Huckleberry Lookout will have to wait for another year for the GiG as the 95+ degree days would not have been wise for 3400 feet of gain over 12 miles, so we opted for shorter, but still gorgeous hikes in the West Glacier area. We really enjoyed Suzie's cabin on Lake Five too.
Our first hike was on the way into West Glacier: Garry Lookout, a usually easy 3.6 mile hike with less than 500 feet of gain to a lovely overlook into Glacier Park, dominated by St. Nick mountain. However, the heat made it seem twice as long, but the flowers and views were worth it. The Shasta daisies, St. John's wort and the red paintbrush were particularly gorgeous.
Then we went into West Glacier to stop at a gift shop. What a mess--the traffic was so bad we had a hard time making a left turn into the parking lot. Then the gift shop was so crowded with kids running all over, most of us waited in the parking lot. And again, we had a hard time getting back out onto the highway. We were glad to leave.
It was just before 6 pm when we pulled into Suzie's cabin along Lake Five. It was so peaceful, except her neighbors had many relative over so the parking spots were all taken. We still managed to squeeze our vehicles in.
The evening was so peaceful. Suzie had prepared a dinner of tostadas, yum! That was followed by Gail's cupcakes in honor of Susan W getting her 1,000 miles of hiking accomplished. She received a plaque that said, "If life gives you mountains, get on your boots and start hiking."
We were all tired so we went to bed early, without playing any games, as we planned to get up early to beat the heat the next morning.
We did get up early, but I don't think we could have gotten up early enough on a 100-degree day. Gail and Jo Ann headed to Howe Lake, a lovely three-mile hike in open meadows and burned trees with views into the Livingston range as well as Glacier Park. The others, Katie, Nora, Susan and Suzie plus George the dog went into the Jewel Basin area on the Hungry Horse Dam side to climb Doris ridge and mountain. These destinations were particularly meaningful since our hiking sister Doris was moving to Texas as we were hiking. We are so sorry to lose her but happy she will be near family.
The heat again got to us, but luckily, there were several stream crossings as well as a lake so we could dip our neck coolers and hankies into the cool water. George enjoyed the cool water too.
The whole way, the flowers wowed us. We were especially taken with all of the sego or mariposa lilies and the bright red paintbrush. The variety of flowers from beargrass to larkspur also gave us some eye candy. Speaking of eye candy, the views of the Flathead valley (Flathead Lake, Kaslispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Whitefish Lake and the Whitefish ski hill) contrasted with the views into Glacier Park and the Great Bear wilderness.
On this hike, we only came across one other party (but three cars full) and one dog. George had to be called back a few times as he wanted to get a bit too friendly with the other pooch, a labradoodle. George is an Old English Sheepdog.
Gail and Jo Ann, hiked to Howe Lake in the morning, through burned out trees, new forest floor growth and wildflowers--a stark contrast of colors. It was a hot day with temperature in the mid-80s in the morning and a high of 93 degrees. Vibrant red Indian Paintbrush grew in large patches along the trail. There were also many White Spirea, a bit past prime. The Beargrass had gone to seed. A log in the shade at the lake provided seating where they ate lunch and enjoyed reflections of clouds and the mountains in the water.
The Howe Lake area burned in the Howe Ridge Fire of August 11-November 3, 2018, which was ignited by a lightning strike. Several private homes and historic buildings were destroyed by the fire which burned 14,522 acres and resulted in evacuation of much of the West Glacier area including Lake McDonald Lodge and GNP campgrounds.
After the hike, they enjoyed an ice cream in West Glacier and then relaxed at Suzie Taleff’s cabin on Lake Five while waiting for Katie, Suzie, Nora, and Susan W to return from their hike to Doris Ridge.
Then is was back to Suzie's cabin for an early supper since Katie and Susan had to go back to Great Falls a day early. Nora had made a mushroom and artichoke lasagne while Jo Ann made a salad and Susan brought cheesy buns. Suzie had made lemonade cookies that were delicious too. Then the gals presented Suzie with a "thank you" book and card: Dream Chasers of the West, a book about some of the first settlers of the East Glacier area.
Luckily, the next day wasn't supposed to be as hot. The plan for Gail and Jo Ann was to hike to the old Belton Bridge, the original entrance to the west side of Glacier. It is now a foot bridge. Nora and Suzie would do the longer Skiumah.
Wednesday morning, Suzie made delicious oatmeal pancakes and fruit for Gail, Nora and Jo Ann. After breakfast, Gail and Jo Ann packed up and then hiked to the historic Belton Bridge. Two more hikes checked off Jake’s 734 list. After the hike, they decided to drive the Going to the Sun Highway, since they were so close.
They made no stops since Logan Pass parking lot was full and most pullouts were full. The traffic wasn't too bad and no crazy drivers except for an unmarked Park official car stopping in the road, with no flashing lights, to talk to cyclists and one driver parked in an unauthorized spot on the side of the road. Before we read his license plate, we thought the Park official was a crazy tourist driver.
The day began cloudy but the sun came out and the wind began to blow, but the views were spectacular. They stopped and braved the wind for a photo at Wild Goose Island. For lunch they had a delicious burger, salad, and fries at the Snowgoose Grill in St Mary. and arrived in Great Falls early afternoon.