Part 7 - Adventuring with Don 2018

Part 7 – Final days

A part of these days of discovery, were especially momentous for me, particularly the delightful scenes of wildflowers along the trials or high in the mountain meadows. For me the beauty those wildflowers presented to me were ones that showcased some of the best of Mother Nature. Hues of red, pink, blue, yellow, white against the rugged beauty of the rocks and mountains was at times simply stunning. 

I was tempted to drop my backpack and lie down amidst the palette of colors, just to be closer to and relish all of the incredible scenery spread out before me.

This connection to nature has always been a part of my being. As a young fella growing up on the family farm in Northwest Ohio, I felt compelled to venture back into our or the neighboring woods or back to the creek where the solitude was a comfort to me. In college in Athens, Ohio, that same desire to seek solitude often led me high up into the foothills of Appalachia that surrounded the town and college. I am ever thankful that I then ventured out and am continuing that sense of discovery even as I move beyond my youthful years.

As I recount my most current adventures, I am looking for and planning the next places that beckon me to discover new trails for my spiritual journeys.

Nearing the end of our backpacking trek we left Lake Frances headed to Goat Haunt, our last campsite.

Along our treks over the past several days, in addition to the beauty, rugged terrain, forests and higher tundra, we often passed through thick vegetation, one species being Huckleberries, the other Thimbleberries. Both are quite common in these areas and important to the bears that feast upon the tasty fruits attempting to fatten themselves for the long winter hibernation. Luckily we did not encounter any such bear activity as we passed through the Thimbleberry thickets. But we did, at times, stop to pick ripe berries for a delicious snack. At other times in mid stride as we hiked along, I took opportunities to snatch a few for myself.

Although we did not have any bear encounters during our days on the trail, we often did see evidence of their presence in the manner of bear scat upon the trail. From what was evident in those droppings, berries were obviously a staple in their diets.






Another trailside observation was the presence of mountain lion kills. Many times we saw a lot of animal fur along the trail including a partial carcass of a mountain sheep was the evidence of the big cat’s kill. This is Mother Nature, where all that is needed to survive are provided to the creatures living in the wild.







Once we had arrived in camp at Goat Haunt, and with tents set up, several of us waded into the river, replenishing our drinking water supplies directly from the source. The waters were very soothing on my trail weary feet, albeit numbingly cold.








As we enjoyed out last dinner on the trail, there were some other conversations with the other groups who shared the site. Being the last night, it was not long before most of us retreated back to our tents and bade goodnight to another fine hike.


Arising early, as usual, I found Ryan already up and preparing breakfast for us. With that completed, we set off on a side trip to some waterfalls. 

Me on bridge



















As part of that little morning trek we crossed a suspension bridge that swayed somewhat as each of us passed from one side to the other. Once at our destination, we relaxed and savored several moments above the rushing waters below us.

 

Returning to camp, we again tidied up, put on water shoes or sandals and crossed the river with packs upon our backs. On the opposite shore, we changed footgear to our hiking shoes before continuing a short hike to the foot of Waterton Lake at the Goat Haunt Ranger Station. There we were able to add whimsical stamps to our passports. 

 








It was there at Goat Haunt Ranger Station at the bottom of Waterton Lake where we boarded the ferry Independence that took us up into Waterton, Canada. Across the border in Canada is Waterton Lakes National Park, which is an international part of the United States’ Glacier National Park, together known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park declared a World Heritage Site. On the short ride into Canada we learned a bit more about the cooperation between our countries and saw the border delineated by a swath of clear cut forest stretching off into the distance on either side of the lake. 



In Canada, our border inspection was merely a brief conversation and telephone check of each of our passports. Once we cleared that, we boarded a van that Glacier Guides had brought up for our use to return to West Glacier, Montana. Included in the van was a ice chest that held our lunch. Having some time to spare before heading back into the States, we explored a bit in Waterton including a stop at a liquor store to buy beer or other drinks of choice. With beverages in hand, we stopped at a park along the lake and enjoyed the tasty lunch that had been prepared for us.

Still in the early afternoon, we crossed into the US without incident. Along that drive we saw our first bears – a mother brown bear with two cubs crossing the road ahead of us. Such bear sightings are traffic stoppers, this one being no exception. As far as wild animal sightings go, this was brief and pretty unremarkable as the bears continued on into the woods allowing traffic to resume.


But, we can say we did have a bear sighting during our trip!


One of the most incredible roads in the world is the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier. That is the route Ryan drove as we returned to Glacier Guides headquarters in West Glacier. The road is an engineering feat that cuts high up into the mountains with fantastic views down to valleys and lakes while mountain peaks loom above. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to travel this road's entire length, because in just a few days access to it was to be severely restricted.

 

Although our backpacking hike into the depths of Glacier National Park was nearing a close, our time together as fellow adventurers will keep us close, if not in proximity then in spirit. Our final goodbyes were later when we met for dinner at the historic Belton Chalet in West Glacier. This was the first Great Northern Railway hotel built for guests arriving at Glacier National Park beginning in 1910.

Over dinner, sharing some of our  backpacking memories, was an ideal ending to our adventure of discovery together. For me, who had some trepidation prior to and at the beginning of this trip, most of those concerns had vanished. Having overcome most of my qualms, I felt more confident in myself for having tackled this challenging backcountry hike.


While most of our trekking troupe would be returning to their homes, families and work, my adventures were just getting started. Ahead of me lie planned and unplanned jaunts as I simply let the winds blow me in directions of discovery that have further enriched my life.


                                   The border of Canada and the United States cut through the forest.

                                                                                               A view from the pier at Waterton Lake.



kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012