I hope to post more frequently soon. It's been a great trip so far. It's been about as much work as I've expected a little busier than expected and we're a lot less connected than I expected. We made it to Theodore Roosevelt in 2 1/2 days, stopping at some relatives on the way, driving through amazing lighting storms in Fargo and driving though standing water on the highway the next morning.
Our tent has seen a little rain as well as hail in Glacier and did very well. I am extremely happy with our choice, it's so easy to put up.
Theodore Roosevelt is a nice park for wild life you don't get everywhere else. My favorite for obvious reasons were the wild horses. They were beautiful and plentiful. Conner loved the prairie dogs, feisty little things. My best advice for the park is to drive the loop early in the morning and hike the short nature trail at Wind Canyon. We saw scores of bison crossing the Little Missouri River. We camped at Buffalo Creek, but if I were to do it again, we'd have camped at Cottonwood, inside the park. The lack of showers and the slightly more expensive nightly fee would have been worth it. Buffalo Gap was nice though and if you're cost conscious, it's a great campground. Quiet, clean and spacious.
At the park we attended the Teddy Bear Picnic, with a visit from Smokey the Bear, aka Nate the Ranger whom we met the day before touring Theo's old Maltese Cross Cabin. We learned that Teddy lost his wife and mother on the same day, Valentine's day. Then came to ND to recuperate. The harsh weather of -35 in the winter and 100+ in the summer would make a lot of hardships seem small.
The landscape was beautiful, apparently it's very green there for this time of year. Most places we've been are well behind in their seasons. The hikes that we took were all pretty short but provided really nice views. Unfortunately we didn't get to the petrified Forest, we had some issues with directions.
The Medora musical was fun, as was the cowboy hall of fame. Medora is a fun little town. You really only need a couple of days there, so we left a little early to get out of the heat and get on to Glacier. We met a bunch of nice people and had a lot of help from the rangers. I have a few paintings already in mind.
Driving to Glacier was in one word, vast. Montana is beautiful, sparse, and the land of white full sized pick up trucks. We passed few cars on the road and only a random rest area or two. 500+ miles later, there sat Glacier. Stunning.
What an incredible place, it will be hard to top this place in the next 4 months. The beauty is outstanding. The wildness of the place is also amazing. So much wildlife. I've had no time to write. 4 days into the trip and we'd seen bears, both black and Grizzly, big horn sheep, mountain goats (from a distance) and mule deer.
Two Medicine Lake
We started in East Glacier, heading to Two Medicine and doing the boat ride and hike up to Twin Falls. I met photographer Tony Bynum that evening and had dinner with him and couple that live and work at Glacier. You should check out his work! http://www.tonybynum.com/portfolio
Two Medicine was beautiful, that night we stayed in the Backpackers Inn in East Glacier and headed to find our campsite at Rising Sun early the next morning.
We were lucky enough that the Going to the Sun Road opened the day we got here, unlucky enough that they have so much snow that most of the great alpine trails are closed. Therefore we can not see many of the glaciers and none up close.
Waiting for the shuttle to Logan Pass
It's stunning tho and if I could spend a summer here (in a cabin) I would in a heartbeat, Conner feels the same way. I took 883 pictures in the first 3 days thousands now, I was shocked that my camera was full when I tried to take some sunset pics.
Big Horned Sheep shedding his winter coat
We've attended several programs,
Trappers and the Fur trade in the Rockies
A two medicine boat ride and hike up to twin falls
A ranger led hike to Grinell Glacier
a bear spray clinic
several movies at the VC
Our big hike to Grinnell Glacier was first attempted it with our new friend Maureen. We were surprised by a mule deer on the trail and after a couple of miles we got turned around by Grizzly's on the trail ahead. A couple passing us had seen one about 30 yards from the trail, others had not. We thought about continuing as some hikers didn't see them, but decided it was in our best interest to go back. Conner and I did the trip with Ranger Ellie Bash a couple of days later, with a group, early in the morning. Two boat rides from the Many Glacier Lodge and we headed up the trail as far as we could go, the view was stunning. Sadly one hiker/climber in a group of three that passed us fell when going beyond the trails warnings for ice. They still have loads of snow so it is recommended that you don't go all the way up on many of the trails. After successfully crossing 2 snow fields, a group near us saw the man fall on the 3rd snow field. We guessed that it was about a 70 degree pitch, nearly straight up and down and tho they seemed to have crampons and ice axes, it wasn't enough. Ellie had Conner lead the group back down the mountain and she headed up to see what she could do. We were at the Many Glacier lodge when the last helicopter flew back apparently with the man in tow. It was over 5 hours from the time he fell. We found out the next morning that he didn't survive.
Grinell Lake from the Grinell Glacier Trail.
Sunrise after a stormy night
I love it in Glacier! Nights have been cold, so sleeping at least the first night was chilly. Maureen suggested I add a flannel sheet, I don't have one so I added Nannie's quilt and it has helped tremendously. As did socks. The rest of the nights were a little warmer too. Conner has my winter sleeping bag, so he can't figure out how I could have been cold :) Cooking has been a breeze, and thankfully we're working our way through some of our food. We definitely brought too much. We brought too much of a lot of things, we're sending some home.
Logan's Pass was clearly Conners favorite spot because of the snow, we've went there nearly every day. Snow ball fights 2 of the days, Conner romped in the snow while I painted one day, and we hiked up as far as we could through the snow on another. My set up for painting needs help! In Washington, a trip to the hardware store and some help from Stacy (my cousins wife) are helping me rig something better up. I really should have just sacrificed somewhere else and bought a proper pocade box. I have been trying watercolor... I did one at St. Mary falls today, it was a challenge and I think I'll draw more now, watercolor feels like backwards painting for me, but it's easy to pack in to places so I'm not giving up.
The last night there it rained, hailed and blew from late afternoon through the next day. We slept in the car, providing us with an early morning sunrise tour of the park. We saw some of the most stunning scenery that morning, including a beautiful rainbow. We packed up in the rain and drove the Going to the Sun Road to West Glacier. We had hoped for a hike, but the rain was incessant, we stopped at Apgar and looked around for a bit, then headed to Washington.
Washington has been great. One of my best friends got married in Olympia on Saturday and Conner and I had a great time. C was doing Dance off's till midnight and having a blast. Staying with my Cousin Paul and his wife Stacy has been incredible. They live on the water off the Puget Sound. They've spoiled us rotten with wonderful food, a super comfy bed and wonderful company. It'll be hard to leave. We're not sure where we're off to next yet, I'll upload a bunch of pics to picasa or something, it's a bit hard to post them here, so I'll give you a couple of my fav's and post a link for more soon.
We are having a great great time. Hope all is well with everyone and see you again soon.
A side note: One day a lady followed us in Many Glacier Lodge to take a picture of Conner because her daughter thought he looked like the perfect ranger :)