Thursday, July 31, 2008
Big Sky Country
Houston and I spent 2 weeks in and around Missoula, Montana recently. We attended a wedding of some friends (best wedding EVER!, post to follow soon) and camped in the national forests nearby. Along this one stretch of highway are a number of beautiful lakes with campgrounds right on the lake. We went from lake to lake, taking hikes at each one. We stopped at the ranger station to get a map and see which trails were open. They've had a lot of snow this year so some of the trails were still closed up at the higher elevations. We had a hike in mind and pointed it out to the ranger. She said matter-of-factly, "Oh, that one's closed because they're going to blow up a mule today or tomorrow." Wha?! I thought this was pretty cool (would never happen in the east) then I thought of the poor mule, not too cool for him. Apparently this trail is the main mule train trail into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area (the Bobs) to bring supplies up for fisherman, hikers, etc. who don't want to carry their own stuff. But one of the poor mules (probably cuz it was worked too hard!) died right on the trail, way up there. They can't move them because they're too damn heavy and they obviously can't leave them there because the grizzlies would be attracted to it so the solution is to dynamite it to smithereens. I asked the ranger wouldn't it just blow bits all over the place and she said that's what she asked too. But they REALLY blow it to smithereens and there's nothing left. Soooooo, we picked a different trail. Didn't want to get close to that action!
Looking below we saw our campsite way on the other side of this lake.
Someone had posted a note on the trailhead board about the mule. "Danger! Dead mule killed by aliens at Upper Holland Lake near camp area." After a long day of hiking, we were lounging campside around 5:00 p.m. and we heard an incredibly loud BOOOOOM!!!! We looked at each other and nodded. I really couldn't believe how loud it was as it was about 9 miles up and around the mountain. Poor mule.
NOT the blow up the mule trail.
We did see lots of bear grass. It's a prolific western plant whose rhizomes survive in forest fires and is one of the first plants to come back after a fire. It can get to 5' tall and these were nearly as tall as me. They also have a nice, mellow sweet smell.
While driving to another camping area, we saw these llamas basking lazily in the sun by a river.
...and nearby colorful beehives.
This amazing cabin was built right on this raging river.
Of course I had my knitting with me. It's the thing I fret about when packing. How many projects (5), something portable (socks), something easy (shawl), don't want to get bored (vest), how much yarn (lots). So I knit on the socks, then go to the vest, then read a bit. I know I must be ADD but if one channels that to many projects, they seem to come together.
While knitting on a hike, this darling butterfly landed on my needles and kept me company for a bit.
I thought it was funny that I coincidentally chose 'Campfire Socks' as my sock pattern. They do smell a bit smoky.
The vest I'm doing is from the Noro Designer Mini Knits book that I just love.
This is a huge meadow of camas flowers. It was an important plant for Native Americans as the bulbs can be cooked and eaten (tastes like sweet potatoes) or ground up into flour.
but I just liked looking over that purple meadow with the snow covered mountains in the background and being glad that I could be in this vast wilderness and still enjoy this scenery.