Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Montana - Day 4

Continuing on…
Day 4: Today was another good day, the skies are blue, not many clouds, cool morning (46 degrees)and hot afternoon (High 80's).  We were up bright and early for a ½ day trail ride through the Great Bear Wilderness in Flathead National Forest.  U.S. Highway 2 separates this Wilderness and Glacier National park.  The Great Bear is located west of the Continental Divide which forms the eastern boundary.  The Great Northern Mountain (8,705 ft) is the highest peak in the wilderness which is dominated by dozens of other mountains, all part of the Rocky Mountain Front.  We were not allowed to take pictures while riding, it didn’t matter since we were among the trees, and we only saw a lone deer and some ground squirrels.  It was a nice and relaxing ride; it was just what we needed after two days of hiking.  Our guide was quite informative – she described the different pines: ponderosa, lark (this one I did not know about), Douglas fir, spruce and some more.  Aspen and birch trees are prevalent as well.  We saw remnants of fire along the trail.  Fire  plays a natural role in the Flathead National Forest ecosystem. It promotes vegetative and wildlife diversity and eliminates heavy fuel accumulations.  It also releases seeds from the pines for new growth. 

We stopped for lunch and could view National Glacier Forest from a distance.  Not much to see but a vast wilderness and trees.

Believe it or not, we then went on a short hike to Stanton Lake.  A local couple told us about this hike, said it was short (2.6 miles round trip) only strenuous for the first 1/4 mile - yeah right - it was strenuous for the first 1/4 and the first 1/4 mile coming back.  One must go down hill to get to the lake which means back up hill on the return.  I did not have my hiking shoes with me so I hiked in my faithful flipflops (I know not too smart).  Brian went part way and decided he was not going up any more hills. But I treked on with a partial bottle of water.  I made it to the lake with only one wrong turn where I had to back track.  I was hoping not to run into any bears.  On the trek back, I found a bottle of water Brian left for me with a note.  It was so sweet, I was rationing the little water I had left.  Enough hiking for the day. 

Off to have ice cream.  The café in the park entrance has delicious ice cream.  Then ending the day with a visit to the hot tub!

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