Technically, it’s Day 12. I’m sitting in SEA-TAC, waiting for my flight. It will be a long day of planes, trains, and automobiles, and I’m very much looking forward to picking up my doggy and sleeping in my own bed tonight (assuming the house hasn’t blown away while I’ve been gone).
Thursday we spent kind of a quiet day, in part because I wasn’t feeling too well. We did laundry and played a couple of games of cribbage. Dad won both (unusual), while I narrowly avoided getting skunked each time (also unusual). It was sort of a dreary day, compared to the rest of the trip’s weather.
In the afternoon, we went for a boat ride on Lake McDonald. It was cool and cloudy — not the prettiest boat weather. But we were rewarded with the sight of a bald eagle and a young black bear eating their respective lunches along shore. The eagle was ripping something apart on a bare tree limb. The bear was making its way along a berry bush buffet on its hind legs. On our drive back to the motel, we realized just how close the bear was to a picnic area. Hmmm…
There’s still a lot of evidence of wildfire damage from a big 2003 fire — lots of dead trees, lots of places where the forest hasn’t filled in yet. But there are signs of new growth.
We started on a scenic drive up the Camas Road, but motion sickness (mine) turned us back. Fortunately, I got past that, and we drove into Columbia Falls to dinner. Once again we got lucky with our choice of dining establishments, eating at Los Caporales, another Mexican restaurant with delicious food in huge portions. Dad’s special combination covered a platter 15″ in diameter. (He drank a Dos Equis. Boring.) After dinner, we strolled up the hill our motel was on as the sun was setting.
And after that, since it was clear at last, it was time to do some star-watching. Where to go? Why, back to the Camas Road, of course! We found an isolated pull-out and got out to stare at the sky. It was absolutely breath-taking. Thousands of thousands of suns, burning out there in the darkness, millions of miles away — some big and bright (the ones I might even see at home), some no more than grains of brilliant dust. Along the highest part of the dome was smeared the Milky Way. We recognized the Big Dipper, but none of us knew any other constellation. I saw a couple of satellites in orbit, and at one point I even thought I saw a shooting star from the corner of my eye.
Friday morning dawned clear and cold — in the mid-30s! We bundled up and headed back to the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We wanted to hike a bit in some of the areas we’d driven by in the Red Bus tour as well as visit some new spots. Our first stop was a brief hike on the Trail of the Cedars.
Next, we wound our way up to Logan Pass, where we took a 3 mile hike on the Hidden Lake Trail. What with the steep, often uneven trail, our leisurely pace, and the frequent stops for photographs, it took us almost 3 hours round trip. But the trip was well worth it, as you’ll see.
So, about the goats. We saw some mountain goats while on the Red Bus tour, mostly with our binoculars. So it was quite delightful to run into a goat family while on the Hidden Lake Trail, up close and personal! (But not too close. Of course.) While we were admiring the first goat family (pictured above), we could see another adult goat up on a promontory.
We hiked a bit further, and the adult came down from the promontory. Two kids emerged from the rocks, but they seemed at a loss as to how to follow. Finally, one gingerly made its way down the cliff, but the other stayed up there, bleating piteously, “Maa, maa, maa!” Mom (?) paid no attention and kept walking. Finally, the little one scrambled down, still bleating. So pathetic! So cute!
Now, because there can never be too many pictures of goats, here are more pictures of the goat families:
We spotted another marmot on our way back, too, sunning itself on a rock:
Having worked up quite an appetite, we headed down from the pass to St. Mary, where a fellow park visitor recommended the Park Cafe (“Pie for strength!”). All three of us were intrigued by the “Gypsy Burrito,” a curry of sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, pineapple, cashews, and… some other stuff, served in tortillas.
It was mighty tasty! And, of course, we had to try the pie. I had raspberry-cherry, Mom and Dad had “razzleberry.” Yum!
Our final stop for the day was Running Eagle Falls, where the Blackfoot warrior woman of the same name went on her vision quest (unusual for women, at least in her time). You can see how the water emerges from under a rock ledge. I’m not sure if it’s fed by an underground stream or what, but it’s really cool!
Last night we packed up and went to bed early, since my flight out of Kalispell was at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. Mom and Dad dropped me off at the airport this morning, and today they’ll start making their way back home by car. It’s been a good trip, but a long trip, and I’m ready to go back and maybe see some of y’all in person.
Thanks for traveling with me!