was as shocked as we were to just happen upon each other. But at Crater Lake itself, we didn't see a soul; we had it to ourselves and enjoyed a very short lunch as Katie allowed only 20 minutes so we could make our dinner reservations.
On the hike back out, we enjoyed even better views of the valley, and several of the flowers, such as pink spiraea, had blossomed during the day. We picked up Gail at Birch lake and hiked out, getting out a half hour earlier than expected.
We said our goodbyes to Madelon, who drove out first for her trip home to Eureka, while we stopped by the Laughing Horse Lodge in Swan Lake for a gourmet dinner. No one except Katie had been there before, so the new experience and the food were both treats. The food turned out well, despite the seafood special not being cooked to begin with. But the fresh huckleberry/peach pie that Chef Kathryn (Kate) comped for everyone who ordered the special more than made up for it. The beet salad with chevre several commented that it was the best they had ever had, and the seafood gumbo soup without gumbo was very tasty too.
Then it was on to shake-a-day again and a game night of Catch Phrase since we could sleep in the next morning. Still, most didn't stay up too late except rumors have it that Kuntz and Anita chatted into the wee hours.
The next day, Mary fixed a fabulous meal, despite telling everyone she doesn't cook much. Her baked egg and cheese dish and sticky buns were to die for, served with berries and melon. Yum! Then it was off for a boat ride with Captain Mary, the lady willing to share her gifts and talents and ideas with us.
Sue M wanted to get home early to support her friend Sue O, and fellow GiG member, who had just lost her husband. Katie went back with her to keep her company and also rest a while before a big hike she and her husband were going on the next day.
The rest took a long ride to the other end of the lake to look for the eagle's nest which was hard to spot but it was unoccupied. We were hoping to witness an eaglet or parent but they weren't home. On our way back to the cabin we saw a sit-down hydrofoil skier that was fun to watch. He was preforming tricks such as flips that looked like you needed skills to complete. Everyone had a good time on the boat and then sat on the deck until we left Seeley. The ride home put the gals back in Great Falls around 6 p.m.
A big thank you and shout out to Mary for her hospitality! She had so much laundry and cleaning to do and prep work on breakfast and snacks. She made it all look so easy, but we know better. We so appreciate it! What an awesome time with good friends.
Who went: Sue M, Susan, Gail, Anita, Kuntz, Bonnie, Mary, Sue M, Katie and Madelon joined us for one day
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Cheese egg casserole Nine slices of bread, crest removed and cubed 1/4 pound melted margarine 3/4 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese Three eggs separated 2 cups milk 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Remove crusts from Bread and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Soak Bread in melted margarine. Add cheese and mix. Add milk. Beat egg whites to Peak and fold in gently. Place in buttered 9 x 9" pan. Cover with foil and chill overnight or 12 hours. Bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Let set five minutes before cutting to serve Serves 6 to 8
Double for a 9 x 13 pan and cook 55 to 60 minutes or more. Let it set for five minutes before cutting to serve. This will serve about 12 or more
Chicken spread 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise Two cans of canned chicken or one large can (can use real chicken also) One fourth of a cup of chopped walnuts 2 ounces of pimento, sliced and drained 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
Mix all together serve with crackers or plain Tostitos Best if it sits a little while in the refrigerator
Overnight butterscotch sticky buns Service 18 to 20
18 to 20 frozen roll balls 4 tablespoons dry butterscotch pudding mix, not instant 1/2 cup melted butter 2 tablespoons cinnamon 1/2 cup brown sugar Chopped nuts if desired. I did not use nuts
Place frozen dough in a buttered Bundt pan. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons dry butterscotch pudding mix. Mix melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and nuts and pour butter mixture over rolls. Cover with foil and let sit overnight. Do not refrigerate. In the morning, bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and invert to a plate or at 13 x 9 pan