Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Two Medicine

Today we moved to the East side of the park, where the weather is much nicer.  This area is typically drier, but windier, and that proved to be true.  We hiked this easy, wheelchair accessible trail to Running Eagle falls.  Since it was still spring, there was a lot of snow melt, and so the waterfalls were full and beautiful. Two Medicine is known as the Backbone of the World to the Blackfeet Indians, who used this area for hunting and spiritual quests.

Two Medicine Lake.  We hiked along its' shore for about two miles.

Mt. Sinopah is over 8000 ft elevation.  It's safe to say we didn't scale it.Glacier Lily.  We only saw a few of these, but later the fields will be covered with them

The Two Medicine General Store was built by the railroad that originally brought tourists to the area.  It's now considered a historic site.  The inside is a typical National Park store, complete with a cafe where we ate lunch.

Going to the Sun road

Later Tuesday, we drove up Going to the Sun road 17 miles, which was as far as were allowed to drive.  Hikers/bikers were encouraged to go an additional 2 miles, so we did that.  The road was completely clear, no snow in sight.  However, crews were still working on the last few miles that would connect both sides of the park.  The snow gets very deep, and they actually have to survey it every year to find the road! At those elevations, the snow would probably never melt on its own, so they have to remove it. Many pieces of heavy equipment are used, and I can understand why they don't want tourists around until their jobs are finished.
The scenery was incredible!  I can't imagine the remaining road looked any better, but I'm told that it does.  I guess we'll just have to go back and see for ourselves!

Going to the Sun Mountain, elevation 9642 ft.

If you look carefully, you can see a barrier just to the right of the snow patch in the center of the picture.  That was the stopping point for law abiding hikers, and there were rangers around to make sure everyone stayed put

This is looking back the way we came, and I admit it, I stepped across the barrier to take this picture.  Luckily the rangers were all occupied.

Another view of Going to the Sun mountain.

St Mary lake.  This is probably one of the most photographed viewpoints in the park, and for good reason.

Monday, June 25, 2018

June 11  Another cloudy day.  One of the first things we noticed were these white lady slippers.  They are a member of the orchid family, and are quite rare, but these were right by the road.  We have pink and yellow ones in Tennessee, but this was my first time to see white ones.
 The road going across the park is known as the Going to the Sun road, and usually isn't completely open until late June.  We drove up as far as we were allowed, and hiked to Avalanche Lake.  Although it was quite cool, we enjoyed the hike. It was one beautiful scene after another. 

We saw this black bear walking parallel to the trail, and apparently unconcerned about the presence of any humans.  There was a ranger there for crowd control, but everyone behaved and just enjoyed seeing this beautiful creature.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

West Glacier, Montana

After serving for 2 weeks at Echo Ranch, we were ready for some R&R.  We flew from Juneau AK to Kalispel, MT, rented a car ( which turned out to be a BRAND NEW 4 Runner with 4 miles on it), and drove to Apgar Village on the West side of Glacier National park.  I had never here, and Steve had been here as a young teen with his family and didn't remember much, or so he thought....

We had the tiniest hotel room I have ever seen, but it did have this nice view of MacDonald creek

The interior of Lake MacDonald Lodge. After the park was formed in 1910 (thank you Teddy Roosevelt!), the Northern Pacific Railroad built several lodges within the park. They all have different themes, and this one highlights the Native Culture.
As we walked in, Steve stopped and said,
"I've been here before, I remember this".  He said nothing much has changed.
There are Native carvings around the fireplace, which was lit and felt good on a cool day.

The stones in the floor had Indian words carved into them.  This is a local tribes word for Water

Lake MacDonald. We took a boat ride in one of the wooden sightseeing boats available.  It was beautiful but cold and windy  The Iconic "Red Buses"  Most of these were built in the 1930's, and have been in service ever since.  The canvas top rolls back on nice days so the views can be fully appreciated.  It was still early spring in Montana, and the tours were just getting started.

 The thriving metropolis of Polebridge, MT.  There was a saloon, a general store(which turned out to have a pretty good bakery/sandwich shop), and some rental cabins.  It was miles from anywhere!

The inside of the general store.  Prices were definitely high!

 We drove even further north, and hiked along the shores of Bowman Lake.What the rental car company doesn't know, won't hurt them!

  Since we were there so early in the season, many trails were not open yet, so we had to choose carefully.

These trilliums are very similar to the ones we have here in the Smokies.  They start out white and turn pink as they age. 
Although the weather remained cloudy,it was still beautiful!Every time I turned around, I was saying, oh my gosh, would you look at that! There was a beautiful scene at every turn of the road.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Echo Ranch Bible Camp

Steve and I spent 2 weeks volunteering at Echo Ranch Bible Camp, about an hour north of Juneau, AK in late May-early June 2018.  We spent 1 week here in 2017, and were so impressed with the ministry here that we decided to return.  I worked in the kitchen, and Steve completed a variety of projects, including this tower for the zip line. I made these cream puff cakes for dessert one night.   The view of Echo cove from the dining hall.  We saw whales swimming in the bay several times.
The camp is a traditional kid's camp, with cabins, bathhouses, a dining hall, gym and chapel. They host around 100 campers each week, and most come from SouthEast Alaska.  Many have had NO exposure to the Gospel, and have no concept of who Jesus is.
This was the view from the cabin where we stayed.  It was quite basic, but the view made up for it! 

The camp has about 20 horses, and campers and sometimes volunteers are allowed to ride.  Naturally I was quick to say yes.
  They also have a Wilderness Camp which is even more isolated and rustic.  This is our friend Austin, and Steve walking to the wilderness camp.

 Steve and I on the Wilderness Camp Road.
We're almost there!  The final step to the Wilderness camp was this Trolley across the river.  
This is our friends Mary and Susy.  They are sisters from Ohio, and came to volunteer just like we did.  

 One of the wilderness camp cabins.  The dandelions were very healthy, and so were the mosquitoes! Although these were very scenic, and are used during the summer, we are thankful
that our cabin was just a bit more modern. (only a bit!)

You have to look closely, but there are 3 black bears that we saw on the way back from Wilderness Camp!  They were pretty far away, and we weren't in any danger.

 The camp is literately at the "end of the road", then you have to take a boat, or if it is low tide, and you have a sturdy truck, you can drive in.  Although it is a challenge to get there, it's well worth it for these views!
 Shooting stars.  We have these in Tennessee, but they are white, and very rare.  There were fields of these purple ones in AK, and I thought they were just beautiful
 Skunk Cabbage.  This is supposedly edible, but it smelled so bad, that I would have to be pretty hungry to try it.  On the right are Forget-Me-Nots, Alaska's state flower