Tuesday, July 22, 2014


 Finally, the time came for us to gather our supplies together and head over the Rocky Mountains to the East Front Range.  Above you see our food for 3 nights and 4 days.
We left Whitefish on Wednesday, drove over to Choteau, where we were to meet our outfitter to give her our heavy items.  She would then pack them in on horseback the next day and we would meet her at Pretty Prairie in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Having met with Maggie, we had time to explore Bynum, where they claim to have the world's largest dinosaur.  The museum was very interesting, showing that Montana boasts some of the best dinosaur excavation sites ever. They even offer outings to go on "digs", half day and full day.  No time for that, had to get to Augusta, where we would spend the night.

 The three of us shared a room at the Bunkhouse Hotel, which is dog friendly.  I had my doubts about the place, but it turned out to be the cutest place ever, like a restored boarding house.

The view down main street from the deck of our hotel.

We had a hearty meal at the Buckhorn Bar and Grill, a local watering hole.  Lots of watering holes in Augusta.
 After dinner, we strolled around town and visited the local park...rodeo is big here!

 Back we went to the parlor of our hotel, to hit the sack early so we can meet Maggie and our stuff at the campsite.
And so we begin our 7 mile hike to our destination.  Mind you, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is 1 million acres big.  So we are just getting a tiny view of it.  
 The trail was good and level, so no big elevation gains for us (yay!).  Outfitters use these trails too, so we need to remember our trail etiquette.  Pull over when you see horses coming, greet them and talk a lot so the horses don't freak.

 We reached camp after about 3 hours, and began to wait for Maggie and our stuff. While Darrell was down at the river filtering water and I was stretching on my sit pad, I came up on my elbows to watch for Maggie, and here comes a bear sauntering into camp.  I grabbed Luna, yelled for Darrell, grabbed my bear spray and started making lots of noise...he was not fazed at all, both of us yelling and Luna growling.  Kept coming.  So I started throwing rocks at him, and that did the trick.  A couple of direct hits and he left the area.  What a way to start the trip!  A very small black bear, but still scary.  Here Amber and Darrell engineer the hanging of the food.  Quite necessary here in bear country.  We would cook in one area, and sleep far away in our tents, away from any food smells.  No food in the tents!

 The first evening, we went luxury....camper stew, with venison burger, potatoes, onions and carrots.  Why not, we didn't have to carry it!  It was soooo good.

 We learned that backpack camping is all about logistics and planning.  Gotta filter water, get everything you need out of that bottomless red bag, and be ready to eat.  Mornings we had oatmeal with dried fruit and protein powder to give us energy for the day's hike.
Amber pointed out a black-backed woodpecker.  These are seen in burned areas, which formed a mosaic all over the wilderness where we were.  The fire was in '07.
 One of the many outfitters passing through Pretty Prairie.
 The second day we did a "partial" hike....we lost the trail after 2 miles up the side of a mountain, so we elected to go back to camp while Amber ascended the ridge.  She did 12 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
 A forest service admin cabin, not sure what it is used for....
 Corrals for the forest service horses, my guess.

Luna helps us any way she can, just as long as she can be with us.  She never ran off after squirrels, or critters...loves hiking to!

Our 3-person tent right next the South Fork of the Sun River.  (well, 2 persons and a dog).
 Interesting lichen on a rock along the trail.  So much beauty here.
Amber heads our group on another hike, and Luna how has a new BFF!  Notice the smoke in the air.  It was pretty bad the first 3 days.
 By this point, Darrell was coming down with a stomach flu of unknown origin.  When all is said and done, could have been worse...we were glad it wasn't appendicitis.
 Breathtaking view along the trail south of our camp.  Amber and I did a quick 5 mile hike while Darrell rested in the tent. (poor guy). Luna rests with him and keeps him company.

 Amber was prepared to the max and brought headnets for the mosquitos.  She only had 2, so I won the coin toss.

The morning of our final day, looking at sunrise from our tent.  Smoke has cleared, and it proves to be a beautiful day for the hike out.
 A look across Pretty Prairie in the morning...there was a female elk, surprised by our movements.

Had to do a selfie!

Back in the truck, Luna is happy to be off her feet.  I was pretty happy to find a bag of chips that we had left behind.  Yum!  Everything tastes so good out here.
Unfortunately, as Darrell recovered on the 4 hour drive home, I came down with what he had.  All in all, though,  it didn't rain, no bad animal encounters, and we learned tons of stuff about backpacking today that we didn't know 32 years ago.
We are ready to go again, soon as we recover from the demon flu.
We can't thank Amber and Eric enough for this wonderful anniversary gift, and challenge to "go for it" in our retirement years.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


 We loaded our backpacks up with all the essentials, threw some food in a cooler, and headed to Flathead Lake to try out primitive camping....to see if we forgot anything.  Better to find out near home than in the middle of the Bob Marshall Wilderness!
We found that nothing major was forgotten, had a nice one pot dinner by the lake, and just relaxed.
We had a view of Goose Island, and apparently there are a couple of bible camps nearby, and we had fun watching canoers and kayakers out on the lake.  In the morning, we made coffee on our camp stove and sipped it while we watched a local Loon family having their breakfast. Of course, Luna immersed herself in the Flathead totally!

Monday, July 07, 2014


Here we are on a hot day at the park!  This lady and her bulldog can be seen motoring around Whitefish in the summer months in their yellow antique motorbike and sidecar.  She has a little ramp in the back of his car for him to climb up and enjoy the wind in his ears.

Saturday, July 05, 2014


Today we had a visit from two llamas who live up on Big Mountain.  Their owners say they frequently bring them down to the lake to expose them to new experiences.   After talking to them, I don't think they use them as pack animals....they seemed more like pets.


With the lack of crowds, I've been able to pursue my hobby, jewelry making and metalsmithing.  Here I'm trying something new with enameling.  An earring is ready to fire, with some brass embellishment. I learned that the brass will not stay on without another coat of clear enamel, which I need to order now.....always learning something new!