Everyone has been patient with my non-foodie posts in the past. This falls under outdoors and hiking. Joe and I have been anxious to enjoy some backpacking. This is just a brief post on our hike and some pretty pictures. You can find a different type of post about the backpacking on my Conscious Observations, Mindfulness blog.
Just after we moved to Missoula, three (3) years ago, I was on one of those late night flights back to Missoula from Denver that I used to take all the time for work and I was chatting with the guy next to me. I asked him what his favorite mountain range around Missoula was and he said the Pintlers. He liked that even though they were small, they were beautiful and had few people. That conversation stuck with me and I bought a book about hikes in the Anaconda Pintler mountains soon after. Turns out he was right on all accounts!
This past weekend we did just a short hike, 18 miles in 3 days.
Day 1: Middle Fork Portal to Upper Phyllis Lake (5.6 miles)
The portal was only a 2 hour drive from Missoula. Love it! The best thing is on the way back no matter which route we take we pass multiple breweries. But I digress, this was a beautiful hike. It was a gentle, continuous climb as we gained in elevation. Most of the trail was through a beautiful forest with views every now and then of meadows and a rock walls and peaks. At the end there is a more strenuous climb up to a view of the Falls Fork watershed and Lower Phyllis Lake. We happily ended up at Upper Phyllis Lake with plenty of time for a relaxing evening. Joe fished, I read and journaled. For dinner I'd dehydrated a great venison stew with mushrooms, kale and sweet potato. It re-hydrated really well and we enjoyed it!
Upper Phyllis Lake
This lake is set down in a bowl and so the sun set early the first night and rose late in the morning, This meant I got up and enjoyed a lovely yoga and meditation practice next to the lake and then Joe got up, made coffee, and we hiked up to meet the sun.
The morning view. Not a bad way to enjoy our coffee.
Climbing to the pass.
Here got to see up close some Tamarak trees changing colors. These trees go by various names, and look like an evergreen tree, but they are actually a deciduous conifer and they lose their needles every fall!
Tamarak Trees - they actually have many names. Some call them Larch.
After the pass we hiked down to Johnson lake where we spent a lazy 2 hours eating lunch, reading and fly fishing.
Joe fly fishing.
Then we hiked onto Edith Lake, our destination for that evening. On the way we ran into 2 groups of people who said there was a black bear at Edith Lake, but he didn't seem to interested in people, so we continued - with a little trepidation on my part.
We picked a campsite and followed all our bear protocol. We ate and cleaned up away from camp, down on the beach and prepared to hang all of our food. We didn't go anywhere without bear spray. Sure enough, the bear came around, but only once. He and I scared each other a bit, but he was just on a path looking for food and displayed all the signs of a good black bear. He did not associate us with food. No ants or berries here! As we startled each other, he was about 20 feet from me. I backed up a bit and found my bear spray and said bear loudly but calmly. Joe was walking up to the camp and said "Bear?" "Yes, Bear!" I said pointing. We continued to speak loudly and calmly and he circled wide around us. After the fact, I will say he was a beautiful black bear. Very pretty thick coat and soft brown nose - but I do not need to have one that close again. No pictures as that was not my focus. He would look our way like saying, "Yes, I know you are there. I don't know why you are speaking so loudly?" and then he'd continue poking at logs and looking for food. He did not return at all that evening and we didn't see him again before we left the next day.
Joe cooking dinner.
Christine pumping water.
Day 3: Edith Lake Out (5 miles)
Another lovely morning of yoga and meditating with the squirrels. I admit to having conversations with the squirrels. They were so funny! They would climb all the way up these super tall trees and throw the pine cones down from the top, chattering the whole time. I was laughing at them and said, just don't hit me on the head with one of those and the next one came down right next to me. I laughed out loud! We took our time packing up and headed out for a gorgeous 5 mile hike out, mostly downhill.
We passed two waterfalls, stopping for lunch at the second one.
On the way home we came over Skalkaho pass, which has another wonderful waterfall and curves with steep edges that scare me! And in case you think we forgot, we treated ourself to a stop at Bitterroot Brewery in Hamilton, MT, as Joe wanted one of their Bitterrroot IPA's. Life doesn't get much better than those three days.